Since writing this article, both Dream Cuisine and Autolyse have closed their doors. Dream Cuisine can still be found at the Old Bus Depot Markets.
Sit under the awning and imagine yourself in Paris
There is something so glamorous about a French Patisserie. When you see the large awnings out the front, the lattice chairs, the rows of delicious petit fours, croissants and delicately made creations, you can imagine being on the French Riviera or on the streets of Paris. Here in Canberra, there are a number of patisseries that have channelled this French influence, right down to the large awnings and glossy pastry delights. Some of them are in places that you wouldn't expect, however, once you have tracked them down, it is like you have a little secret to yourself that not many people know about. See below for a list of where to find them and click on the blue link to find the Google map, so you know how to get there - and also how to go back there again for seconds!
Flute Patisserie is located on a busy arterial road in industrial Fyshwick, with traffic roaring by and opposite a busy electrical department store. It is not the idyllic location for a patisserie, however this has not stopped Canberrans from enjoying their traditional fare and authentic mouth-watering treats. This venue looks like a traditional French patisserie, with awnings, lattice chairs and stylised signage. Out the front of the patisserie there are outside tables which look onto the road, however for a quieter, more authentic experience, sit inside and watch the people come in and out of the doors - regularly. Flute specialises in gateaux, flourless cakes, slices, tarts and macarons. This patisserie is only open Monday to Friday and they only accept cash, no credit, so keep that in mind when deciding to visit this traditional café and patisserie. See here for their website, as well here for an article about Flute.
Dream Cuisine Patisserie is also located in Fyshwick, on a back street in this busy suburb, where they specialise in colourful (and delicious!) macarons with a modern flair. Although not as French looking as Flute above, they are worth checking out whilst visiting Fyshwick for their tasty lunches and delicious pastries - see their Facebook for photos. See here for their website and here for an article of Dream Cuisine.
Silo Bakery and Café is a French style patisserie and café in Kingston, a short drive south of the city. The New York Times has described this small patisserie as "…part Brooklyn, part wartime Parisian bakery…". When you walk into the patisserie and café there is a generous supply of tarts, breakfast pastries and artisan breads on offer along the counter. If you want to stay for longer, sit and enjoy a tart with a cup of coffee or have it as dessert after a long and leisurely lunch with a glass of wine. This popular venue is well known around Canberra for over a decade for their beautiful breads and pastries, with lines seen out the door most Saturdays for both their patisserie and café. Their European influenced cafe menu uses local, quality produce such as Canberra black truffles in Winter. Although small inside, with tables for two and a few for four, Silo feels like a sophisticated patisserie from a back street in Paris. See here for the website.
Autolyse is a bakery, patisserie and French inspired café, located on the busy Lonsdale Street in Braddon. There is an outside seating area with lattice chairs and French feel, with a modern mural backdrop - where traditional meets modern. Although it looks like a café from the outside, situated next to an auto shop (which is a remnant from Lonsdale Street's previous life as an auto yard), when you walk inside it feels like a traditional bakery and patisserie. The main feature is the open kitchen so you can watch the bakers at work. Buy artisan fresh bread, croissants, pastries and seasonal, sweet delights to take home or enjoy in the café. Their menu offers French-inspired culinary classics, see here for their current menu and website.
Knead Patisserie is another traditional French Patisserie and bakery, with colourful delights that await inside the door. Knead is a small venue, located inside the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, north of the city, amongst the fish mongers and fruit growers in the region. It is a handy location to do your weekend shopping and pick up some bread, as well as buy some delicious pastries to take home for any occasion. Who needs an excuse to try out their delicious range? Although not large, they offer an extensive selection of French inspired tarts, scrolls, croissants and bakery items. See here for their website.
Sweet chocolate tarts that taste as good as they look. Source: Knead Facebook
In Canberra, there are also a host of other patisseries around the region in local shopping centres and tucked away in quieter locations. Although they may not have traditional French Patisserie décor or menu's, they still have their pastries designed to perfection with an amazing array of sweet treats, tarts, gateaux, cakes and traditional ranges. Check out Croissant D'or (CBD), La Sable Patisserie (Mitchell), 7th and Bake Patisserie (Kingston Foreshore), Whisk Bakery and Patisserie (Phillip), 210 Degrees Bakery and Patisserie (Hughes) and Pastries on Perry (Chapman), to name a few. For an authentic Italian pastry shop experience, enjoy a coffee and pastry at Via Dolce in the CBD, or for something completely different, why not try a modern "Zumbo" style patisserie at Ricardo's in Macquarie or Space Kitchen in Woden - both owned by the same chef.
There are endless choices around Canberra when deciding on a café to sit and enjoy a cake and coffee, however if you visit a French Patisserie it just takes the experience up to a new level of creativity. The sweet delights made by talented pastry chefs are decorated to perfection and almost too good to eat. If you are a sweet tooth, you won't be able to resist!