Flying under the radar, this quiet achieving patisserie is quite simply, excellent.
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. This year alone, two slices of Paris teleported itself into a laneway and an arcade; a recent venture in a steel-and-glass cubicle brought a more Asian-esque macaron-cookie interpretation; but the icing on the cake (or macaron) was an advertising beetle car covered in macarons traipsing across the city. 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. 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. Has the macaron saturation point been reached yet? Perhaps not. With hardly any fanfare, nor any desire to attract the hoards, Macarons Fine Patisserie (MFP) very quietly opened less than a month ago amid the perpetually busy thoroughfare that is Glenferrie Road.
A compact space, a handful of tables are just over an arm’s length away from a long counter stocked with all manner of baked beauties — generously stuffed baguettes that run out very quickly, chocolate truffles and excellent biscotti as side orders to perfectly quaffable coffees. What really captures the eye, or at least MoMo & Coco’s, are the colourful cakes and a splintered prism spectrum of macarons that bookend the counter, as well as being exhibited in the front window.
When purchasing the cakes or macarons for pret-a-porter, they come packaged in a paper-wrapped tray or if so requested, a more sturdy unadorned cardboard box. Cheers to MFP’s staff for being so accommodating as to the latter, demonstrating consideration for the particular circumstances of the customer. Puts other parsimonious patisseries to shame (see here).
The reason why the cake stalwarts such as Brunetti and Laurent have stood the test of time against waves of fickle food fads is that they cater for all tastes and generations, exhibiting equal ability in constructing conventional classics and more adventurous, contemporary creations. By contrast to the overwhelming majority of new patisseries who focus on one or the other, MFP has adopted the tried-and-tested pathway, but with much flair. It is moreover a masterstroke that it has maintained a price tag of a highly do-able $6.40 a piece for its cakes. Photographed here is MoMo & Coco’s first box of cakes from MFP, courtesy of a lovely friend — all three of the contemporary cakes available, and one of the several traditional cakes on offer at MFP. Although not pictured, we also later purchased and sampled a very good citron and fruit tart, and highly recommend these also. Although less complex mousse-cakes than Burch & Purcheses‘ intricate creations, MFP’s contemporary mousse-cakes were far more pronounced in flavour.
Beginning with the first of three more “modern” artisanal cakes, the Dome Sorrento ($6.40) was a beguiling mousse-cake. Enveloped in a splotch-marbled gelatine layer, its centre revealed a creamy jam heart enclosed within a light white chocolate mousse, all constructed over a delicately-flavoured green tea sponge base. It was a genteel, elegant minuet — a resounding favourite among MoMo & Coco’s afternoon tea party.
The below mousse-cake ($6.40) whose name we fail to recall was a striking volcano, with fingers of dark chocolate spilling from its pinnacle. Smothered in a fine scarlet dust powder, it revealed an earthy chocolate mousse that proved a little divisive in taste between MoMo & Coco. Burrowing deeper to its core, one discovered crispy feuilletine nuggets scattered over a thin cake base. It requires a little re-tweaking to the mousse flavours.
Finding more favour with us, the Crunchy Caramel ($6.40) wore a glaring, prisoner-jumpsuit orange hue. A square brick inlaid with a mesmerising smooth pool of viscous molten chocolate of a very dark variety, it was topped with a watchtower shard of white chocolate that reminded MoMo & Coco of Melbourne Southern Cross Station’s wavy roof contraption. Underneath a subtly-flavoured mousse mingling espresso and caramel tones, lay a foundation of exquisitely caramelised biscuit crumble that yielded a slight essence of honey and cinnamon. Lovely.
For the cake traditionalists/puritans, MoMo & Coco recommend MFP’s citron tart (not pictured, apologies). However, you must not, most definitely not bypass MFP’s Opera Slice ($6.40). With our benchmark of an opera slice being one very pricey tower from London’s Joël Robuchon’s Salon de Thé and Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental, MoMo & Coco would bestow very high commendation to MFP’s rendition — a sedulous masterpiece of perfectly proportioned cake levels, meticulously presented, with each layer imparting a symphony of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Topped by a flute of dark dark chocolate. Indescribable. We cannot believe that we had the generosity of heart to share it between four persons. *sob*
If MFP’s story ends with its delectable cakes, anyone would be happy, including MoMo & Coco. However, it continues with a saga of macarons that MoMo & Coco would rate in our top 4 macaron boutiques in Melbourne (alongside La Belle Miette, Cacao and a pop-up macaron maker that we will publish about shortly and link here). Priced at a standard $2.50 a morsel, 12 flavours are available (plus a seasonal Xmas special) and come packaging in clear plastic tubes, all the better for eliciting distracted glances of sheer envy from passersbys and much ooh-aahing from lucky recipients. The same lovely friend of MoMo & Coco purchased our first full set, and we re-purchased later to ensure greater accuracy in our review.
The Espresso Macaron expresses itself as a milky coffee rather than an espresso per se. It is slow to start, a little sweet, but as the tongue lingers on it, a distinctively caffeinated force beams right through for a long finish. It’s a robust macaron, but arguably not as profoundly ground-breaking as Macaron de Paris‘ version.
The White Chocolate Macaron is a somewhat shy introvert, rather than a flamboyant extrovert. With its meringue shells and ganache filling flavoured with white chocolate, it’s rather sweet.
The Milk Chocolate Macaron is confident in its child-friendly, inter-generational sweet friendliness, with a hint of nutella-like hazlenut. It is lovely to see the much-maligned milk chocolate feature in a macaron. Adding it to our favourites list, it is the perfect treat for MoMo & Coco when we cannot decide whether to have a macaron or a piece of chocolate. Here’s to both! Yum!
