Saturday, August 18, 2012

Zumbo Dessert Train, Sydney

An edible adventure: Poppet in Sydney

Zumbo Patisserie Dessert Train 

Address: Shop 1, The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont, Sydney (Entry Via Edward Street) 

Mon, store 11am - 10pm | dessert train closed 
Tue to Thu, store 11am - 11pm | dessert train Thu, 6pm - 10.30pm 
Fri to Sat, store 11am - midnight | dessert train Fri 6pm - 11.30pm, Sat 2pm -11.30pm 
Sun, store 11am - 9pm, dessert train | 12pm - 6.30pm 

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity,” said musician, actor and author Oscar Levant. 

I’m here to tell you something similar: there’s a fine line between crazy and practical. Crazy would be spending a foodie weekend in Sydney and eating only at Macdonald’s and Pie Face. Practical would be indulging in a McChicken burger on the way back to your hotel room from a night out after a day of fancy eating.

This fine line became blurred for us after a wonderful 13 course meal at the every-popular Momofuku Seiōbo. Call us crazy, call us practical, we decided to go to patissier extraordinaire Adriano Zumbo’s Dessert Train immediately after Momofuku. Before you judge, let me explain: the Dessert Train is directly opposite Momofuku, no more than five steps away. Both places, while necessary stops on our trip, were not near any other of our ‘must eats’. The solution was staring us right in the face. It was a two-birds-one-stone approach. Our stomachs paid the price, but it was worth it.

You can’t miss Zumbo’s. First of all, there are giant pink letters traced with light bulbs announcing “ZUMBO” in the most outrageous way possible. Then there is the glistening white-tiled space, highlighted with pink, purple and green. It’s something fairy princesses dream of, or at least Willy Wonka. The concept is like Sushi Train except with dessert instead of sushi. A conveyer belt slithers around a table with plates of deconstructed sweets. In the middle of the table, vibrant yellow and orange cogs sprout from faux grass. Above, industrial caged lights emit a neon glow.

Unfortunately, the desserts on the train look way better than they taste. The ‘Violet Crunchie’ consisted of three creamy, aerated mousses, book-shelved by a chunk of honeycomb and a diamond of dark chocolate. It was aesthetically pleasing, but it tasted as if someone had added way too much baking soda, a dash of washing detergent, and had then tried to cover it up with sugar. We couldn’t finish it.

The ‘Ripe Cherry’ was barely an improvement, made up of dehydrated chocolate mousse, cherry compote and coconut foam. It sounds good in theory, but the dessert was overly sweet and left a horrid, artificial aftertaste. Perhaps we chose poorly, or perhaps the dishes we picked off the train were the leftovers from a long day of desserting. Either way, we were determined to enjoy our experience.

We turned to the a la carte menu and ordered the toasted ice cream sandwich of the day, licorice and raspberry. Four triangles of lightly toasted honeyed bread arrived on a rectangular plate, smeared with a chunky spread made from fresh raspberries and decadent licorice ice cream. It saved the day, despite being incredibly rich. Definitely share this dish between two if you visit!

We forced our full stomachs into the store next door. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. Glass boxes reading "in case of emergency break glass" containing macarons were fastened to the far wall, a bathtub with plastic purple shoes filled with chocolate was the centerpiece of the room, and neon containers housing delicate cakes lined the window.

Unable to manage another bite of anything, we ordered two macarons to go: pancake and maple syrup and salted butter popcorn. If the former was amazing, the latter was the best macaron I’ve ever tasted. The perfect balance of sweet and salty with a crisp shell and dense middle, it was textbook perfect.

The desserts off the train were easier on the eye than they were on the tongue. Although the conveyor belt candy was a total flunk, it’s still worth checking out this quirky concept, ordering a la cart, and then purchasing some goodies to take home next door. Unless it’s convenient and you’re pressed for time, I wouldn’t recommend preceding a visit to Zumbo’s Dessert Train with a 13 course meal at Momofuku Seiōbo. For us, it was practical to pop in across the hall. We didn’t even need a golden ticket.

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier on Urbanspoon


  1. Hehe, we had a really similar experience when we went to Sydney a fortnight ago! Dinner at Momofuku (just at the bar for us) and then realising that Zumbo was just opposite, stopped in. (We just bought some takeaway rather than waiting in line for the dessert train - reading your impressions I'm glad we didn't bother waiting!)

    1. Only a foodie would do something so crazy! Great minds, although I must say, yours is definitely superior -- taking away makes so much more sense after such a feast!

  2. I bow down to your stomachs for tackling Zumbo after Momofuku! Seriously though, the dessert train was something I was massively excited by and wanted to give it a whirl. Now - not so much. I'm not a fan of artificial flavours or eating things that remind me of them! HOWEVER, having said that, that toasted ice cream sandwich is making me salivate; it sounds like heaven on a plate. Mmmm.

    Oh, and those macarons sound amazing! I'm so glad you had some positive experiences as well!

    1. No need to bow down to my stomach, it will meet you down there after ingesting so much food!

      Just to clarify -- I doubt the flavours were artificial, they just tasted so because they were awfully sweet. That's just my opinion though and the concept is still a lot of fun!

      Thanks for reading!