Ned Radojcic is an aircraft engineer by trade, but he’s spent the past few years making plans to open a cafe and restaurant – and thinking a lot about bread.
“I thought about bread for five years,” Radojcic says, and it shows at his new Milan-inspired venue, Ned’s Bake.
You know bread is a focus here even before you enter the sleek space on Toorak Road. Loaves of the stuff, such as the trademark green olive grissini or a 100 per cent sourdough heritage corona, are tied to steel mesh frames and displayed in the windows.
Inside you can choose from a selection of around 15 French and Italian-style loaves, as well as a large and colourful display of pastries, tarts, buns and savoury items including mini brioche sandwiches.
Pastry chef Florian Fontaine (formerly of Melbourne chocolatier Cacao) creates light and fruity sponge-based cakes, such as pistachio with raspberry coulis and cream; almond vanilla with strawberry; and fig and orange blossom with cassis, raspberry and chocolate cream.
But there’s more to Ned’s than its bakes.
At breakfast try the mascarpone pancakes served with coconut ice-cream, strawberries and balsamic vinegar; for lunch and dinner there are dishes such as chicken-liver pâté with grilled brioche, or super crispy Neapolitan pizzas.
Originally from Serbia, Radojcic stopped in Melbourne for a holiday on his way to America, but never left (his partner is T2 co-founder Mary Shearer). He worked as a waiter at Carlton restaurant La Spaghettata in the late 1980s but has been an engineer for most of his life.
Before he opened Ned’s he flew to meet with Berlin-based American master baker Benjamin Tugwell and Australian baker Timothy Naughton (who previously worked with Baker D. Chirico and Noisette). He brought both of them back to Melbourne to work at Ned’s, though not before he sent Tugwell on a one-month knowledge-gathering stint at Boulangerie Utopie in Paris.
Ned’s occupies a site previously home to Saloon Bar. After some input from Sydney-based designer Mark Landini, Radojcic converted the large space using lots of glass and concrete. He also stripped back some of the walls to expose the brick beneath. It’s bright and welcoming, and a good addition to an area that could do with more casual but sophisticated spots to dine.
134 Toorak Road, South Yarra
(03) 9867 2457
Mon to Sat 7am–11pm