Asian Fusion Café Chinese

STIX – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been eating a lot of good food recently, much to the disappointment of my healthcare team and our mortgage deposit. This morning’s late start for my partner found us at STIX, a farm to table café with a much appreciated all-day menu.

We started with the potato hash ($8). I couldn’t stop her. For what it’s worth, these were great. These were extremely buttery and luscious, multi-layered with a thin crispy of an exterior and a soft interior. Pretty tasty.

The smoked trout rillettes ($24) with fennel and kohlrabi remoulade, celery, pickled eschallot, apricot jam and sourdough toast was next. I enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish, as something I could not dream of making myself. The base of sourdough bread was nice and crusty, with good structural integrity and able to carry the weight of its toppings with ease. The brightness, freshness and crunchiness of the celery was excellent with the more creamy textures of the remoulade and trout rillette. The taste and texture of the rillette, something difficult to make or find outside of a restaurant, were both good, and a reasonable volume was provided with our order.

The poached egg was comically small, though we do understand that when you’re raising the hens yourself there is a spectrum of eggs produced, and it’s not possible to only have 58 gram eggs. Unfortunately the small size of our poached egg may have contributed to its overcooking – I have no photos but it was 0% runny compared to what a normal poached egg is.

The last thing to mention would be the apricot jam, which was just a little bit sweet but added so much to the overall flavour of the dish, complimenting the saltiness and savouriness of the rest of the meal. My partner particularly liked that it was dolloped on in discrete bits, so that some mouthfuls would have some sweetness and others would not.

The very good chicken and sweetcorn congee ($21) was a dish that I felt I could probably make at home, and am in fact probably ethnically and genetically obliged to make at home at some point. It was a really tasty and hot bowl of congee, with a bit of spiciness from some tamari chilli relish, some sweetness from the corn, some ginger, and some saltiness from what I presume is just plain salt. The texture of the rice was very nice and soft, and has prompted me to freeze a bit of washed and soaked rice in my freezer just now so that I can make something similar soon. The chicken was not particularly plentiful, with a shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken kind of quality (though I do not mean to defame – I’m sure it was much fancier than this), but enough for enjoyment. This was ultimately a simple but very well executed dish, one that will inspire me to be a better Asian this week.

I made my partner wait a full twelve minutes after the end of our meal to decide if she still wanted this tea and toast croissant ($9.50). $9.50 is a lot to pay for a croissant. I thought that the earl grey tea cream filling of the croissant was plentiful in volume, but sadly not so in taste. It felt highly calorie dense, fatty and thick, but without the taste payoff that such expenditure should entail. I would’ve much preferred a stronger earl grey taste in this situation, preferably also without as much volume of cream. Filling aside, the marmalade glaze on this croissant was enjoyable, although in my imaginations of Beverly and Betty tea and toast diets (I am, for these six months, a geriatric medicine advanced trainee after all) I had always assumed it was plain toast straight out of the toaster that they were eating. I doubt you would get too malnourished if this croissant were your staple meal.

I don’t know how I feel about a place that only takes card, with a mandatory card surcharge for all payments. It feels like any mandatory, unavoidable surcharge should be built into the menu price from the start, but I guess the gods of the ACCC disagree with me. Pretty good food. Worth a visit.

20 Chapel St, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 2772

Bakery Café Indian South Asian

The Fold – Dulwich Hill NSW Restaurant Review

Though I’ve lived in Wentworthville in the heart of Sydney’s South Asian community for a total of eleven years now in two separate runs, I still don’t really have a good gauge on South Asian food. It’s hard for me, as someone who didn’t grow up in the culture, to know what’s actually good and what’s actually bad, so I must apologise in advance if my thoughts about Dulwich Hill’s The Fold are coloured by my complete lack of cultural competency.

We started our meal with this quite-good Sri Lankan Iced Coffee ($7.50), which was essentially a mixture of chai spices, coffee, and vanilla ice cream (AKA a cold dirty chai). It was quite enjoyable, though a bit expensive, and I had no qualms about recommending it to a random vegetarian who walked into the restaurant just as we were leaving.

The Appa-Appa with free range chicken curry ($24) was a plate consisting of two plain hoppers and one hopper with an egg in it, along with side pots of a mild chicken curry, lunu miris (sambal paste), and seeni sambol (a less spicy onion sambal). We enjoyed the chicken curry, though found it to be extremely mild – likely a product of the restaurant being in Dulwich Hill rather than Pendle Hill. I have literally no standard to compare these hoppers with, but can remark that I enjoyed the crispy thin edges much more than the bases, which I felt were a bit too thick and bready. Again, I have no idea if that’s how it’s meant to be. This is just how I feel.

To illustrate how out of my depth I am here, after eating it as a taco I found out via the internet that you are not meant to eat hoppers as a taco.

The Butterfruit Pann with two poached eggs ($21) was really just another name for avocado toast, but with one delicious twist. This otherwise standard avo toast came with a tiny but delicious pot of pineapple chili relish, with a fascinating sweetness that went incredibly well with the bread and avocado, and elevated each and every bite. I only wish that the pot were a bit larger as we ran out two thirds throughout our meal.

Look at this SICK cutlery.

The food at The Fold was really not bad, and even the otherwise standard avo toast had a nice little twist that elevated it to a new level. Their pastries on display also looked quite good, and though I don’t know if they’re made on site I think I will end up coming back at some point to eat them all.

On a subsequent visit to grab some pastries I learned that they are in fact all made on site. There’s an assortment of relatively standard French as well as South-Asian inspired pastries, though for this visit I erred on the side of caution.

The Plain Croissant ($5.50) was certainly, as described, a plain croissant. I took a leaf from my friend the Sydney Croissant Hunter’s book and brought a serated knife to capture a cross-section from my visit, though in doing so left quite a mess on their table. I wasn’t blown away by this croissant – it was adequately crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but keep in mind that I’m not a croissant expert, and I got this about half an hour before closing, so it wasn’t quite fresh out of the oven.

Next up is this Salted Caramel & Macadamia Scroll ($8.50), a hefty and dense bread-like creation that was a meal in and of itself. Entire bites of this were devoid of any caramel, but this was not so much a problem as this scroll truly reminded me of my love for bread. The salted caramel swirl tasted a little bit dark-cooked (I don’t want to say burnt, I doubt it was ever on fire), and ultimately I think my craving would have been equally served by some stock standard brioche or something.

The Portuguese Tart was a bit sweeter than I usually like, but I enjoyed the flavour as well as the pastry. Even my partner, who doesn’t usually like Portuguese tarts, enjoyed this. It is a shame that she dropped it on the floor before she was finished.

I actually really enjoyed this Black Forest Cake ($8.50). I often get black forest cake thinking that I’ll like it, but it’s never really lived up to my expectation until now. The Fold’s black forest cake was absolutely lovely, with plenty of moistness, dark chocolate, and a discrete and highly tasty cherry layer sandwiched between two layers of dark sponge. Every part of this cake, including the well proportioned mousse-like icing was well executed, and this is now the best black forest cake I’ve ever had.

The Fold. Sri Lankan Inspired
402 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
(02) 8068 2226

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

Bakery Japanese Korean

Bakemono Bakers – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

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 & custard danish ($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.

Bakemono Bakers
273 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000