It has to be said that some small part of Kürtosh’s appeal is testing out a few pronunciations in a bad imitation of a Hungarian accent. However, of more seductive appeal is the testing of the countless pastries and cakes. Kürtosh’s original store opened at The Spot in Randwick, formed by the passionate trio of Tom and Ben Haikin and patisserie expert Jean-Marc Masset.
Their second branch, situated at the sleepier end of Crown Street, mimics the same relaxed style of their flagship store. While perhaps more technically a bakery, the warm provincial flourishes and open space make Kürtosh assume the feel of a cafe in which to spend an hour or so in an aimless fashion.
So what’s with the name? The eponymous kürtosh is a tall spiral of pastry coated with caramelised sugar and nuts, coconut or (for more of a fairy bread experience) hundreds and thousands. They’re light and sweet without being cloying, with a soft middle and the kind of crisp shell that sees pastry shards fly into the air when pierced with a fork. It’s more formally known as kürtoskalác (or chimney cake) and is of Transylvanian origins. You can watch the kürtosh being coiled around wooden spools from over the counter; it’s one of those oddly transfixing sights that turn food into something of a performance.
Savoury burekas (puff pastry filled with cheeses, potato or spinach) are available for a light lunch to be punctuated by sweets.
Also worth noting is their fancy espresso machine, which is probably the best in the world and is one of only four currently being used in New South Wales (the others are in Coffee Alchemy, Mecca and Toby's Estate), with master barista Ben Haiken churning out some of the city's best espresso. The excellent coffee comes care of Mecca Espresso and makes the perfect foil for all that caramel, spice and syrup.