Almond Croissants are underrated to say the least. Although a staple of most bakeries/patisseries, they are never given as much credit as their more prominent cousin; the original croissant. Alas, they have the potential to blend the crispyness and buttery goodness of a croissant with the doughy, sweetness of a cake. Needless to say, it’s time we had a list to celebrate these perfect creations and pay our respects to those who do them the well.
These are the best almond croissants in Sydney.
1 – La Renaissance $5/$6.50 (takeaway/eat in) The Rocks
Apparently they sell over 1000 of these weekly making it a clear specialty and they are pretty good. One of the more buttery tasting almond croissants I’ve had, the outside is slightly crunchy with a multitude of almonds and icing sugar scattered over. This houses a delicious cakey core that still resembles a traditional croissant. Let’s just ignore the horrendous $1.50 eat in charge.
With every man and his dog now offering cold brew/drip coffee, not to mention the classic iced coffee that been around for eons, the time has come for cafes to push the boundaries of cold coffee to stand out. Here are some of the most interesting specialty offerings to get your caffeine addiction through the warmer months…or what’s left of them.
Mecca Espresso Shakerato $4 (Ultimo)
This one is all about that extra slap in the face, with not one, but two espresso shots, shaken with sugar syrup. Unfortunately, the take away form comes in a jar, and although we can see that for this drink there’s a particular logic; lid on and shake; it’s still embarrassing to be seen walking around with.
When it comes to burgers, these guys don’t mess about. The burgers are huge, packed with ingredients, with sauces and juices dripping all over the place. Each party is made in house from Australian steak and all ingredients are made/prepared fresh daily.
The restaurant itself is neat and small; probably seating around 15 people inside with a few more outside. Some interesting Star Wars inspired art hangs from the walls and a decent selection of local craft beers stocks the fridge.
To start off with, you have some unique choices of chips; kimchi, pizza and “disco”. These all come in large servings with excessive toppings. Beware that the burgers themselves are huge. Even sharing one serving of chips between three people on top of a burger will probably be too much unless you are inhumanly hungry.
Onto the main event though. The Beef n Beach is the iconic offering at Bonarche; combining aoli with BBQ sauce, beef with bacon and some juicy pineapple to top it all off. It’s big and tasty, but personally, I prefer the Hangover Burger. This genius creation includes a hash brown to complement the beef patty, smokey BBQ, bacon, egg and even a Barocca on the side. Brilliant. But you’d have to have a pretty big hangover appetite to tackle those one.
On the chicken side, the Tender Tokyo is good for something different. A katsu-style crumbed chicken patty interacts with Asian style slaw and kapu dressing. Like the others, they’re big and messy but totally delicious.
Overall, the menu here is extensive. They have all the classics; cheese burger, chicken and cheese, steak burger, portobello mushroom, Hawaiian etc.; as well as some more adventurous offerings (in addition to those already mentioned); Mexican style chicken, porterhouse with eggplant and feta, lentil patty. No matter whether you choose a tried and tested combination or something a little different, they all seem to be pretty damn good. I found anywhere yet that does as well on a quality-price-size basis yet.
14 Norton Street, Leichhardt
Minimalism is the name of the game here as you walk into a reasonably spacious cafe with off white walls which match the counter as well as a couch; the only bit of furniture they have. An open space at the back suggests that there may be some plans ahead to set up more of an eat-in area, but for now there’s simply just a lot of standing space to while you wait for your coffee. Although there’s not much happening, I really liked this low key, unassuming atmosphere, and spaciousness beats its peers which leave queues spilling out on the street.
Following suit with the decor, the menu is also minimalist. It’s all about the coffee and nothing else here, with food options M.I.A. But as long as they do the coffee well, that’s okay.
They offer regular coffee options, as well as a manual drip and a single origin cold brew (mine was from Ethiopia Kolowa) that comes in an adorable little 200ml bottle. Standard flat whites are good; smooth texture, rich body and not burnt. The cold brew was a little bitter compared to most, but is a good option if you want milk free.
Cold brew 5
Manual filter 6
547 Bourke Street Surry Hills
Having opened recently, Edition Coffee Roasters is still quite minimalist and bare with no real decor on the plain white walls and seating for around 20 in the small one room cafe. Not that, that is a problem of course, this can work as a long term style, and Edition certainly seems to rock that style- even the takeaway cup are completely blank.
There is a selection of breakfast options that mainly include gourmet twists on the cafe standards, but let’s get down to the coffee. Considering that Edition roast their own coffee, I expected good quality. Those expectations rose a little when I was charged $4 for a regular coffee. I mean, that’s pretty much airport prices.
The coffee was good. It had a very smooth texture and clean crisp taste. It wasn’t too bitter. It definitely wasn’t burnt and it didn’t taste particularly acidic either. So needless to say it was nice. But was it $4 nice? I don’t think it stood out enough from other coffee bean roasters to warrant the price, although it was good enough that is return.
Price $4 regular coffee
265 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
Images from Edition’s facebook
My hopes are always set fairly high for cafes and eateries tucked away in hidden alleys, just as Creasions is. They specialise in Macarons but also offer a hearty selection of home made granola, cookies and muffins.
The macarons come in a selection of traditional flavours (salted caramel, pistachio, etc) as well as flavours that feature a Japanese twist (plum wine, charcoal and coco, Japanese black caramel, roasted green tea). I of course made my choice from the latter group.
Sadly, the location and unusual flavours only give false hope that ends in a sour disappointment. The shells were chewy and even crunchy at times, resembling more of a burnt meringue than a macaron. A flavours just lacked any real kick that have you the full experience of their uniqueness.
