Zumbo for Breakfast

Long before Adriano Zumbo made his grand entrance into the Masterchef kitchen carrying the Croquembouche that inspired the nation, the tiny alley-like pâtisserie in Balmain beckoned visitors from all over Sydney. One look at the arty creations of this Lenôtre-trained pâtissier and it is easy to feel the passion behind his work.

Earlier visits have been a sensory delight, seducing the eye with vivid colours, titillating the mind with eclectic ingredients and building anticipation for that first taste.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe - Balmain

Yet the latest jaunt across town had me wishing Zumbo had another outlet on the other side of the Anzac bridge. Despite arriving at 10 am on a Saturday morning, the pâtisserie was very low on their winter collection, poetically named 40 Days and 40 Nights in Paris. With the premise of an impending delivery, a venture to his café, just a few doors up along Darling Street was in order.

Set in an intimate courtyard, with an indoor section that exudes an ambience redolent of a rive gauche café, colourful macarons and tiny chocolats entice from behind the glass counter. Saffron, Tonka bean, butterscotch, salt and vinegar chip are among those that called out to be taken home. But one had to be patient. Orders were to be placed for a hot chocolate and the morning brew while breakfast was being prepared.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe - BalmainMiss Marple Deconstructed arrived first. Paying homage to Agatha Christie, the delicious crepes filled with maple and mascarpone and glazed in a sticky orange butter were served with fresh strawberries and frozen orange jellies.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe - BalmainParis – La Vie en Rose is a two-part art on a dish, a coconut, strawberry and tapioca shake complemented with layers of rose brûlée, lychees, raspberry sorbet and petite rose macarons, with rose petal decoration on the plate. According to Adriano’s website, it reflects his “passion for all things beautiful and French”. He and I must be kindred spirits.

Back at the pâtisserie, although the cakes had been replenished, it was not to be my lucky day. The mint and black truffle crème brûlée was missing and there was no wheelie dessert to appease the young at heart. But at Zumbo, there is no such thing as settling for any old gâteau.

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie - Balmain Adriano Zumbo Patisserie - Balmain

In the shape of a can of cola, Escape from a Columbian Rainforest comes complete with a ‘Please Recycle’ message on the edible silver lid. However, biting into the chocolate sponge is not recommended or you’ll miss the visual of the cherry cola slurp oozing from the liquid centre.

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie - Balmain

Try pronouncing Youranuse, or point to the dome-shaped orange thing with croutons on top and bits that looks like feet. Then sink your teeth into the mandarin mousse with an almond ginger crunch that elicits smiles for combinations of flavours that complement one another.

A visit to Zumbo is not complete without something to take home for later. Macarons of salted pure nut gianduja, quince passionfruit and chestnut, rhubarb crumble and raspberry leapt from behind the counter and made their way inside the carry box.

Next time I will phone ahead and place an order. After all, lusting after a truffle crème brûlée for too long is bound to be bad for your health.

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie - BalmainAdriano Zumbo Patisserie - Balmain

Related Article:
Adriano Zumbo Pâtisserie and Heart-Shaped Macarons

Adriano Zumbo Pâtisserie
296 Darling St Balmain NSW 2041
Adriano Zumbo Café Chocolat

Shop 5, 308 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041 (Edit: Aug 2010 – now closed)


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.