A sensational croissant can take you straight to Paris in one bite, and there is no reason why you can't experience that joie de vivre right here in Melbourne. Tirelessly tasting pastries across town, we’ve sought out some of the best flaky fare on offer. So diets be damned – dig into our Melbourne pastry round-up.
Sydney Road, with its collection of second-hand stores and Turkish food stops, isn't the first place you would look for a French-style cafe and patisserie. But nestled away in this quiet spot, Choukette is home to one of the best croissants around. The sheer number of pastries greeting you at the front counter is the first hint of what to order, but they also do a stellar job with other classics such as brioche and macarons. The team put their success down to traditional, handmade French methodologies, fresh ingredients and baking fresh and on-site daily.
318 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie
Single-estate leaf teas, chandeliers, round white tables, beignets filled with gooey chocolate ganache, and the pastries, oh the pastries. Taxi drivers and ladies who lunch sit side-by-side enjoying the delicacies from this cafe and patisserie in Essendon. Locals queue out the door for the best-selling almond croissant, said to be made with Warrnambool butter and submerged in sugar syrup before baking for a sweet crust. Its generous, nutty, buttery filling is far from the sickly sweet marzipan of the more inferior modes – not to be missed.
In true Melbourne style, patisserie and boulangerie Chez Dré is located down an alley. At this bustling spot, weary South Melbourne Marketgoers collapse in chairs inside the stylish converted warehouse and young mums herd their kids to tables in the sunny courtyard. But it’s hard to tear one’s eyes away from the goodies on display, and why would you when plates of free samples greet those who linger a little too long? Pastry chef Andrea Reiss concocts delicious treats like blueberry apple brioche, pear and marzipan Danishes, and croissants that sell out daily.
Though it may sound a little like a lingerie shop, French Fantasies is a bakery that has supplied restaurants with sweet treats for over 20 years. Near a bustling corner of Toorak Road, they have a shopfront and adjoining Parisian-style cafe where you can sample their wares. Pastry chefs roll croissants out in the kitchen while French-accented staff serve crêpes and croque-monsieur and children loiter next to the cabinets filled with croissants, Danishes, delicate cakes and éclairs. Their top seller is the almond croissant, but we love the escargot, with its fresh pastry, moist custard filling and generous spiced fruit.
Although customers flock to this renowned French patisserie for its macarons, the croissants should not be overlooked. The crescent-shaped pastry's pillowy layers and toasted buttery flavour make it a contender for the best in town. The classics stream out of Guillaume Dequidt's kitchen, including Danishes, brioches, éclairs, a variety of pastries and the eponymous La Tropezienne – a brioche-like cake sandwiched with creamy custard. La Tropezienne supplies many cafes and restaurants, including Monsieur Truffe, which explains why the croissants and pain au chocolat regularly disappear by lunch.
Wanting to bring a little bit of France to Australia, fifth generation baker and pastry chef David Menard opened Noîsette six years ago and Melbournians have been thanking him ever since. Liked that cafe's croissant? Enjoyed that bread over dinner last night? Chances are it was from Noîsette, who supply around 450 cafes and restaurants across Victoria. Upon entering the classic Port Melbourne cafe, what is most striking is the sheer volume of food on offer – filled baguettes, pastries, cakes, breads and macarons keep the constant flow of happy customers satisfied.
Just off Elwood’s Brighton Road, at the intersection of Scott and Tennyson Streets, is the quaint two-storey house where owner and baker Kate Reid lives and bakes the delicious pastries that fill the shelves of cafes such as Station Street Trading Co., Clement, Woodfrog Bakery and Stokehouse Cafe. While originally trained as an aeronautical engineer, Reid has always had a passion for baking. After a visit to Paris and patisserie Du Pain et des Idess, Reid decided to toss her career in Formula 1 car development to the side to pursue her passion for pastry.