My friend Laura’s unbridled enthusiasm for the Potato Rosemary and Truffle Bread ($6.50) is what got me intrigued about Strawberry Fields Patisserie in Dulwich Hill. Pastry Chef Godefroy (ex-La Gerbe D'or) only bakes it on Saturday mornings, and if you arrive too late, he’ll have sold out. I know this because I’ve already been back three times to get more of these soft, golden loaves, dotted with potato chunks and pungent with rosemary and the earthy scent of truffle oil.
Arrive earlier in the day by skipping breakfast at home in favour of John’s Scroll ($7). Uniting a cheesy, pastry scroll studded with bacon with a runny yolk poached egg, this is easily in my top three breakfast pastries of all time.
Taken with a well-made Gusto Latte ($4) or Flat White ($4), it’s a hearty and decadent breakfast that’s pleasant to consume on their outdoor tables, shielded from the worst of New Canterbury Road traffic by low, green hedges.
Flaky layers of buttery puff pastry make a lean pork pie - Pate Chaud ($3.50) an object of beauty, besting a more standard cheese stick.
Owner Tina Nguyen, herself a qualified pastry chef, worked alongside the original owner of Strawberry Fields Patisserie, Simon Bimson, for nearly two years. She took over the shop completely in 2015. While she has chosen to keep many items from the previous chef, she has modified them in terms of improving taste and flavour.
“When it comes to our dessert items, every week we try and experiment with new flavours, resulting in our own 'twists' in cakes such as the classic Vanilla Slice, Concorde, Opera cakes and flavoursome mousse combinations such as raspberry and lychee, mango & coconut, passionfruit & white chocolate... the list is endless,” explained Tina.
I try a seasonally appropriate Raspberry Danish ($4.50) decorated with a generous amount of raspberries, which impresses with just the right balance between fresh fruit tartness and sweetness from the delicate custard.
The custard success of Danish prompts us to order a nutmeg-sprinkled Custard Tart ($5.50). A far cry from baked Portuguese-style custard tarts, this shuddering dome of custard summons old-school Aussie custard tarts of yore, then manages to notch up on nostalgia. The crisp pastry shell sits in sharp contrast to its contents - rich, silky-smooth custard that threatens to erupt with every dripping, decadent bite.
Equally as good, the Ricotta Tart ($7) employs a chalkier, scalloped short pastry shell and a ricotta-based filling that’s satisfyingly dense and indulgent. Thin slices of lime and orange offer your palate some acidity in a pleasurable little jolt - the perfect counterpoint to all that rich, creamy goodness.
The only problem you'll find here is choosing – and knowing when to stop.
Leaving with a box of cakes and a bag of Honeycomb ($5) was perhaps a bridge too far...
Strawberry Fields Patisserie
Shop 2 420 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill
Ph: (02) 8021 2294