A curtain was literally drawn this month in Hawthorn, when celebrity French chef Gontran Cherrier opened his second eponymously named Melbourne boulangerie.
Cherrier’s latest gluten temple is a smaller version of the Collingwood store, which opened in 2016. The new outpost features minimalist design by Olaver Architecture, so expect lustrous concrete flooring, a stone and wood countertop with an oh-so-French sparkling water tap, a semi-plastered, semi-exposed brick wall, and a very swank blue, red and gold curtain that drapes across the front window come closing time.
Cherrier, a fourth-generation French baker, says his bread is “totally different” from the stuff he grew up with at his parents’ bakery. His signature sourdough baguette is the best of both worlds – long and elegant in the French tradition but also crusty and slightly chewy in the Italian way, and famously only made with Cherrier’s favourite French flour and butter. Cherrier also isn’t afraid to colour outside of the lines – go for the miso rye bread or black-as-night squid ink and nigella seed baguette to see just how far.
Then, of course, there are the pastries: rows upon rows displayed behind the counter, advertised in hand-drawn black cursive letters along the glass cabinet: chocolat viennoise, Normandy tart, saucisson baguette. The croissants will make your socks roll up and down. He’s also got Gallic lunch classics on the menu, such as bacon-and-gruyere quiche Lorraine and le croquet monsieur Parisien.
Cherrier says Hawthorn – like Collingwood – reminds him of the Paris neighbourhood Montmartre, where he opened his first bakery in 2010. Though unlike Smith Street’s melting-pot/creatives appeal, here it’s the swarms of families and school students that caught his attention.
“In France [the bakery] is the place to be before you go to school,” he smiles.
If you’re sitting down, accompany your croissant with a St Ali coffee cafe au lait in a mug (“because why not?” as the menu says).
Cherrier has also created some special local items, including Australian chickpea-miso brioche, pumpkin and apple turnovers, and – come summer – lemon-myrtle custard eclairs.
He says he’s also developing a Vegemite bake, which may or may not be a croissant. Though he has time to mull this over – Cherrier plans to open another Melbourne store (his goal is to eventually have five) plus a Sydney outpost by early 2018. Watch this space.
Gontran Cherrier Hawthorn
696 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 7am–5pm