With sweeps of gold tiger stripes on its shells, the Bitter Chocolate Macaron belies its name and is somewhat lightweight for MoMo & Coco’s preference, with Macaron de Paris‘ and La Belle Miette‘s more illicitly piercing version our benchmarks for dark chocolate macarons in Melbourne. (PS: the macaron is slightly more brown in hue than as pictured below).
It is MoMo & Coco’s good opinion that the more colourful the macarons from MFP, the more flavoursome and the more delectable the macaron becomes. The Framboise Macaron is a ruby red morsel from which blossoms a gentler, though still full-bodied, raspberry flavour compared to the more penetrative version from La Belle Miette. Nonetheless, it arguably surpasses the latter because it does not leave almost-indelible dyed-red lips.
Notwithstanding that the Cassis Macaron seems fuelled with chambord rather than cassis, it left us ever more intoxicated with MFP. Though it probably could be re-labelled for accuracy, MoMo & Coco would add it to our favourite list, alongside Cacao‘s arguably truer Cassis-flavoured macaron.
The Salted Caramel Macaron should be re-named. On our first sampling, it was exquisite as a honey macaron, with a teasing trace of cloves. On our second sampling, it was more caramel than salted.
The Passionfruit Macaron is spiked with that characteristic electric zing, and bisected with a light chocolate ganache. It’s as good as Cacao‘s version…if not possibly better (we would need to re-sample both together side-by-side to make sure though). MoMo & Coco would add it as a favourite.
The Coconut Macaron is neon-bright orange round critter specked with coconut flecks. However, but for the coconut flecks, it has no describable flavour except for agreeable sweetness. It therefore could be more boldly flavoured with coconut.
The Pistachio Macaron is probably the first pistachio macaron to win MoMo & Coco over to the green alien side, because it is slightly sweeter, rather than nuttier. However, Cacao‘s pistachio macaron is a truer flavor for the pistachio-puritans.
The Cheesecake Macaron is most curiously coloured, but what a most unexpected surprise! Melding together the tones of cream cheese and a tinge of lime, it is most definitely a must-try from MFP. MoMo & Coco would definitely add it to our favourite list.
The Xmas Chocolate Fruit Mince Macaron — what can be said? Punctuated with a careful tone of fruit mince and brandy interwoven with Belgian Callebaut chocolate, it would make MoMo & Coco’s Christmas to have a plate of these as petit fours for the sweet end of our family’s Xmas luncheon. Need we say more?
As with their cakes, the macarons at MFP are exceptional, one of Melbourne’s finest.
In terms of appearance – MFP’s macarons do generally suffer from “appearance injuries.” On two separate samplings, although there were no hollow shells, there were one or two very small but forgivable airpockets. More significantly though, MFP’s macarons are similar to Cacao‘s in that they generally have bumpy shells that tend to crack easily, protruding or frilly feet or barely any foot at all (the foot is the rim of the shell). These injuries can be attributed to the macarons being baked at too high a temperature. MFP’s macarons also generally tend towards a flat disposition, rather than a rounded fat macaron. La Belle Miette remains unparalleled, in Melbourne at least, for consistency of appearance.
In terms of taste – Sitting between the flavour-bombs from Cacao or Macaron de Paris, and the more ethereal delicacy of La Belle Miette, MFP’s macarons are nuanced, consistently flavoursome. None are insipidly-flavoured, all-sugar mediocre messes commonly found elsewhere. Two possibly require a little tweaking or re-labelling (the Salted Caramel and the Coconut), but the rest are solidly-rendered classics, with the stand-outs being the Milk Chocolate, Cheesecake, Cassis, Passionfruit, and Xmas macarons. The ganache filling of each macaron is just-right.
In terms of texture – MFP’s macarons closely matches the texture found in macarons from La Belle Miette, though it is perhaps, a microscopic degree less airier. An ideal melt-in-the-mouth balance of crisp, spring, air and slight chewyness. Never crunchy, never soggy, never sticky. Tres bon.
- With regards to maturation – “Maturation” (ie allowing to stand for a day or so, or refrigerate for a few hours) is not necessary. MFP’s macarons may be eaten on the day of purchase and unlike its macaron specialty boutique counterparts, maintains its ideal texture up to day and a half after.
MoMo & Coco believe that the actors in Melbourne’s food scene that become enduring legacies are the tightly-held secrets kept well under the radar, the venues who focus on executing rather than overt self-publicising. To our list of such gems discovered this year (especially Mamor, A La Bouffe, Noir, Merricote, La Belle Miette) — all of which we might note, do not have or use very little of online Facebook/Twitter PR mechanisms and instead rely on old-fashioned, more reliable word-of-mouth — we add MFP. In what seems to be an era of downgrading dining-out to a bums-in-money-in-bums-out experience where service and ambience are relegated to irrelevance, service at MFP is personal and heartfelt: it’s a breath of fresh air when the patissier takes the time to explain what a queried macaron flavour is, to make a cake when it has run out in the counter, to find packaging appropriate to one’s needs. Supported by such lovely staff, blessed with evident skills in both classical and contemporary cake artisanship, Macaron Fine Patisserie (MFP), although still in its infancy, already excels in what it has clearly set out to do — becoming a very fine patisserie indeed.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Macarons Fine Patisserie, 80 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, Vic 3144.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Cakes and macarons.
- ☑ Must-eat: The “Opera” cake and the “Cheesecake” macaron.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Flying under the radar, this quiet achieving patisserie is quite simply, excellent.