Thursday, September 15, 2011

LuxBite: Confection Perfection


Address: 38 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Melbourne, 3141

Phone: (03) 9867 5888

Monday, 8am until 8pm
Tuesday, closed
Wednesday to Sunday, 8am until 8pm

On Father's day a couple of weeks ago, my Dad was in Kakadu with my mother, driving around in a camper van on a mission to seek out the most secluded lagoon pools they could find. Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, I was playing ‘mum.’ This is how father's day morphed into 'sibling's day' in my household.

So while families around town were catching up at cafes and giving corny cards to their dads, I grabbed the $50 my parents left me for a Sunday brunch outing and took my younger brothers for dessert at LuxBite instead.


Even before entering this sweet sanctuary in South Yarra, I knew I would approve. Stencilled in gold on the window is LuxBite's mantra, borrowed from Ernestine Ulmer: "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first."

LuxBite buzzes at the bottom of a multilevel building, however the upper storeys are set back, allowing the specialty cafe a beautiful high ceiling adorned with a wooden branch feature light.  Although designed more for takeaway treats than dining in, there are six small tables towards the front of the store (excluding the stools by the window) that are reserved for patrons who wish to sit down and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dessert. Alternatively, there are a few tables out the front with a view of busy Toorak Road.

The interior is flooded with natural light from the huge street window, and the white decor is emphasised by bright, fresh flowers, teacups, kitsch grass rabbit statues and candle holders draped with macarons. There is even a blackboard where dessert related quotes tempt those who prefer sweet to savoury.


But towards the back is where the magic happens. While the glass cabinet that intersects the cashier counter is modest at best, it is brimming with boast-worthy treats. LuxBite's famed macarons rest in plastic cartons stacked neatly on top of each other. This preserves their delicate form as they are whipped up and rearranged due to the high turnover for the trendy biscuit. Their mouth-watering flavours include:

Kaya Toast, Salted Caramel, Mandarin & Saffron, Hazelnut, Vanilla Creme Brulee, White Peach and Jasmine, Raspberry and White Chocolate, Watermelon Yoghurt, Passionfruit, Rose & Lychee, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Strawberry Cream Cheese, Kaffir Lime, Choc Cherry, Toby's Mocha, O-o-Oreo, Sicilian Pistachio and Choc Freckles.

Although Melbourne is manic for macarons at the moment, LuxBite's desserts are what set them apart from other establishments. My brothers and I ordered one each, conditional upon sharing.

I had the 'Caramel Cravings,' a caramel slice with a salted caramel macaron balanced on top. It was small compared to your average baked treat, but this was no ordinary slice. The coconut biscuit base was a crumbly and fragrant support for the soft, rich caramel. The top layer of dark chocolate was sweet and sticky, while the salted caramel macaron had a lovely light texture that complemented the rich filling. The dessert had the sort of texture best understood by picturing the perfect mould of teeth marks left in it after you take a bite.

Then there was the 'Supersized Love,' a name that instantly appealed to my 18-year-old brother, or maybe it was just because it was the biggest dessert on offer. I can tease all I want, but I had serious food envy after trying it. The description on the label in the cabinet simply reads, "Tastes almost like the golden ball" and is a reference to Ferrero Rocher chocolate. While it looks like a giant chocolate macaron with a rich, chocolate filling, this creation revealed something else entirely when cut into. Be prepared for an oozing hazelnut filling surrounded by a fudgy chocolate gânache. You can practically feel it clogging your arteries.


The 10-year-old brother chose the prettiest of the desserts, and one that would usually be further down on my preference list due to the lack of chocolate. However, I soon discovered that the 'Meringue Monster’ tasted as good as it looked. The outside was a soft meringue, piped with precision and turned golden with a blowtorch. A thin layer of white chocolate sponge nestled in the centre, supporting two distinct layers of strawberry and watermelon mousse. The whole creation was sprinkled with pink watermelon dust – truly a work of art.

The desserts were all very rich, an observation supported by the boys being unable to finish their respective choices. Funnily enough, I had no trouble, although my Caramel Craving was a significantly smaller portion.


We ordered some drinks to dilute the sugar hit, including a Belgian mint tea from Tea forté (I adore the little pyramid teabag with a leaf sprouting out the top!), a delicious soy chai latte in a huge mug, and an iced chocolate, which caused my youngest brother to nearly fall off his seat with excitement.


While it may seem wrong to consume anything but desserts at LuxBite, they also serve lunch from 12pm until 3pm, featuring a seasonal soup and a range of tasty sandwiches. There is also an enticing and gourmet breakfast menu, served until midday during the week and until 3pm on weekends. Along with all the usual suspects, there are a range of signature dishes including: - 'MeatBite,' twice cooked pork belly, bacon, Italian pork sausage, baked beans and a homemade potato rosti served cassoulet style, topped with a poached egg.

- 'VegoBite,' poached egg, garlic roasted field mushrooms, baby spinach, poppy seed roasted pumpkin, roasted vine tomatoes and goat's cheese, served with La Madre toast.

- 'SweetBite,' waffles served with Heilala Vanilla roasted plums, whipped honey butter and ice cream.


The staff at LuxBite are as sweet as their desserts. Friendly and informative, they are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. It is likely you will need to call on them for advice on which macarons to try. I know I did! In the end I left with a Passionfruit, Watermelon and Yoghurt, Mandarin and Saffron, and their signature Kaya Toast macaron, all bought for a friend. Luckily, I was able to try them as well!


The standout was the Kaya Toast. Based on a popular snack in Singapore and Malaysia, kaya is a spread flavoured with pandan and made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk. The macaron shell tastes like sweet toast and is buttered lightly before being filled with homemade Kaya. The effort certainly pays off with a detectable coconut aroma unifying the various elements of the macaron.

With such an overwhelming selection of gourmet confection, the only way to try it all is with repeat visits. At Luxbite, I now understand why 'stressed' is 'desserts' spelled backwards. Perhaps next time I will take home the 'Epic Experience,' a box including one of each macaron... all in the name of research, of course!


LuxBite on Urbanspoon

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