When you see and hear a tousled haired, strong French accented baker in the kitchen from the front counter of Labancz Patisserie — with shelves crammed with bread, pies, and pastries around him — you can’t help thinking that you’ve hit the right spot for lunch.
Pierre Labancz opened his small patisserie about eight months ago on Darling Street, Rozelle. He bakes everything fresh daily, which accounts for the glorious smell and visual feast that greets customers.
They come in for organic sourdough loaves, takeaway coffee, or to grab a seat at one of a hotchpotch of traditional French tables with cast iron bases and tiny circular tops. In true French style the tables spill from the cafe’s interior onto the sidewalk where customers can sit under a deep awning sipping well-made coffee and nibbling one of Labancz’s lovely baked treats.
Treats are plentiful and chalked on a large board behind the counter: baguettes ($7.50) with fillings including ham, dijon, cornichon and greens; ciabatta rolls ($7.50) stuffed with combinations such as tuna, mayo and olive tapenade; quiche ($4.50 or $8 with salad) and croque monsieur ($6). Golden croissants are filled with ham and cheese ($5), there is a pile of pain au chocolat ($3.50), lines of pretty tarts ($5), and on this particular visit a sole surviving muffin de jour ($3.50).
Spinach and feta quiche has just the right egginess in both taste and consistency. It’s surprising how often quiche doesn’t taste of egg. Impossible, you may think! But consider this: poor quality, ageing eggs, with dull yellow yolks, that are cooked far too long, resulting in a solid filling that tastes only of added ingredients — bacon, tomato, onion, etc — if you’re lucky.
At Labancz the quiche filling is slightly squishy and not overly set. The pastry is thin and flakey. Spinach and feta accent rather than over-power.
It’s worth paying extra for the salad, which is far from the usual afterthought into which the odd wretched leaf makes an unwelcome appearance. At Labancz, salad is a pile of well-dressed, fresh leaves, scattered with generous slices of tomato and small cubes of avocado sets. Time and thought have gone into its making.
A regular latte ($3) of the house blend Double Roasters coffee is bold, but a little flat, in flavour. It has a good crema and arrives devoid of fandangled coffee art.
The last remaining white chocolate and passionfruit muffin de jour is generous in size, and a good balance of moisture and crumb. It’s perfect in that not-too sweet kind of way.
There are a few ornaments strewn around the interior that would be more at home in your nana’s house. And the outside toilet lets the side down. Other than this Labancz offers a superb slice of French culinary life.
Labancz’ multigrain and spelt loaf is a welcome addition on the home breakfast menu, too.
Do you have a favourite French patisserie?
719 Darling Street
02 9818 8449