LODE Pies & Pastries – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

There is something very special and expensive happening at LODE Pies and Pastries, a venture born during the pandemic as online-order, bake-at-home versions of LuMi’s pies and now come of age as its own little Crown St pastry shop.

This sausage roll ($7) with its filling of differently textured bits of meat was good but did not blow my mind. It is at a high tier of sausage rolls, but it didn’t really do anything extremely special for me to grant it the rank of master.

Lode’s Fruit Tart ($10) changes on a semi-regular basis, and we were treated to this delicious mandarin version on our visit. This tart featured fresh mandarin atop a bed of semi-sweet creme patissiere, itself on top of a nutty and texturally complex mixture of mandarin jam and macadamia frangipane, all of which was encased in and supported by a base of multi-layered flaky pastry. This was a very strong sweet snack, and with Lode’s frequent iterations on the theme of fruit tart certain to be a recurrent drawcard for return visitors.

The Mr Peanut ($11), a log of sugar-dusted croissant dough filled with peanut frangipane, caramelised banana and a hint of dark chocolate was a bit sweeter than its fruity colleague, but still very good. This was an extra-dense log of sweetness and butteriness, with the tried and true breakfast combination of banana, peanut, and chocolate in the filling complimenting but not overpowering the pastry.

The LuMi Pithivier ($20), an unusually expensive pie with a pork and shittake mushroom filling in a laminated pie crust served with a chicken sauce is Lode’s flagship item, and ultimately not mind-blowing, especially at the princely sum commanded. The crust was clearly multi-layered and delicately built, but I didn’t feel that the flavours of the filling was good or special enough to earn it all the accolades heaped upon it online. Maybe the combination of pork and mushroom isn’t so much a novelty to my palate as it is to others. This pie, like the sausage roll, was good but just didn’t blow my mind.

COMMENTS: I thoroughly enjoyed the mandarin tart, as well as the bread-components of each pastry itself, but felt that the fillings of the savoury dishes didn’t quite tickle my fancy. Having said that, my partner is constantly wanting to go back (I resist), and that’s probably a market of goodness in itself.

Lode Pies & Pastries
487 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Bakery Vietnamese

Saigon Rolls – St Leonards NSW Restaurant Review

Saigon Rolls is a small Vietnamese restaurant in St Leonards serving a variety of banh mi, rice paper rolls, and pho. I dropped in on a chilly May morning for a couple of banh mi, eager to fill myself up before a day of minimally catered meetings.

This crackling pork roll ($8) was quite good. Lots of fresh-feeling salads, sufficient meat, at a reasonable price. Not the best I’ve had in my entire life, but did its job well.

The cold meat pork roll with double meat ($9) was really only fine. Again filled with a good amount of salad, I felt that the extra meat was not adequately balanced by extra pate or butter. Maybe it’s my own fault for not asking for double pate as well as double meat, but I find that in most places this balance is made automatically.

Saigon Rolls St Leonards
Kiosk 5/436 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 9410 0988

Asian Fusion Bakery Market Stall

Pantry Story – Wolli Creek NSW Restaurant Review

Pantry Story is one of those out-of-lockdown success stories where a person with the right combination of timing, skill, and social media knowhow is able to launch a brand straight out of their apartment and into an internet base of hungry gourmands. It’s a phenomenon well covered by New York’s Eater, but somewhat less common in the more suburban sprawl of Sydney.

Operating the odd market stall around Sydney’s suburbs and also doing the intermittent batch of pickup orders out of her apartment in Wolli Creek, Mutiara Putri Sucipto draws on her Indonesian heritage to create pan-Asian inspired baked treats of both the sweet and savoury varieties.

This 3 days kimcheese honey focaccia ($7) was really good. The bread was airy and spongy, with a good crispy top layer with a coating of cheese. The kimchi was flavourful but not too strong, and importantly spread not only over the top but throughout the entire loaf. The slight hint of honey added a bit of depth to the saltiness of the cheese and the funkiness of the kimchi without being overpoweringly sweet. Just a great piece of bread.

The 3 days chorizo with sake sauce focaccia ($7) is a newer addition to the menu, and while also good wasn’t as phenomenal as the kimcheese honey focaccia. The quality of the bread remains, this time flavoured with a spread of oven crispied chorizo slices and a light but appreciable sake sauce. Unlike the kimcheese honey focaccia, the flavourings of this one were more limited to the top layer rather than mixed in, hence having less of a lasting and permeating impact on the enjoyment of the whole loaf. Not bad, but second out of the two.

This pandan java cookie ($5.50), like most of Pantry Story’s other cookies is a combination between a cookie and mochi. I seriously enjoyed the soft and thick texture of the cookie, as well as the textural interest added by the layer of mochi within. The flavour was sweet but not too sweet, and ultimately quite pleasant. This was my favourite of the three sweet treats we tried.

