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La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie, The Rocks, part 2

47 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales
larenaissance.com.au

I’ve reviewed La Renaissance before, testing out their pork and veal sausage roll. But that’s not all they have on their menu, by a long shot. So it was natural that I should return to sample other wares of relevance to this blog.

La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie

Checking the shop’s history on their website, I find that this patisserie began in 1974, when a French pastry chef opened a shop in Roseville. The business subsequently moved to The Rocks in 1994, sited in an historical building built in 1842 (by an ex-Irish highway robber!), where it has been ever since. With this venerable history behind it, one would hope that the products have stood the test of time with their quality.

On this fine day, I sat in, and ordered the second type of sausage roll from the hot food menu, a pork, bacon, and fennel roll. And to follow, of course, one of the vanilla slices. The items are plated for me by a woman serving from behind a tall display counter, and I take them to a small cafe table in the flagstoned courtyard that extends out the back of the shop.

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The Bennelong, Sydney

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales
www.bennelong.com.au

If you’re reviewing sausage rolls in Sydney, there is one place you need to go to sample the ultimate example of the sausage roll elevated to an art form. That place is The Bennelong, Sydney’s most iconic restaurant space, enjoying spectacular harbour views from within the miniature set of pearly white shells at the southern end of the Sydney Opera House. This is not just a place you rock up to on a Saturday at lunch time and grab a roll and a snot block in a brown paper bag. This requires planning, finesse, and a willingness to pay for the experience.

Dawn HDR

On an evening when Mrs Snot Block & Roll had decreed that we should attend the Australian Ballet, we had an excuse to make a booking at this prestigious restaurant for a before-show meal. When chef Peter Gilmore, famously of the outstanding Quay restaurant (listed as one of Restaurant magazine’s 50 best restaurants in the world since 2009), took over running The Bennelong in 2015, he decided to split the food experience into a formal dining area and a more casual seating area by one of the bars. This casual area is known as “Cured & Cultured”, and has an emphasis on fresh “produce-focused” dishes, served raw or cold, though there are a few hot cooked dishes on the menu. All of the plates are designed for tapas-like sharing. And one of these sharing plates is the “suckling pig sausage roll with black garlic sauce”, which comes in at a hefty $24.

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Bourke Street Bakery, Neutral Bay

Shop 7/19-25 Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay, New South Wales
bourkestreetbakery.com.au

Bourke Street Bakery has become a bit of a Sydney institution, as their website will tell you itself – though there is some truth to it. They opened their first bakery in 2004, and have since expanded to a several shops across a bunch of inner city suburbs. They regularly attract rave reviews in the media, and have built a reputation as one of the best bakeries in the city. This is built on a foundation of hand crafted artisan bread, and extended with a range of cakes and sweet pastries, plus a mouth-watering array of savoury pastries.

Bourke Street Bakery

Amongst the latter, they boast a menu of gourmet meat pies, and not one, not two, but three different flavours of sausage roll. In fact, if you search online for “best sausage rolls in Sydney”, Bourke Street Bakery comes up first in many lists. Alas, they don’t do a vanilla slice among their extensive selection of pastries, but ah well, let’s try the sausage rolls anyway. I place my order amidst the horde of hipsters and young mothers with toddlers in tow getting take-away coffees and croissants. My rolls appear on oblong white china plates, one plate per roll. I take them to the outdoor seating in the pedestrian plaza outside and shoo away inquisitively hungry pigeons as I examine the haul.

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The Little French Patisserie, Mosman

840 Military Rd, Mosman, New South Wales
tlfp.com.au

One of the nicest things about having a day off work during the week is that you can travel around the city when everyone else is at work. Everything is open, but the streets are populated mostly by people with free time, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, unlike when hordes of 9-5 workers are around after hours or on weekends.

The Little French Patisserie

On such a fine day, I took a drive to the posh north shore suburb of Mosman, to partake of some of its fine array of victuals. Mosman boasts a swag of high fashion outlets, boutiques, and a high end toy shop featuring such children’s playthings as rocking horses and hand carved wooden soldiers. On the food side, there is a gourmet butcher, and Italian delicatessen, a specialty cheese shop, plenty of trendy cafes, and this place: The Little French Patisserie.

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La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie, The Rocks

47 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales
larenaissance.com.au

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.)

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Dinky-Di Pies & Pastries, Pyrmont

35 Union Street, Pyrmont, New South Wales

I found this place on a day walk around Sydney Harbour, following the Seven Bridges route. With “Pies & Pastries” in the name, this had to be a good place for finding material for this blog. Unfortunately, on the day when I first spotted it, I had just had lunch a few minutes earlier, at a place a block away, so I had to make an excursion to return on another day and sample the wares.

Dinky Di Pies & Pastries

I assumed they would have a vanilla slice as one of the advertised pastries, but upon entering the establishment I discovered that they had more varieties of pies and sausage rolls than sweet baked goods, and that the pastries didn’t include a vanilla slice. I asked if they made them and perhaps rotated their selection from day to day, but the lady behind the counter said they only made the ones currently on display. Nevertheless, I’d made the trip specially, and they certainly had sausage rolls. Not just one, but two different varieties: beef, and lamb and rosemary.

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The Flaky Tart, Kirribilli

4 Ennis Rd, Kirribilli, New South Wales

The Flaky Tart bakery.

I’d had my eye on this bakery for some time, but on my previous visit it was too early to eat lunch, and I had only recently had breakfast. But I had quickly checked they had sausage rolls and vanilla slices, awaiting a more opportune moment. That moment finally did arrive last weekend, having visited the area for a jog along some harbour-side paths and a swim at the North Sydney pool. I earned this!

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Delicia, Naremburn

298 Willoughby Road, Naremburn, New South Wales

This place looked promising from the outside, with a blend of traditional bakery with just a hint of fanciness in the exterior decoration. Heading inside, there was the odd experience of being served by a swarthy Latino guy in jeans and a white T-shirt and bearing three days’ worth of stubble. He would have looked more suitably placed riding a motorbike to his DJ gig on some Mediterranean island than serving meringues and tarts in a fancy bakery in suburban Sydney.

Delicia

I didn’t see a vanilla slice, so I asked if they made them, and the Ibiza DJ said in a lilting Spanish accent that they had none at the moment, but would be making a batch that afternoon. So I made do with a sausage roll and a chicken pie and went outside to sit at a sunny table in the late autumn chill and perform at least the first half of the reviewing duties.

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D&M’s Bakery Cafe, Angaston

36 Murray Street, Angaston, South Australia
dmsbakerycafe.com

This place was a must-visit, as it boldly advertises “the best vanilla slice in the Valley” on all of its promotional material in the tourist guides of the Barossa Valley, and on a large sign outside the premises.

D&M's Bakery Cafe sign

It occupies a traditional neat-looking shop front on the main street of the tiny town of Angaston, but inside it stretches expansively back from the street to form a somewhat funky cafe atmosphere with chill music playing softly. The display counter is large, with a big selection of delicious looking savoury pies, plus dozens of cakes and slices, and then a fresh sandwich bar.

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