La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie, The Rocks

47 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales

The Rocks is the oldest and most historical colonial-era area in Sydney, and in fact all of Australia. The first English colonists established their settlement here, on a small peninsula extending into Sydney Harbour. Many of the oldest buildings in the country are here, and many of them are reasonably well preserved. The area has now been adapted with shops, cafes, and restaurants, mostly for tourists, but it’s also a pleasant place for locals to hang out and partake of food and drink.

La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie

Amongst this plethora of eateries is La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie, a French bakery specialising in cakes and tarts of the traditional continental style. In a concession to its quintessentially Aussie location, it also does a line in hot pies and sausage rolls. The pies come in three varieties: Boeuf bourguignon, agneau, et poulet chasseur. The sausage rolls come in two types: pork and veal; and pork, bacon, and fennel. For lunch this day, I decided to sample the pork and veal sausage roll. (I shall have to return to try to pork, bacon, and fennel another day.)

Sausage rolls, La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie

I took the roll out to the lawn on the south side of the Museum of Contemporary Art and sat in one of the deck chairs placed there for people to relax and enjoy the warmth of the mid-autumn day. Examining the roll, I notice it has left a large grease mark on the white paper bag it came in – a characteristic typical of French bakeries and their liberal use of butter in all their baked goods. The pastry is puffy and flaky looking, with a beautiful golden brown hue that contrasts appealingly with the lush green lawn beneath my seat. It looks slightly oversized for the meat encased within, but is generously proportioned, so there’s still a hefty amount of meat filling in there.

Sausage roll, La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie

At the first bite, there is an immediate explosion of juicy flavour from the well spiced and cooked meat. The pastry around it is a little bit too soft and squishy, rather than crispy. This may be because the filling is so juicy that it has made the contacting layers of pastry a touch soggy, rather than any more mortal sin against the pastry gods. I suspect if this had been fresh out of the baking oven, the pastry would have stood up better to scrutiny, but it had clearly been sitting in the warmer to stay hot for a while. In fact, it wasn’t quite hot enough – and this was perhaps the most disappointing thing about it. The roll was tolerably warm, but just a degree or two cooler than I would consider to be optimal serving temperature.

Sausage roll, La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie

The flavour, however, was impeccable. This filling had been prepared with a chef’s knowledge and love, the meat minced and combined with freshly chopped herbs and a good dose of salt and pepper to give it a hearty savoury kick. There were no vegetables like onion or carrot evident in the mix, but tiny green pieces of herbs were present. This is a pretty good sausage roll, but it could have scored a point higher if the warmer had been kept a few degrees hotter.

Pork and veal sausage roll: 8/10

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