The morning ride to Werribee Open Range Zoo was suddenly met with a low growl from the tummy, dictating a stopover for another bite at Hoppers Crossing. The yearning for something freshly baked suddenly became the prime directive. All eyes scanned the short strip of shops along Old Geelong Road, opposite the train station. I zoomed into a van bearing the words "Traditional", behind which stood a bakery with the logo styling of a baker and a stalk of wheat. The feet did the walking.
Pauls Traditional Bakery & Cafe is what you would expect from any bakery, with shelves of bread and counters filled with baked goodies. There were caramel slices, cinnamon donuts, cream sponges, jam donuts [that looked as tempting as American Donuts' in Queen Victoria Market] and many more. It is also a cafe, albeit a small one with approximately 10 covers. I'm assuming most customer do takeaways.
What's interesting is Paul is proudly Australian owned and also wears the label of producing all his own products. His knowledge and passion for baking is translated into his specialty loaf, the Pugliese. It is an Italian Sourdough made using a 7 hour dough process and baked on stone to give maximum flavour and golden crust.
With a compelling statement like "Our Pies are our pride", I knew what I had to try. I've had plenty of you-can't-stop-at-one pies all around and outside Australia, the most recent being the curried scallop pie at The Richmond Bakery in the Tasmanian town of Richmond.
I knifed his small steak pie right through the middle, sliding easily through the crusty top with slight resistance at the bottom. The filling held together without flowing onto the plate. Just the right kind you can pick up and bite into without being messy like the poorly made cousins.
So far so good and now for the taste test. Every bite of Paul's pepper steak pie delivered rich and thick flavours of chunky beef with hints of black pepper. The pie crust was fragrant, with the right balance of dough and filling. Maybe Paul should consider taking his pies on the roads of Melbourne in a food truck. The Del Zotti coffee that accompanied the pie was acceptable, just not the addictive rich and full bodied brew of Sensory Labs or Market Lane.
There's no mistaking Paul who is moving regularly between the kitchen and the counter. The customers seem to know and like him from the banter. Counter service is also smiley and friendly. I now know where to go for a traditionally satisfying pie in Werribee.