The banana bread that started it all, the banana bread with cheesecake filling ($6) was soft, moist, and not too sweet, with a swirl of cream cheese through it. This was an alright banana bread, though not significantly better than the banana bread I’ve had from other places or even made by friends. If I’m being honest the cheesecake swirl did not leave a lasting impression, and perhaps there could have been more of it, or it could have been flavoured more strongly. I wonder if this would’ve been better heated up.

The strawberry milk brochi (brownie-mochi – $7) was the weakest of the bunch. For starters I felt like it was too sweet, both overall but particularly from the pieces of white chocolate spread throughout. The slab of mochi was a bit thicker in comparison to the brownie than it was in the cookie, and whilst that’s probably the point of the fusion item I thought the ratio was better in the cookie. This was also my partner’s least favourite of an otherwise good meal, though her additional complaint which I don’t completely agree with was that she couldn’t actually taste the strawberry in it.

OVERALL THOUGHTS Our haul from Pantry Story was mostly pretty good. The kimcheese honey focaccia and the pandan cookie were the standouts, but generally a strong showing for someone operating out of their apartment. I will watch her career with great interest.

Pantry Story
Various market stalls across Sydney
Pickup at 15 Guess Avenue, Wolli Creek, NSW

Bakery French

Agathé Pâtisserie – South Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

After waiting in line in the rain for 45 minutes outside Lune, I decided to better use what limited time I have on this Earth and eat somewhere else instead. Agathé Pâtisserie, at the South Melbourne Markets (at the time of writing only open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), is a French bakery at least equal to Lune, without the ridiculous social media hype and resultant line.

I really enjoyed this Pandan Croissant ($8). It was sweet, but not too sweet, with a pandan flavour that did not overpower. The pastry was as perfect as any croissant I’ve ever had, fluffy and pillowy on the inside with a good crunchy crust on the outside. Even the physical act of tearing this croissant apart in my hands was pleasurable, with crinkling of crust an almost ASMR like experience. This was instantly one of the best croissants I’ve ever had.

My partner chose this mushroom puff ($7), a savoury pastry of mushroom, onion, bechamel and thyme. It was not bad, again demonstrating good puff pastry qualities, but I did feel that the temperature was not right for what it was. The addition of a bit more heat to soften the toppings would’ve been ideal.

This peach perfect tart was in fact quite perfect. I don’t even know what the words “fresh peach and compote on a breton biscuit topped by lemon myrtle and vanilla chantilly” but I can tell you that it was delicious, and importantly not too sweet. It even came in a nice little cake box, which was wasted on us as we promptly sat down next to the store (in front of a guy selling roasted nuts, who gave us some free nuts to try) and scoffed it down. Yum.

So after we left Agathe and did half a round of the South Melbourne Markets I went back and got this Kougin-Amann ($7), a sweet and extremely buttery croissant-like cake that by tradition is 30% butter and 30% sugar. Delicious but perhaps still secondary to their croissants.

OVERALL: I really think that Agathe takes the cake when it comes to French patisserie in Melbourne. Lune diehards are welcome to wait in line for an hour in the pouring rain while cultured Agathé fans munch on a deliciously buttery croissant, Tuesday to Friday at their CBD store and Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the South Melbourne Markets.

Agathé Pâtisserie
South Melbourne Markets – 322 Coventry St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
0403 222 573

Bakery French

Lune Croissanterie – Fitzroy VIC Restaurant Review

I originally wrote the following two paragraphs as the opening to my review for Agathé Pâtisserie, in my opinion an at least equal French bakery, but on looking back I felt that the level of upset that I was at my attempt to go back to Lune in 2022 deserved its own post.

The first time I went to Lune in 2017 I enjoyed myself. I went to their warehouse in Fitzroy with my then-girlfriend now-fiancée, marvelled at the little pastries in glass cases, enjoyed the interior design of glass and concrete, waited a little bit and had my croissants. It was a nice and yummy time.

The pastries at Lune were the best I’d ever tasted at the time (2017), and as my tastes and experience developed over the next five years I was keen to go back and relive it their well-recognised croissants.

The second time I tried to go to Lune I lined up for 45 minutes in the rain outside their Melbourne CBD spot before I gave up. Not even the novelty of lining up in front of a guy with the same yellow Blunt umbrella as me could keep me going.

There was a lot of sunk-cost thinking involved, but ultimately I do not regret my decision. No croissant is worth that much time and to be completely honest, Agathé Pâtisserie in South Melbourne Markets is just as good, but without the wait.

Lune Croissanterie
119 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065