L’atelier – the new Monsieur Truffe
Look for the ‘red-door’, I was advised. Sure enough the bright red aberrancy against the muted cement walls was the only thing that shouts: I am here. There was no signage and no we’re-open chalkboard when we arrived. Talk about being obscure…
One of the first things you’ll notice when you push the door ajar, are the bicycle stands and sparse screen of green bamboo, then the huge airy warehouse conversion with weathered bricks, then the bright blue wallpaper shouting out to be seen at the rear, and not to mention the huge chocolate-making-machinery behind the glass walls.
Chocolate for sale!
Just a quick note before I begin on the food: to make life easier for me, I’ve amalgamated a breakfast and post-lunch nibble into one post. So don’t fret, I didn’t eat all of the following in one go.
The most important part of a trip to L’atelier is to have their hot chocolate. On my first visit I went straight for the 85% African blend. For some that may seem insane, but I am such a fan of really dark chocolate, so go figure. It was wickedly dark, creamy, and indulgently intense with the aromas of cocoa, with the tiniest hint of acidity. It was unbelievably good! I ordered it again on my return trip – very much in conflict with my do-not-order-the-same-thing policy. The 70% house blend is by comparison mellower but similarly smooth and wonderfully creamy – suitable for the less intense chocolate drinkers. They also make a decent latte.
Apple and rosemary pancakes. Smoked duck breast. Scrambled eggs – mini potato pancakes containing wedges of apple provides a nice starchy company for the smoky intensity and slightly gelatinous texture of duck breast. Eggs are scrambled well with a fluffy texture and buttery aroma.
French toast. sous vide baby apple. Muesli foam. Mandarin puree – I fall head over heels for a good French toast, and this is definitely one I like a lot. The bread is buttery, soft in the middle with a crispy film of moreish caramelisation. A small cut out holds a baby apple that is a little tart, a little sweet, and surprise-surprise it is filled with ice cream! And a sprinkle of crispy bits and muesli foam to finish (not sure I could make out the foam though).
Rhubarb and pink lady crumble – the scalding hot bowl of golden crumble wafts an irresistible buttery-pastry aroma. Beneath the surface were short strands of juicy rhubarb that provides a balance of tartness alongside the buttery crumble. I suggest you order this to share, as it is quite filling.
Croquet monsieur – just a little teaser. It was what a fellow diner on the communal table was having.
Queensland strawberries, coconut tuile, orange tapioca, syrup – Ok, so the strawberries are vibrantly red, the syrup is not-too-sweet and the coconut tuile is tasty. But I can’t get over my preconceived ideas of what texture tapioca should have. So when met with something chewy and somewhat al dente I am displeased that it isn’t Asian-style soft but a little bouncy. This dish is probably just not my thing.
Tartine Au Chocolate – L’atelier’s house-made chocolate scattered haphazardly, softens and melts onto the buttered toast right before your eyes. The waitress instructs: “add a small pinch of salt, it makes it taste even better”. Smooth melted chocolate, light smear of butter, salt and bread: simply heaven! Did you know that this is meant to be eaten with a pinch of salt? I certainly didn’t.
Rating: Yummy+1, and an honourable +2 for the hot chocolate! Don’t forget to check out their chocolate stands.
Service is efficient and friendly. One particular waitress took much interest in my ‘new-toy’; much to my delight given it was one of the first places I took my camera out to play. P.S. if you look closely at the last photo from my last photography post, you might be able to guess why everyone is laughing.
[ L’atelier ]
351 Lygon St