I’m completely aware that the following makes me sound like a bit of a stereotype, but I am also accepting of such, so here it goes – I recently visited Paris for the first time and fell in love; now I can’t get enough of French cuisine.
Not the haughty fine dining establishments that serve up $50 plates of pommes frites and pea foam, but the Parisian patisseries that boast three times the menu for a third of the price. I’m talking seasonal vegetable terrines, fresh, flakey croissants (but of course), and the best damn snot block (I mean mille-feuille) that you’ve ever let grace your taste buds.
And you don’t even have to go to South Yarra to get your fix. There are actually loads of French-inspired bakeries in the North – but that doesn’t mean you can pop into any one of them and expect to be transcended into a blissful state of joie de vivre. Not all patisseries are created equal, which is why we compiled the best of the best as a handy little guide for your Europhilic pleasure.
Check these out, and be sure to fill us in on any we may have missed in the comments.
Vegans, rejoice. You can indulge in fine French confections and still maintain your dietary ethics at this Sydney Road café, where dairy and egg-free crème brulée is on the menu. Choukette is a tiny yet comfortable space offering conversational French classes alongside its assortment of baked treats and homemade ice cream. Their coffee is top-notch, rounding out a café that deserves all the recognition it can garner.
This is almost a given when setting up shop in Brunswick, but I can’t help noting that Sugardough also offers a plethora of vegan options- and some pretty healthy ones at that. (We can’t all eat pain au chocolate for brekkie and afternoon tea every day.) For a treat that’s practically all your nutritional needs baked up in cake form, try the wholemeal and fruit muffin- perhaps with a fresh-squeezed OJ to wash it down.
This spot appears bright and quirky but is also classic enough to satisfy the most tried-and-true pastry aficionado. Filou’s is free-standing without much else around it, but that shouldn’t keep you from meandering down Lygon Street to give it a go. The corner shop is the perfect answer to your lunchtime needs, with quiches, veggie slices and pies available for less than the price of a pint. Pair it with a cheeky éclair and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal.
French Lettuce Patisserie
You’d never guess it from the outside, but this Carlton patisserie has a very respectable 4.0 Zomato rating and a reputation for dishing up “the best vanilla slice in Melbourne”. French Lettuce knows dessert; they do have a few savoury goods up for grabs, but sweets of all sorts are their specialty. Presentation is where French Lettuce truly shines. They’ve been crafting beautiful cakes, tarts and macarons for over three decades- obviously enough time to perfect their practice.
Le Café Flo
Their menu is one of the most interesting I’ve seen. It’s made out of old record sleeves and contains more variations of cheese on bread than you’ll know what to do with. You can’t go wrong with a sweet or savoury crepe, complete with add-ons of your choosing. Yet a Croque Mademoiselle or a freshly baked spinach roll are slightly more unique options that also hit home. Café Flo feels like home- maybe not my home, but a home (and one I’m always eager to return to). The owner is always around, making niceties with customers, showcasing the daily specials and adding a bit of extra authenticity to the Thornbury café.
Feature Image Credit: French Lettuce Patisserie