Address: 111 Glenferrie Road, Malvern , Victoria
Phone: (03) 9077 6956
Open: Monday to Thursday, 8am until 6pm
Friday, 8am until 5pm
Sunday, 10am until 4pm
“I have never tasted anything like it” is probably the best thing you can hear when entering a café. At newly opened Sweet Crumble Cafe and Patisserie in Malvern, that’s exactly what the customers are saying.
After graduating with a psychology degree, owner Timna realised that the only way to really fix people was to give them sweets. Okay, so she didn’t actually use those words, but it’s a logical conclusion to draw, don't you think? Her mother and grandmother were brilliant bakers when she was growing up (both have had cook books published) and now some of the family recipes feature in the cabinet, such as her grandmother's biscotti.
Timna was raised in Kenya, so it makes sense that the coffee is an exclusive Kenyan blend. She is currently putting together a breakfast and lunch menu of French pastries and gourmet baguettes (available now!), but you’ll struggle to leave without sampling something sweets. There’s also a catering service available and the patisserie is planning to host baking classes and children’s parties in the near future.
The interior is as enticing as the giant glass display cabinet stuffed with cupcakes, macarons and cookies. Inspiration for the patisserie came from top sweet spots in Italy, New York and LA, but it is the Parisian influence that really shines through. The décor is decidedly French provincial, with rustic wooden tables, a grand banquette seat, basket sofa chairs and shelves adorned with Bonne Maman jams, homemade preserves, toffees, artisan chocolate, glass domes and colourful cupcake wrappers.
Even the packaging, which has clearly been designed with a sharp eye for the brand and the utmost care, is gorgeous. The pale mint green box highlights the candy floss pink font and is possibly more Parisian chic than anything found in Paris.
Down the side of the store is an outdoor sidewalk lined with tables for two. As you step outside you're hit with the perfume of the dried lavender, which is mounted in pots on the brick wall, and instantly whisked away to a chateau in the south of France. Canvas shades shield you from the elements and you can even sneak a look at the macarons being made in the kitchen by the macaron chef, who worked in Paris for seven years.
As for the macarons they come out of the kitchen in an array of flavours and get snatched up quickly. Like most macaron outlets, they will set you back $2.50 a pop, but unlike most macaron outlets, the classic flavours sit alongside more interesting varieties, such as choc beetroot, guava, caramel popcorn, sticky date, hazelnut and pomegranate.
There are also bite-sized delights for those faking restraint, such as cake pops (cakes posing as lollypops on sticks) and pillow-soft squares of handmade marshmallows (flavours include vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, peppermint, coconut, lavender and passionfruit). We tried our luck with the cupcakes and were pleasantly surprised. Usually cupcakes don't taste nearly as good as they look, but as with all generalisations, there are exceptions to the rule. Sweet Crumble is the exception. There are 30 cupcakes to chose from, including red and black velvet, cookies and cream, passionfruit swirl, chocolate ganache, coconut cream, peanut butter swirl, dulce de leche, gingered pumpkin, s’mores and many more.
We sampled the following:
Lemon meringue cupcake: A vanilla cupcake base made with lemon zest and filled with sticky lemon curd, crowned with soft, browned meringue and finished with a slither of candied lemon. Like at least 10 other flavours, the lemon meringue cupcake is dairy free.
Salted caramel cupcake: This one is dangerous. The moist base was again vanilla, although I believe sometimes a chocolate alternative is available, made using dark Belgian chocolate. Either way, it's always filled with oozy caramel. The swirl of caramel icing is drizzled with more caramel, just in case you weren't convinced, and finally sprinkled with crunchy flakes of sea salt.
Snow cone cupcake: This cupcake was the tallest and most unique, how could I resist? As far as I'm concerned this is Sweet Crumble's signature cupcake. The base is a light chocolate cake with a mound of soft "marshmallow" meringue that has been dipped in dark chocolate in a way reminiscent of Mr Whippy ice cream cones. Somehow, it too is dairy free.
The best thing about Sweet Crumble's cupcakes is that many of them have filling. From curd, to moose to caramel, there is usually something interesting waiting to be discovered in the middle. No longer will little kids lick off the icing and throw away the base... it's genius!
The Malvern end of Glenferrie Road was well overdue for some sugarcoating, and Sweet Crumble has added more than a spoonful of sugar to the equation. I am yet to try the macarons, the marshmallows, the cake pops, or the 27 other flavours of cupcakes. I will if you dare me, though.
Excerpts of this blog post were first published in Agenda City.