443 Miller Street, Cammeray, New South Wales
This is an old-fashioned bakery on the main street of Cammeray, in a somewhat run-down shopfront building with a rusting steel awning over it. It seems to have at least two identities, as the signage outside calls it the very descriptive and down-to-earth “Cammeray Cakes”, but once inside there are posters stuck up proclaiming the premises to be “Le Martin Patisserie”.
Whatever the place is called, it’s a small, locally run bakery staffed by a couple of friendly Vietnamese ladies. They do some Vietnamese treats like pork rolls, as well as the usual staples of Australian bakeries. I ordered my sausage roll and vanilla slice and took them out to the nearby shopping plaza across the road to find a seat and eat them.
The roll has nicely crisp pastry, which looks flaky, but with the layers very tightly packed. On some prodding, the pastry proves to be very firm. The meat inside is spicy, with black pepper obvious and maybe some coriander seed, giving it a slightly unusual and exotic flavour. Unfortunately it’s a little bit dry, the the meat is an unappealing smooth grey colour with no evidence of onion or any other vegetable, except for some minuscule trace flecks of green herbs. The overall experience is a little bit weird, and not great. In essence it’s constructed with the right configuration of meat rolled in pastry, but the spices are too reminiscent of southern Asian cuisine for this to work as a classic sausage roll, and the execution is lacking in detail and finesse.
The first thing I noticed about the vanilla slice, even before buying it as I examined the several slices available for sale, is that the pastry on all of them is very dark. It looks downright burnt and unappealing, though there is a huge abundance of flaky layers evident. Two thick layers of this chocolate brown coloured pastry sandwich a slab of mid-yellow custard. The topping is a simple sprinkling of snow white icing sugar. The whole is wrapped in a brown paper cupcake holder, which has to be peeled off from where it is sticking to the custard on the sides.
The custard is smooth looking and this carries through to the texture when taking a bite. It is creamy and has a good strong vanilla flavour. The pastry that looked so unappealing turns out to be deceptively good. It is crisp and light and very flaky, like baklava, with no burnt taste at all. It’s really nice, in fact. The custard oozes out in an acceptably borderline-controlled way as the pastry crumbles into flakes around it with the application of some biting pressure. It’s a little unstable, but holds on as I devour it with pleasure. Despite appearances, this is really quite good.
Sausage roll: 4/10
Vanilla slice: 7/10