Ninou (which means “cuddle” in French) has all the charms of a Parisian boulangerie, without being pretentious.
“When I moved to Australia what I missed the most about France was the boulangerie. So Ninou is about re-creating the taste of home,” says co-owner Sabine Bourdin. “It’s quite personal,” she says, pointing to a tart with strawberries in the cabinet. “This is the cake that I would share with my family every year for my birthday in France”.
Ninou is open and inviting, with friendly staff and an elegant fit-out by Parisian interior designer Meredith Frichet. The bakery and kitchen space is open – patissiers work around a large square island table. “It was important to us to have the craft of our patissiers and bakers on display,” Bourdin says. “We wanted it to feel open and to show the authenticity of the process, plus it’s pretty fascinating to watch them work.”
Baguettes sit in rectangular metal drums and chouquettes (choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar and sweet fillings) are piled in a basket by the register. The flour is imported from France, which, due to different milling techniques and the protein (or gluten) content, makes an enormous difference to the flavour of the dough – the baguettes here actually taste like real French bread.
Stacks of baguette sandwiches with generous fillings, including Emmental cheese, cured ham and all the good savoury condiments you’d expect, make easy lunch options. If you’re famished try the ficelle (thin baguette) baked with bacon and mozzarella.
The real attraction of Ninou is the pastries: plump raspberries sandwiched between pistachio macarons; lime panna cotta tarts; and a crème brûlée orange. The standout in the cabinet is the signature Ninou cake with layers of single-origin dark-chocolate mousse, salted-caramel cremeux, almond dacquoise and caramel butter.