Tucked away on the corner of Botany Road and Mandible Street Alexandria unassuming Textbook Boulangerie Patisserie has been a long term goal of John Ralley and Steve Anderson, realised when they opened for business a mere five months ago. The duo, having met over a decade ago during their apprenticeship in the Southern Highlands, have reconvened with a stack of experience under their belts both locally and abroad, having worked with a multitude of the industry’s best.
The bright space of the café allows customers to feel right at home and check out what the team’s fabricating in the open kitchen. Whilst the craftsmanship and delicacy of each beautifully shaped cake on display can be appreciated from the counter, they’re not the patisserie’s only drawcard. The welcoming face of resident barista Benito Brancato is there every day concocting brews from the finest beans supplied by The Little Marionette. If you’re nice to him, he may even make you an expresso. A Mocha extracted from their Mexican Peaberry bean hits the spot, fruity and chocolately with just the right amount of bite.
A wholesome brekky is always on offer with specials changing regularly including Breakfast Burritos ($14) – scrambled egg, mushrooms, oven roasted tomatoes, parmesan & provolone cheeses and a spicy tomato chutney, more traditional Bacon and Egg rolls ($7) and Granola ($14) – House made oat blend served with greek yoghurt and fresh fruit. Taking advantage of the delicious pastries on offer a French Breakfast for Two ($20) creates a difficult choice between Anderson’s fresh baked baguettes, pain au chocolat or plain croissants with butter and jam.
One can’t go past the Mushroom and Spinach though, a tasty mix of grilled King Brown, Enoki and button mushrooms complemented with silky spinach and a rich gooey egg on the fluffiest house made sourdough, it’s simple but executed so well. Lunch is also available and the chance to sample the shop’s savoury items such as their Beef and Truffle pie or Lamb and Rosemary sausage roll.
The cakes however shine and are a must try, recent addition Blueberry Cheesecake (petit $8.50, 7’’ $38.00) is a decadent combination of rich vanilla broken up by a fresh blueberry jam and sticky port jelly on a graham cracker base, it’s quite substantial so pace thyself or maybe share (but only with someone you really like).
Textbook’s Apple crumble (petit $8.50, 6’’ $28.00) has become one of their most popular items. A perfectly smooth green dome encasing poached cinnamon apple, apple custard mousse and Dulcey chocolate bavarois and topped with Pain De Genes it’s surrounded by Holland’s spiced biscuit Speculaas. Whilst the classic flavour combination is a winner, it can be a little bit on the sweeter side.
Moving off the beaten track, Ralley’s expertise in taking classic French technique and applying a modern twist is apparent in his White Chocolate, Mango, Kaffir Lime & Coconut (petit $8.50, 6’’ $28.00). Constructed of white chocolate bavarois, chewy coconut dacquoise biscuit, mango compote and a layer of kaffir lime cremeux, the effect is subtle and complex whilst being light and refreshing at the same time.
Ralley who’s rapsheet includes stints in Michelin starred restaurants across Europe and the fortune of being listed amongst the top 38 pastry chefs in the world in Olivier Dupon’s book The New Patissiers has it down when it comes to good pastry and Anderson who’s worked with the best bakers in Sydney dishes up some mighty fine bread. They both acknowledge without keen business sense you’ll only get so far and it’s that same wisdom of experience and persisting passion which will keep them in good stead and see their business grow.
Textbook Boulangerie Patisserie
Address: 274 Botany Road, Alexandria, NSW
Contact: (02) 9699 6156
Hours: 7:30am – 4:30pm
Photos by Nazia Hafiz for the AU Review.