An aspiring addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning sweet scene that offers cookie-like macarons.
The world of sweets have become a popularity contest. For some reason, Melbourne has become enamoured with l’amour for macarons. Late last year, a macaron competition was covered by the print media with great fanfare, while the crafty use of social media saw floods of band-wagoning bloggers and others flock like zombies to the opening of a specialty macaron store in the inner South. Almost every chocolate specialty boutique now stocks a range of these little round critters alongside delectable traditional chocolate products, though only one does it well. This year alone, two slices of Paris teleported itself into a laneway and an arcade, while an advertising beetle car covered in macarons traipsed across the city. It furthermore no longer seems to be possible to have an afternoon tea without seeing these little sweet biscuits featuring on your three-tiered silver service. Located in a literal closet-hole above one of MoMo & Coco’s favourite bar-cum-restaurant (Izakaya Den), Little Feat is a snug fit of a cafe stop recently converted into a specialty macaron shop. There’s no hint of any desire to emulate the francophile beauty of other macaron boutiques though (eg above-mentioned La Belle Miette and Little Royal/A La Folie). Instead, Little Feat is minimalism melded with mercantilism. It’s all modern glass and chrome. Black trays filled with a technicolour spectrum of macarons are arranged like terraced paddy fields. There’s a large coffee machine to one side, and that’s the short and sweet story of Little Feat.
As Little Feat is a new macaron specialty boutique, MoMo & Coco purchased a full-set twice over, in order to write a possibly, more accurate review. Little Feat’s macarons are priced at a more expensive $2.70 a piece (compared to the $2.20-$2.50 at other Melbourne macaron boutiques). The higher cost is likely to cover the costs of the well-considered packaging. With a purchase of six or more macarons, the macarons will arrive in a nice ribboned shopping bag and a very commendably sturdy box that is individually sectioned to craddle each macaron lovingly, and which is emblazoned with the somewhat superfluous words “handmade macarons.” For a purchase of less than six macarons, you will get a little plastic bag which really ought to be reserved for purchases of 1-3 macarons maximum, or risk the venue being labelled parsimonious or uncaring of its products/customers.
The Espresso Macaron is an assault in the mouth. An arousing morsel with a hint of cloves, it is crusted with an actual coffee bean for an extra kick. (Apologies, we had it on it back for this photo so you cannot see the coffee bean). It is more bracing than Cacao‘s version, reaching almost the same intensity as MoMo & Coco’s favourite espresso macaron from Macaron de Paris. A lovely debut.
The Chocolate Hazelnut Macaron is a delight. It’s reminiscent of eating a Gianduiotti or Baci, or even perhaps a Ferrero Rocher before the latter became an over-commercialised “I-see-it-everywhere” chocolate bite. Arguably more robust in flavour than La Belle Miette‘s hazelnut macaron, Little Feat’s rendition is one that MoMo & Coco would add to our favourites list.
Unlike its flirty name, the Tim Tam Tease Macaron proves to be of substance. On our first sampling, its claimed Tim Tam-ness was barely perceptible, but on a second and third, it was evident that the patissier had done a little tweaking and its eponymous flavour became fully expressed. Its ganache filling is imbibed with the characteristic Tim Tam taste — a light milk chocolate essence with a hint of caramel, sandwiched by gentle vanilla shells. MoMo & Coco would add it to our favourites list.
The White Chocolate Macaron is in appearance, an anaemic little thing, and in flavour, gingerly stamped with the characteristic milky sweetness of its constituent namesake. Its endnote features a ghostly nut presence of macadamia. It is bisected by a matching, very light, ganache filling. It could be more boldly flavoured.
The Cookies & Cream Macaron yields a flavour that is similar to an Oreo biscuit…an Oreo biscuit that missed its flavouring step. The taste is more vanilla and chocolate, rather than cookies and cream. It’s as if the ganache filling of Little Feat’s White Chocolate Macaron had merely been replaced by a chocolate one, and superficially scattered with chocolate flakes, two components which did nothing to compensate for a lack of flavour power. Hence, by contrast to the strength of Little Feat’s Tim Tam Tease Macaron, this other cookie-inspired macaron is not as memorable.
The Green Tea Macaron has the unmistakable green tea taste — restrained sweetness layered over a honeyed woody aroma, gliding together like pattering geishas. It’s elegant and subtle, but once again, it is a macaron that probably could have been flavoured with greater audacity.
MoMo & Coco have never been enamoured with pistachio-flavoured macarons, and Little Feat’s version, the Peace-taccio Macaron, does the little green nut no favours. On two samplings, no true pistachio taste was imparted. Indeed, it should be re-labelled: it makes a sweet but flavourless entrance, and is quickly followed by a full-blown, forceful, almost nauseating almond tsunami. If you are an almond nut lover, you may like this peridot-green macaron, though.
