140-144 Smith Street
Collingwood Vic 3066
Over the past few years Melbourne has gone through something of a croissant frenzy. Foodies have been willing to queue at certain bakeries for hours on end to get their hands on these little parcels of buttery goodness. Crazy as it may seem, we Melburnians are willing to go to great lengths to get our hands on great food and I suspect it’s for this reason renowned pastry chef Gontran Cherrier decided to open his first Australian patisserie here. Located on busy Smith Street, this modern cafe and boulangerie is anything but your cliché French bakery. Gone are the traditional white panelled walls, ornate lights and wrought iron fittings, in their place you’ll find hanging pot plants and neutral coloured booths with timber tables.
Sitting by one of the large front windows with full view of the pastry cabinet, we were in awe of Gontran’s signature creations. Crusty loaves of bread, little chocolate brioches with peaks resembling crowns, delicate pear and hazelnut tarts and of course piles of golden buttery croissants. These croissants and Pain Au Chocolats look like no other. Layer upon layer of flakey pastry each visible to the eye. The structural integrity of these beauties is on a level that I’ve never seen before, well and truly setting them apart from the competition.
But before we hit the pastry cabinet, we decided to line our stomachs with a couple of the dishes from their new spring menu. Built around fresh, rustic and wholesome food, this menu took me to a place where the sun was shinning, the grass was green and everything on my plate was made from fresh ingredients picked that morning and effortlessly turned into a delicious meal. Take the spring salad for example, filled with heaps of fresh ingredients like peas, broad beans, carrots and beets, then topped with a few good sized felafels and some goats cheese, it’s light and healthy, but still quite filling and flavoursome. I could eat this over and over and over again.
In keeping with this mantra of effortless food, the brioche french toast is nothing like any of the others around. We’ve become accustomed to large French toast dishes piled with all manner of ingredients, both sweet and savoury. However this has meant that the attraction has more to do with the toppings and less with the toast. The power in Gontran’s French toast is in its simplicity. Just a good piece of eggy brioche served with a side of creme anglaise and poached rhubarb, it’s not trying to be anything other than authentic French toast.
So Melbourne, if you haven’t already why not visit the new guy in town and be transported to a happy place just like I was.
I was invited as a guest of Gontran Cherrier and Zilla and Brook PR, however all opinions expressed are strictly my own.