It’s been nearly 12 months since Natalie Paull’s beloved Beatrix closed its doors, leaving a chiffon cake-shaped hole in North Melbourne’s heart.
Granted, neighbours including Bread Club, Le Bajo Milkbar and newly opened Lumen People produce their fair share of excellent sweets. Now Marie Antoinette, a former home-baking business that took over the space on the corner of Queensberry and Lothian streets in late June, joins the crew.
Marie Antoinette owner Marie Antoinette Khougaz is aware of the expectations that come with taking over the old Beatrix shopfront. But she knows better than to try and recreate the well-loved bakery. Instead, she’s introducing her own style of pastry.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
Khougaz tells Broadsheet she’s been baking for as long as she can remember, but fell in love with French pastry about 13 years ago.
Her French pastry love affair started with entremet, an elaborate mousse-based layer cake that incorporates components like jelly, cremeux, ganache and sponge cake. Entremet has now become her signature.
“It was about 2010 and Mum bought the explosive raspberry entremet from Burch & Purchese, ” says Khougaz, referring to The Great Australian Bake Off judge Darren Purchese’s now-shuttered “sweet studio”. “What hit me was the amazing layers of flavours and how much everyone was knocked out by it. It was the best cake I had and that inspired me.”
Entremet flavours at Marie Antoinette rotate but may include pecan with glazed pecans, caramel praline, hazelnut sponge and caramel cremeux; a strawberries and cream version with strawberry jelly, berry cream and vanilla sponge; or a black forest variation with blueberry and cherry jelly and a chocolate almond biscuit.
In addition to entremet, there will be around 15 items on offer daily, including red velvet cake with cream-cheese icing and Nutella-filled cookies. There’ll also be items inspired by Khougaz’s Egyptian heritage, like knafeh doused in lemon syrup, and the Melburnian Cheesecake, made with a blend of cheeses, creams and lemon.
The bakery also serves Italian deli sandwiches and thin-crust Roman-style pizzas made using a recipe developed by Khougaz’s brother and business partner, Joe Khougaz, which are available from 11.30am. The pizza dough is made using three types of Italian flour that are slow-mixed and cold-fermented for a minimum of 96 hours, before they’re finished with toppings including Italian sausage, sauteed onions, piquillo peppers and olives.
The large windows lining the corner shop, filling Marie Antoinette with light, will be recognisable to those who were familiar with Beatrix. A door painted in the green hue of Melbourne’s trams also remains, and painted rose pink flourishes have been added to the inside of the shop for a personal touch.
And while the shop predominantly caters to takeaways, there are a few seats indoors and out for those looking to dine in.
688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Tues to Fri 8:30am–3pm