The plum wine could have been anything; there was nothing distinctive about the flavour. The Japanese black caramel tasted more like cinnamon than caramel (maybe this is what it’s meant to taste like?) but at least had a somewhat strong flavour with a salty after taste. The roasted green tea was the nicest of my three with a lot thicket filling and a refreshing taste. But I wouldn’t say that it stood out from competitors’ green tea/ matcha macarons.
The macarons are also very small for their price (smaller than a 20c piece) and despite only asking for three, the server tried to push me into buying a box of six (doubling the order size isn’t a standard upscale opportunity).
Their assortment of other homemade goods may be better (the muffins did look pretty hearty), but I would never return for the sub par macarons.
Price: $2.70 each
21 Alberta Street, Surry Hills
The Grounds of Alexandria saw a big, gaping hole in the market and filled it. The Sculptures by the Sea exhibition attracts huge crowds every year, and aside from hitting the streets of Bondi, what food options have the hordes previously had? Usually a simple bbq. Enter Grounds of Alexandria, ready to supply the art spectators with gourmet juices, signature coffees, breakfast, lunch and dinner at their pop up Grounds by the Sea, sitting pretty amongst the sculptures in Marks Park.
The pop up takes that family-beach-shack type feel, and adds a bit of a cottage garden touch to create a relaxed atmosphere, despite the long queues. There’s quite a contrast in the prices of food and drink- whilst both are creative and high quality offerings, the food is quite reasonable, however the juices will set you back a pretty penny.
A decent sized bowl of Bircher with yoghurt, quinoa, poached peaches, pomegranate seeds and berries will only set you back $10 and a brekkie brioche burger with bacon, avo, cheese and egg, only $12. But a freshly squeezed juice (albeit topped with a nice chunk of watermelon) is $8, add another $3 if you want a smoothie. And the biggest travesty? Market favourite, fresh sugar cane juice is also $8 (my expectations were $5 maximum). Of course you can always opt for the famous Ground’s coffee which holds it standard price.
I went for breakfast, but there are separate menus for lunch and all day and the food, as expected, is pretty damn good. The lines are long though, even at 8:30am the wait for food pick up (including coffee) was 15 minutes. If you don’t want to be trapped in the hot sun for that long, then maybe this isn’t worth it.
Bircher Muesli $10
Marks Park, Bondi Beach
Until November 9th
Kakawa chocolates opened up their small boutique store in the Gaffa centre several years ago now, and the new central location has been a welcome addition to the original Darlinghurst outpost. Not as well known as most of Sydney’s artisan chocolatiers, Kakawa is a fairly well kept secret in the chocolate world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not deserved of attention.
The name Kakawa is taken from the first civilisation to cultivate cocoa beans; the Olmecs of Mexico. All Kakawa’s chocolates are hand made with natural ingredients and void of artificial flavouring and preservatives and gluten free for our intolerant friends.
Kakawa do lots of seasonal chocolates, like hot cross buns for Easter and gingerbread men for Christmas, but some noticeable choices in their regular collection include caramelised banana (like bananofee tart in a chocolate), strawberry and balsamic vinegar, caramelised olive (intrigued? tastes amazing), smokey truffle, sea salt caramel (one of their specialities) and lychee. At $2 each, they’re quite reasonably priced, and all that I’ve tasted have been great.
Aside from the collection of fine chocolates and truffles, Kakawa have a few other unique draw cards. There’s the range of chocolate “CDs”; flat discs of chocolate with different flavourings and toppings, and their chocolate bars- the most notable of which is the dark chocolate bar with liquid sea salt caramel inside! They also do ice cream sandwiches which I’ve been tempted by but have never tasted. Flavours like caramelised black sesame with white chocolate and praline with milk chocolate make me wonder why I haven’t though.
Perhaps my favourite unique Kakawa offering though, are the handmade soft caramels. They’re wrapped up delicately in blank brown paper, all freshly made and soft and gooey. At 80c each, they come in butterscotch, peanut butter (if you like something a little more on the savoury side), apple pie (which seriously tastes like apple pie in caramel form), chocolate and raspberry (very tangy). All are really good and very moorish.
Overall, Gaffa ranks as high on my list of chocolate stores in Sydney, for their quality, value and natural ingredients.
Fine chocolate/truffle $2 each
Chocolate bar $5.80
Caramel 80c each
Ice cream sandwich $5
Chocolate CD $8.50
Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney
This charming bakery/cafe lies within close proximity of the city but channels the relaxed energy of the suburbs. It sits a few minutes walk from the Central Park shopping centre on Cleveland street.
Depending on which side you approach from, you may see the shop front and seating area first- which had that rustic-cool feel typical of the inner west- or you may see the big open kitchen which allows to view the bakers at work.
There are some light meals that can be ordered here, but the baked goods seems to be the main draw card. Aside from their well-known sourdough loaves, Brickfields also do a small range of treats like croissants, brownies, tarts and quiches.
The croissants have a perfectly crisp and flakey shell with delicious layers of buttery goodness; but to my disappointment, there were no almond croissants. I also tried the custard tart which had a nice flakey case and a delicious blend of spices to accompany the egg custard- great for those who want something sweet, but not sickly sweet.
Brickfields also roast their own coffee, which ends up being very smooth and creamy. There are bags of beans for sale, which I was tempted by, but left without.
Brickfields does miss one key factor though. Yes, it’s a nice place to catch up with friends and relax. Yes, the food is good and and tasty. Yes, the prices are okay. But they have no real draw cards which would get me to go too much out of my way to get back there. The range is fairly standard and the quality is good but on par with many other similar places scattered around the city. I’d say it’s great if you’re in the area but not worth travelling too far for.
Regular coffee: $3.50
Sourdough Loaves: $6-6.50
206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale
Some images from Brickfield’s Facebook