1110 Middle Head Road, Mosman, New South Wales
I was taking a Sunday drive to Middle Head for some leisurely outdoor activity, walking along the shoreline and enjoying the scenic views. To refresh people engaged in such pastimes in the area, the Middle Head Cafe sits right by the side of the road, conveniently near the car park. We went in for some lunch, looking to sample the home made quiches, which have rave reviews on several sites.
The cafe is in a detached weatherboard building with a wooden verandah, simple but neat and modern. On entering, it looks slightly fancy, with an upmarket menu of cafe items and drinks. Unfortunately they have already run out of quiches by the time we arrived, so we had to make do with a selection of sandwiches and a salad. However, in the cake display they had some vanilla slices. So naturally I ordered one for dessert.
The slice is served on a porcelain plate with a cherry blossom pattern in traditional blue and white glaze, and dusted with icing sugar. It is a traditional looking affair, with three layers of flaky looking pastry surrounding two layers of a very dark yellow custard. The icing is white with a brown matchstick pattern traced on it in thin lines.
I eschew the supplied knife and fork and eat it with my hands. The first impression is that it’s really cold – obviously just out of a refrigerated cabinet. The structure is odd too, with obvious air gaps between the layers of pastry and custard, as if they’ve separated due to thermal stress or something. On biting, the pastry is firm, but not at all crispy – it’s more like an al dente pasta. Perhaps it’s absorbed too much moisture from the custard. The custard is solid and cheesecakey in texture, very firm, and with only the merest hint of vanilla flavour. The icing is too thick and very sugary. Together it’s a somewhat acceptable sweet treat, but it’s not a good example of a vanilla slice. The textures are wrong, there’s no crispness from the pastry, and it’s too sweet and not vanilla-ey enough.
Maybe I’ll come back to try the quiches another day, but I won’t retry the vanila slice.
Vanilla slice: 4/10.