There are a few reasons Falco Bakery is the kind of shop that, on opening day, already has a line down Smith Street. And why it’s completely sold out of bread, pastries and sandwiches by early that afternoon.
First up, Falco comes from Casey Wall, Manu Potoi and Michael Bascetta (Madewell Group, also behind Italian diner Capitano and Fitzroy’s Bar Liberty); a team known for having a finger on Melbourne’s zeitgeist pulse.
Second is the addition of head baker and co-owner Christine Tran to the team. Tran perfected her breadmaking skills while running her own business, Nomad Bread, as well as time spent working at Tivoli Road Bakery, San Francisco’s longstanding Tartine Bakery, and North Fitzroy’s petite Loafer Bread.
Third, the fit-out of the 25-seat space is by interior architect Chris James of Chris James Studio (also behind the design of Potoi’s meticulous Collingwood cocktail bar Above Board, Capitano, and Fitzroy’s The Everleigh), who was briefed to create a fresh and light take on an old-school Aussie bakery. The pear-green of the pressed metal ceiling is a carryover from the shop’s former life as Rockwell and Sons, another venture of Wall and Potoi’s. There’s more green on the walls and floor – army, this time – and Jarrah timber shelves and tables. James tells me the design references the “beautiful banality” of rural Australia and its farmland.
Fourth is the bread itself, of course. The shelves are stacked with what Tran calls “approachable loaves”; all kneaded by hand, most made with a sourdough starter, but often using a mixture of techniques.
“We live and breathe [bread], so we’re really excited by new grains and ancient grains. But the idea of the ‘approachable loaf’ is that it’s a loaf that people will enjoy. It’s not super dense, it’s not too sour, it’s enjoyable to eat,” Tran says. “It’s not about making what pleases you as the baker, but what pleases the people who come to support you.”
When Broadsheet visits, there’s a fermented oat and porridge loaf, fruit bread, a light rye and a country loaf (also used for the bakery’s sandwiches – we recommend the poached chicken).
Tran’s also crafted a cardamom roll inspired by one she tasted at Stockholm’s Green Rabbit Bakery – get to Falco first thing in the morning to grab one warm from the oven, with just the right amount of spice and a little sugar on top – and a range of pies that executive chef Wall (Bar Liberty, Capitano, Rockwell and Sons) is making fillings for. The Double Patty Smash pie is a resurrection of Wall’s popular Rockwell burger that comes with Falco's take on Big Mac sauce. There’s a smoked chicken and buttered leek pie, a vegetarian one filled with Monterey Jack cheese, tarragon and creamed corn, and a pork and fennel sausage roll.
To drink, there's espresso or filter coffee made using beans roasted in house. Get yours with a slice of carrot and burnt-butter cake, a seasonal fruit Danish (maybe cherry or plum, with a crème anglais or cream cheese filling) or a peanut butter and house-fermented miso cookie.
288 Smith Street, Collingwood