The Caramel Macaron is an unfortunate object lesson in the most inaccurate mislabelling, or at the very least, the need to taste before selling to the public. It is rendered as sulphurous in taste as in colour. MoMo & Coco will say no more.
It’s the fruit flavours where Little Feat arguably, excels better. Radiating a pink sunset hue, the Mango Macaron left one part of MoMo & Coco smitten, but the other conflicted. With a shrapnel wafer of mango in its centre, it is quite evocative. However, as with fruit-flavoured things, one too many at one time will deem it artificial and saccharine.
Likewise the curiously-named Craspberry Macaron, unique because of the inclusion of tiny dried cranberries enfolded through its berry ganache filling. Although not as robustly flavoured as the berry equivalents found at La Belle Miette, Cacao and Macaron de Paris, it’s quite, quite, exquisite.
The Cherry Ripe Macaron holds a heart of a quartered maraschino cherry in a very sensual, velvety raspberry chocolate ganache filling. However, the potent ferocity of a maraschino cherry or a grigottine is carried no further. Indeed, the less-sensitive palate of one part of MoMo & Coco found it difficult in all honesty, to distinguish it from the preceding Craspberry Macaron.
The deep midnight purple Blackcurrant Macaron is electrifying. It opens softly, sings a full-bodied blackcurrant hymn that is punctuated midway by a tiny dried berry, before ending with a slight plummy taste. More fruity and wholesome than the more robust blackcurrant-liqueur-based cassis and kir royale inspirations from Cacao and La Belle Miette respectively, MoMo & Coco would add this little round critter to our favourite list.
Little Feat’s macarons remind MoMo & Coco of macarons sampled in Asia, rather than Europe/UK.
- In terms of appearance – Little Feat’s macarons are especially commendable for their consistent appearance, ticking the list of symmetrical shape, and always present, never-protruding, moderately-sized feet. They do however have slightly pimply bumpy shells, and err towards a flatty appearance, rather than fatty. If eaten within a day of purchase, there are no air pockets in their meringue discs. However, more than a day later, the meringue collapses upon itself, and the shells become entirely hollow and crunchy, an effect that could be attributed to being baked at too high a temperature.
In terms of taste – Little Feat’s macarons are distinguishable in imparting a more savoury accent to the macaron. This can be attributed to their well-balanced ganache fillings that are neither buttery, oily, drippy, gritty, nor overly sugary. Furthermore, Little Feat sets a standard with their fruit-flavoured macarons with little surprises embedded inside (the Mango and Blackcurrant are quite special), and a few of the classics (the Espresso, Chocolate Hazelnut, Tim Tam Tease). It’s a pity then that there exists wide inconsistency in flavour manifestation with the other macarons from Little Feat’s repertoire. As such, Cacao and Macaron de Paris continue to reign supreme on consistent flavour-power, and La Belle Miette and another pop-up macaron maker (review coming soon) on nuanced delicacy.
In terms of texture – The ideal macaron should not be overly crunchy (eg Macaron de Paris, and Lindt, Laurent), undesirably soggy (eg as found at an overhyped inner-South macaron store), nor fairy-like with no bite (eg A La Folie). Very similar to the macaron texture favoured in Asia, Little Feat’s macarons have a distinctively chewy, bordering on gummy texture. It’s akin to a soft cookie, or slightly rubbery, undercooked meringue. It pulls apart like a child’s confectionery roll-up. If you like to move your gums when eating a macaron, Little Feat’s macaron are for you. For MoMo & Coco personally, we prefer a macaron that has a balance of crisp, spring, and air, a melt-in-the-mouth sensation with a slight chew (eg as found at La Belle Miette and another pop-up macaron maker which we will review soon and link here).
With regards to maturation – “Maturation” (ie allowing to stand for a day or so, or refrigerate for a few hours) is not recommended. Little Feat’s macarons are best eaten within a day of purchase. More than a day afterwards, the macarons take on a hollow and crunchy character.
In an increasingly competitive sweet landscape, the opening of Little Feat is most certainly a feat. It is a difficult endeavour to produce macarons that are distinguishable, if not better, than other existing specialty macaron makers. In accordance with our blog philosophy, MoMo & Coco will express our ambivalence rather than negativity. We would further note that no other sweet irresistible divides the populace quite like the macaron — almost everyone has individual preferences. As such, notwithstanding MoMo & Coco’s serious vacillations about Little Feat’s oscillations, it is likely that Little Feat’s particular interpretation of this 21st century bourgeois burger will become the go-to place for those who love fruity flavours, and/or who prefer less sugary, more chewy, rather dense mini-cookie-like macarons. It’s an aspiring addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning sweet scene.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Little Feat Macarons, 114 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD, Vic 3000.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Mango” and “Blackcurrant” macarons.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: An aspiring addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning sweet scene that offers cookie-like macarons.