Around the world, the humble croissant (and its pastry siblings) have evolved to quite an extent in the last half a decade or so — from an often-limp breakfast staple stocked in every cafe, grocery store, hotel room, and home fridge, to increasingly garnering cult status. If NYC has become known for breeding pastries into unrecognizable mutants (the cronut for example, and/or stuffing the croissant with all sorts of cream and confectionery imaginable), Melbourne may well be better known for perfecting the original. In this review – similar to what we have done for a previous dessert trend review, we trace Melbourne’s evolution in making this traditional French breakfast into a more universal, and more modern, breakfast dessert experience.
Making the croissant en vogue
- Dessert destination: Lune Croissanterie, Fitzroy and Melbourne CBD.
- Short and sweet story: The older your Dessert Correspondents get, the more we find that it’s sometimes funny where life takes you. For example, we would never have imagined ourselves based in NYC after a quarter of a century growing up in Melbourne and always dreaming about life in London. Similarly, we wonder whether a Formula One racing car designer would have ever imagined switching careers, and excelling so far in her second career that her once tiny storefront in sleepy Elwood was reviewed by the New York Times as producing some of the “world’s best croissants.” We still remember visiting that Elwood store so many years ago, sometime back in 2013. To visit the new Melbourne CBD outlet on a recent trip home to Melbourne, it brought back many memories. You could miss the pain au chocolat in our opinion, but do not miss the almond croissant (it resembles a tan brown stegosaurus with a dense row of almond spikes on its spine), nor the lemon curd “cruffin” (a pastry hybrid that is an exception for edibility, compared to other the meh pastry hybrid creations such as the “cronut”). Although eye watering-ly pricey ($11 for an almond croissant, really Melbourne?!), Lune’s pastries are flaky and puffy, even a day or two after purchase. Lune is indeed, what breakfast dessert dreams are about.
Gingerly intrepid infusions
- Dessert destination: Agathe Patisserie, South Melbourne and Melbourne CBD.
- Short and sweet story: If you can accept that a great croissant can made by an Australian and not a French person (as in Lune), can you also accept that a croissant can still be a croissant when it tastes of something other than butter or almonds? What if it tastes of coffee, for example? Or matcha? Or pandan? Or gingerbread? Although the Agathe’s tiny shopfront in the Royal Arcade still offers the traditional butter croissant, we would recommend their other flavours for a dessert adventure in the South Melbourne market. Pictured below is the startling neon green pandan croissant.
When East meets West
- Dessert destination: Sucre du Jour, Camberwell, Melbourne.
- Short and sweet story: The youngest dessert boutique of the ones in this round-up review, Sucre du Jour is a love letter to cakes. Make sure to keep an eye out for our full review of their cakes soon, but in the meantime, let us know tell you about their croissants. Specifically, the salty meaty “Candied Pork Jerky and Pork Floss” croissant, as well as the pretty as a spring day, “Ispandan” croissant swirled with pandan cream, strawberry lychee and embedded with raspberry meringue and lychee. Ooh la la!
Back to basics
- Dessert destination: Le Petit Bourke, Melbourne CBD.
- Short and sweet story: If you are not convinced of any of the above “new-age” croissant options, and/or if you are a true Francophile, then look no further than the little hideaway that is Le Petit Bourke. We reviewed this many years ago while we were still living in Melbourne (see past review here), and much to our surprise (given the often rapid-fire turnover that typifies the hospitality/restaurant industry), it still stands today. Indeed, time seems to have forgotten about Le Petit Bourke. So many years on, the service is still detached and grumpy, the place still does not draw the frustrating queues of many other Melbourne cafes, and the pastries are resolutely, conservative classics. Because sometimes, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? 🙂