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
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.
It was a true crime that I was only allowed to try two things at Bakemono, because both things were good and there was therefore a high likelihood that any third thing would’ve been good as well.
This blueberry & custarddanish ($7) was just delicious, with a large heaping of juicy blueberries and just the right amount of sweetness in the custard and pastry to put it into the prime zone. The soft custard, crispy exterior pastry and cloud-like interior pastry all conspired to make a great little treat.
The honey, sesame, and sea salt scroll ($4.50) was also good, though not as perfect as the above mentioned danish. I enjoyed the sweet and sticky honey coating, which had a distinctly Korean feel to it, especially together with the sesame seeds. Though honeyed, the good combination of sweetness and saltiness makes this a scroll not merely for dessert fans, but all bread fans in general.
OVERALL With only a little bench outside for seating, Bakemono serves up delicious little pastries with a Korean and Japanese inspiration without the long wait of a certain Fitzroy-based bakery. Though their selection is limited, I would definitely suggest this place as worth a little swing-by for bready breakfast, maybe to be eaten on the State Library lawn.
I’ve been trying to arrange an all-purpose wedding and interview suit for a few weeks now, a process that has involved several trips into the city, with at least one more to come. On my first trip into the big smoke I wanted to try one of Yeongjin Park’s (ex-Lode) famous pastries at Picco Leo, however arrived there only to find that he had left the previous week, with his specialties off the menu and probably never to return. It was a dark period for the pastry community, with us adherents left in limbo as he moved his operation from the CBD to his new Darlinghurst digs, Tenacious Bakehouse.
I was able to visit Tenacious Bakehouse as a bit of a sidequest from my second of three attendances at SuitSupply. Incredibly small and nondescript, I actually walked past it and around the block through some garbage-smelling alleys before I was able to find what I was looking for.
This Portuguese Tart ($12) was the only thing that I knew I wanted before I went. I’m generally someone who enjoys a Portuguese tart, and this had come highly recommended by some of the city’s top pastryheads (though not the top pastryhead, who I believe is yet to go). Tenacious Bakehouse’s Portuguese Tart has a super-crispy multi-layered pastry, with a deep cup accommodating a huge mass of runny eggy custard. The egg custard filling was softer and runnier than your usual pastel de nata, but not to its detriment, just different. It was not too sweet, one of the defining positive characteristics of any Asian-influenced dessert or pastry. While I enjoyed the unexpected crispiness of the pastry, I did feel that the pastry got a bit bitter towards the edges. It’s certainly baked to a dark brown, as you can see from the photos, and I think probably a little darker than most normal food is baked. Was the pastry a bit burnt? Was it a bit of over-enthusiastic caramelisation? Was it completely intentional? I don’t know, I’m not an expert. Either way, it was easily overlookable, and didn’t really detract from the overall positive experience.
The Pork Mandu ($10) was actually very good. It was like a three-way cross between a croissant, one of those Maltese pastizzi things filled with ricotta and spinach from the freezer aisle at the supermarket, and a Chinese pork bun. (Understanding totally that this is a Korean bakery with Korean staff and literally told to be to be Korean in inspiration by the very nice Korean woman manning the counter, I just haven’t had that many mandus in my time to reference back to, and none that have tasted like this). The pastry here was absolutely top tier, soft, flaky, delicate, oily, and buttery. There was no suspicion of burning, only a sense of suspicion about how they managed to make bread and butter into something so good. The filling was delicious mix of pork and vegetables, with plenty of moistness and rich and savoury umami flavour. Officially/unofficially it was described as a big dumpling, and I love dumplings. I approve of this message.
Next was the extremely unassuming and unattractive Red Bean Pandoro ($10), also recommended to me because I look like I enjoy a good Asian snack. I think the majority of disfigurement comes from the surface layer dusting of yellow powder (I think it might be soy based, I have asked for further clarification – EDIT: Scarlett replied, it is injeolmi based, a Korean rice cake covered in red or mung or azuki or other bean powder), which fills in the Viennoiserie’s natural crevasses. Never having had a pandoro in my life and knowing what they are only from a quick Google, I think I would describe this more as a filled cronutuffin than anything else, with buttery laminated croissant pastry, custard cream filling reminiscent of a filled donut, and in the shape of a muffin. Shape analysis aside, I again quite enjoyed the richness and velvetiness of the internal pastry, which was complimented by this time a sweeter combination of custard cream and red bean paste. The custard cream was surprisingly light and not very viscous, while the red bean paste was more substantial, both in flavour and in texture. The red bean tasted a little bit different to what I had imagined from just looking at it – I wonder if this is because Korean red bean paste is different to Chinese red bean paste, or just because I haven’t had red bean in years because my partner refuses to have it. Either way this dessert as a whole was a little bit sweeter than the Portuguese tart, but very good, possibly better. I couldn’t tell you. I liked all three.
