CUTTING through South Terrace Piazza recently I spotted newbie cafe Exquise Patisserie, so popped in to see what was on offer.
Owner and chef Esther Duan was delightfully friendly, telling me about coming to Australia from southern China, and honing her pastry-making skills in Sydney.
She also offered me a taste of her chocolate caramel slice, which was so good I promptly bought some to take home.
So here I was, back with a work colleague for lunch.
The savoury menu is limited, just a selection of quiches and a cheese croissant—but in terms of value and taste they can’t be faulted.
Everything is baked in-house and Esther takes the humble quiche to new heights, with feather-light and delicious pastry encasing a flavoursome, savoury filling.
Folding the pastry four times during the rolling is the secret, she says—and using real butter. Her house-made croissants, plain and almond, get the same loving attention, ensuring they too melt in the mouth in an explosion of buttery flakes.
I ordered the pumpkin, red capsicum and gruyere cheese ($6) quiche, while my companion went for the bacon version ($6.50).
Ridiculously well-priced, and certainly filling on their own for lunch, a side salad would make them even more appealing to those who enjoy a leisurely lunch (as opposed to a frenzied work gulping-down).
It never ceases to amaze me how beetroot juices vary from cafe to cafe, and Exquise’s blend of beet, apple and ginger ($6.50) was wonderfully sharp and refreshing.
So, with taste buds stripped back it was time to mobilise at the cake cabinet.
The caramel pumpkin pie ($5.50) is unassuming to look at but really hits the heights in terms of flavour, the biscuit base rich and delicious and the topping not too sweet, but beautifully spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon.
My mate’s mango cheesecake ($7.50) got the thumbs up for its rich creaminess and tasty biscuit base.
Exquise was also on the money with its coffee, full-flavoured without a hint of bitterness.
The cafe sells a range of house-made marshmallows, free from artificial colours—which I hear are well worth a drive for on their own.
And as if that’s not enough, Friday and the weekend is brioche bun loaf time. But get in quick as they sell fast.
Shop 16 South Terrace
open 7 days 7.30am–9pm