Melbourne’s sweet delights roundup 2013
After reading a recent article on the Herald Sun that listed out what they believed were the top 25 desserts in Melbourne, I was game on trying a version of my own – albeit several of mine actually appear on that list too. And there’s plenty more where these came from.
So here is a little rundown of some of the more memorable desserts I have had so far this year. Please enjoy this largely visual gallery…
I haven’t been to this Albert Park Lake institute since ex-head-chef Scott Pickett moved on to to The Estelle and his newest adventure: St Crispin. For one it is a bit of a trek, and secondly the menu is by no means cheap. But when I heard it would be featured in this months Good Food Month, offering a bargain $38 two course lunch (or $49 for 3 courses) and there would be an orange soufflé on the menu – it was an instant sell for me.
So the one here at The Point is the first school. The orange souffle with chocolate icecream is incredibly light, with the vital airy egg white texture. Adding to this are slight wisps of orange perfume and scattered shavings of orange, making for a delightful and impeccable spring-time dessert. The cherry coconut parfait with vanilla ice cream and pistachio is no less of a star, shining with its sweet floral, cherry notes alongside the creamy fragrance of coconut.
John Lawson’s soufflés at Mr Hive are one of the finer examples in Melbourne. I absolutely adore the airy-light-wispy texture (edging ever so slightly towards a heavier cake mixture – i.e. second school of soufflé) that rise high above the ramekin. The flavours are constantly changing but lean towards subtler notes. I regret there is no photo of the recent Almond rendition (my favourite so far), but here is one from earlier – Raymond Blanc (Raspberry), and Mr Hive’s chocolate bar.
[Number 8 by John Lawson]
Where: Crown Riverside,
8 Whiteman St, Southbank
Contact: 03 9292 8300
Full review coming soon.
P.S. From now until 24 November 2013 - Lunch Indulgence Offer: $45 for two courses and $55 for three courses*.
From the same creative hands comes the newly renamed Number 8 by John Lawson. John teases that there will likely be a soufflé appearing on the menu at some point in the future given how successful they have been at Mr Hive. But until then, check out the Banana split with rum caramel and toasted hazelnuts – totally devilish! Pictured left: Yoghurt and honey mousse with a summery scatter of lychee, blueberries and mango.
[A la Bouffe]
Where: 268 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Contact: 03 9077 2856.
Online reservations available.
P.S. Lunch & Pre Theatre special: 2 courses for $35.
I have returned a couple of times to this French bistro (a rare gesture from a blogger) to complete my journey through their swoon-worthy list of classic French desserts. The bistro fair is far from dreary, and the cosy warmth it leaves you with is something very special.
Tarte Tatin (Classic caramalised apple tart with caramel sauce & Cointreau vanilla ice cream), A La Bouffe Millefeuille (Puff pastry with berries on a berry coulis – made to order), Crêpes Suzette (Classic flambéed crêpes with orange, Grand Marnier sauce & vanilla ice cream), Crème Brûlée A L’orange & Cointreau (Traditional crème brûlée with orange & Cointreau), Crème Brulée A La Lavende (Traditional crème brûlée with pear & lavender liqueur) … all the old school French desserts you could ever want!
At the far end of China town, better known for its contemporary Thai cuisine with southern Chinese influences, Longrain showcases one of my much-loved caramelised pork hocks with a lovely stickiness. But that is not what this post is about…
I am generally not a huge fan of “Asian” desserts put forth by Melbourne restaurants, as they are either so far flung from their origins that it usually more resembles a French dessert, or it fails to replicate the homely street-eat nostalgia that many of us have had throughout our childhood. Whilst I cannot say Longrain is an exception from such a rule, I did surprisingly however still enjoy the refreshing and indulgent notes paired with a fresh twist. I much preferred the heavier caramelised banana (a shocking glut of a dish) and sticky rice selections, over the lighter pannacotta, and deconstructed chiffon and South East Asian fruits.