SECOND VISIT, OCTOBER 2022
I found myself back in the area, this time with my partner in tow, and took the opportunity to go back. We had this blueberry tart ($12), laminated pastry with a frangipane filling topped with pastry cream and plump and juicy blueberries. Interestingly the frangipane was a bit herbaceous, kind of basilly, though I am yet to get confirmation. Confirmation received, it was mint.
The other thing we had on our second visit was this banana tiramisu tart ($11). This was pretty good, essentially banoffee, I don’t know what the difference would be between something you’d call banoffee and something you’d call banana tiramisu. It was only whilst looking at my card transaction summary later on at home that I realised that I spent $11-12 a piece on a couple of pastries. I think that it’s easy to ignore the price when you’re there and buying it and then outside and munching it, but that actually is a bit of money, and perhaps why half a decade in the workforce and making a liveable wage (though not by the standards of for example someone even a couple of years into certain fields of finance) we have nothing to really show for it.
All in all, I think you should go. I think there’s probably a bit of a renaissance of Korean-run Viennoiserie on the East Coast at the moment. Maybe it’s my own personal bias as an Asian person, but from Bakemono in Melbourne to Tenacious here in Sydney, some of the highest quality and most interesting pastries are coming from Korean bakers who are able to create both excellent renditions of classics, as well as top-notch fusion offerings.
I’m going to recommend Tenacious Bakehouse to my friend, housemate, and colleague who works down the street at the local faith-based healing service, but he’ll probably tell me he’s had better tarts at some monastery somewhere. Can’t please that guy.
Our most recent Marrickville Vietnamese meal was desserted by a trip down the road to Goodwood Bakeshop, a new-ish bakery offering an assortment of savoury and sweet pastries as well as a range of breads baked on premises. Despite their popularity and a small line down the street, our experience was a festival of speed, with good clarity of displays (sans pricing), a limited and focused offering, and a lack of seating all contributing to fast service.
My first and favourite bite from Goodwood was of their Miso Peanut Butter Cookie ($4), a rich and buttery cookie with a soft centre and crunchy exterior, with umami miso and peanut butter flavours that were delicious and most importantly not too sweet. The light coating of roasted sesame seeds on the superior surface of this cookie served to enhance its Asian-ness, making it overall a good cookie that I would recommend to an Asian or non-Asian friend.
The aforementioned peanut butter cookie was eaten on the street outside the bakery, though the four other sweet treats that we tried were eaten at a secondary location.
The Apple Cardamom Hand Pie ($8) was my first non-cookie bite, and sadly too sweet for my taste. I enjoyed the multi-layered pie crust, but felt that the sticky, sweet filling was a bit overpowering of the whole.
I enjoyed the croissant portion of the Lemon & Hazelnut Twice Baked Croissant ($8), with its nice and crispy crust and buttery interior folds, but again felt that the additions, in particular the lemon marmalade filling, was too sweet for my liking.
At the risk of repeating myself, the Pecan Cardamom Orange Scroll ($8) was again too sweet for my liking. The pastry of this scroll was appropriately dense, and I enjoyed the spicy orange and cardamom flavour and generous helping of pecans within. This would’ve been a winner, in my opinion, if the top layer of icing sugar had been left out.
After hearing me complain about the last three pastries, you will be surprised to read of my thorough enjoyment of this vanilla slice($8). This slice offered a reprieve of the sugar load from our previous entries, with an unusually thick and viscous custardy filling complete with black dots, the universal sign of vanilla excellence. While the pastry wasn’t paradigm changing, the filling was in my opinion quite special and most importantly “not-too-sweet”. Excellent.
OVERALL THOUGHTS The majority of what I had at Goodwood Festival of Sweetness was too sweet for my liking. As always, it’s possible that my preferences in terms of pastries are culture-bound, as “not-too-sweet” is used as a common phrase to denote praise of a dessert in Chinese culture. I’d like to come back for some savoury treats that will hopefully be not-too-salty.