It’s cold and dark and there is no one here. Lune Croissanterie, a Melbourne institution that the New York Times this week said made possibly the best croissants in the world, is infamous for long pre-dawn queues of people prepared to wait hours to sample its flaky pastries.
But at 6am on Thursday, two days after NYT food critic Oliver Strand said he still dreams about these croissants, the residential Fitzroy street that houses the squat grey bakery is empty. The first patrons arrive minutes later, hunched into black jackets. One of them is Stanley Csu.
“Before in the old address we had to come very early, like 4am, but now with the bigger place they make more croissant and you can get there like 7am or 8am and still get croissant,” he said.
That is a lot of effort to procure some fancy bendy bread, especially when quite good croissants can be found in most Australian neighbourhoods for much less fuss, but Csu says it’s worth it.
By the time the roller door opens at 7.30am, the queue is 30-strong.
Fifth in line in Victoria Bishop, a pastry chef from Brunswick who has been sent on a reconnaissance mission by her colleagues. It’s her first Lune experience but she knows the place by reputation.
“I’m not a big croissant fan, but everyone raves about them,” she said. Weekend queues wind around the block but Bishop said people were more sensible on Thursdays. “They can’t really take time out of their work life to come get croissants.”
The extremely niche bakery was founded by former aerospace engineer Kate Reid and is co-run with her brother Cameron. Its new Fitzroy premises, opened in October, is hipster flypaper. The line shuffles up to a concrete bench, bare but for one each of the five types of croissant and three cruffins (a croissant muffin crossbreed) available. The siblings, with matching topknots, work in a glass temperature-controlled cube in the centre of the room passing pastry through a dough press. It’s all very impressive.
This correspondent can reveal that the croissants themselves, rigorously tested by Guardian Australia’s Melbourne staff, are very good. One tester reported heart palpitations, although that could have been unrelated.
The traditional versions of their croissant are Tesco-straight, buttery and flaky, and better than most croissants. Guardian staff comments ranged from “it tastes like a knob of butter” to “could be more buttery”. But given that most croissants don’t require you to line up before 7am, the consensus was that they were worth certainly worth a five-minute wait, but perhaps not more.
However Strand, the NYT reviewer, whose palate is undoubtably more refined than that of Guardian staff, reported the same croissants to be “the finest you will find anywhere in the world”.
Views at the Guardian changed somewhat when the ham and gruyere croissants, and the almond croissants, were broken out. These were judged as being worth between one and two hours wait, dependent on cravings. Meanwhile the pecan pie croissant, which costs $11 and is rich enough to feed a family of 15, was judged to be worth camping out overnight for.
Alternatively, of course, you could sleep in and eat toast like a sensible person.
- Lune Croissanterie, 119 Rose Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne. Open Thursday and Friday, 7.30am-3pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8am-3pm
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010