Alongside Nic Poelaert’s well-known meli of vegetables, the Forest floor has its roots from the former Embrasse and is mirrored here in playful delight with hazelnut parfait, pork crackling (new to this dish), sorrel and mint granita. It is light, rich in chocolate and crunchy with meringue.
Where: Basement 141 Flinders lane, Melbourne CBD
Contact: 03 9650 3155
Coda is a long time institute of contemporary Asian with its predominant influence from Vietnam. The savoury menu is dotted with delightful renditions, whilst the sweet section swings completely into French territory. I can’t say I can fault the light fluffy vanilla soufflé, nor the toasted meringue with strawberry sorbet. In fact they are beautiful modern creations that I would make return visits for. My only conflict here is that none of the desserts are remotely Asian.
Ben Shewry’s plight of bees has got to be pinned alongside my all-time favourite desserts.
“This complex beautifully rendered dessert, served in a Tasmanian oak box, is created using two totally different New Zealand honeys (honeydew and wild thyme) as a central part of the dessert’s mortar – a creamy, eggy curd that brings together the savoury-sweetness of pressed pumpkin, the acidity of fennel seed granita and mandarin wedges, and finally the crunch from shards of broken meringue. Freeze dried apple dust is carefully sprinkled on top to create the illusion of a honeycomb. It is an absolute charmer, impeccably executed with exact balance and refreshing energy.”
Where: 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne
Contact: 03 9690 2688
Sure they have a lovely French brunch menu, and gorgeous selection of gateaux and macarons, but this is my go to patisserie for caramel Éclairs, fullstop. The crumbly pastry is absolutely to die for.
The Bombe Alaska is a lightly flamed soft meringue, filled with a rich hazelnut and chocolate ice cream dessert that you have to try at least once. Order one for two people.
[Spring St Grocer | Gelateria Primavera]
Where: 157 Spring St, Melbourne CBD
Contact: 03 9650 0811
Opens: daily until midnight.
P.S. one litre tubs are available also at $20/tub. I went through one of these in about 2 days… such a glut!
Whilst most of us know them generically as Spring St Grocer, technically speaking their gelato is traded under Gelateria Primavera (same same but different). The artisanal gelato here is arguably my top gelato place in Melbourne – partly due to them having my favourite rendition of pistachio. It is a true gem of a find that “truly celebrates the purity of its primary ingredient” – a clearly very popular gem that on most nights has people queuing up to try their latest flavours.
Whilst I have visited Circa several times before and *ahem* tried many of their desserts, their newest rendition on a winter dessert, the ‘Queen of Puddings’ was something of another world – with a lightly baked rose meringue, with warm Yuzu, poached rhubarb and a delicious layer of vanilla bean custard and sponge cake on the base.
Excerpt from recent post: “The finishing touch is made with The Smith’s killer desserts, taking home its fair share of media spotlight – the peach soufflé (lauded by Momo and Coco), and their Knickerbocker glory tower (graced on theHerald Sun’s 25 best desserts)”
Where: 12/14 Claremont St, South Yarra
After much waiting, the much anticipated Zumbo has arrived in Melbourne. With queues going from 5am on its opening day, this little quiet street in South Yarra will be quiet no more. The quirky storybook décor pays homage to the inventive and wild flavour experiments of Adriano – from the more well accepted salted caramel to the newer Salted butter popcorn and more unusual Strawberry|raspberry|green tea zumbarons. The macaron texture varies between each flavour from the softer, to the more granular – I suspect it is intentional, and veers his macarons right to that point which straddles molecular flair and lunacy.
I do wish they would take the same level of care as other patisseries with their cakes and have them taped down individually (they tend to slide around a fair bit in the box – disaster waiting to happen).
I don’t mean to portray this new Spanish eatery (taken over from Ayelsbury) as a one dish restaurant, but the Chocolate Croquettes in Vanilla custard was gobsmackingly moreish. I for one have never ordered seconds on anything, but on the night of the launch urged on by my dining companion, we ordered another gluttonous serving of the golden delight with its oozing centre of chocolate and velvety custard sauce to dip it in.
That’s all folks… for now.
QUESTION: So which dessert was your favourite so far this year?