150 Lyons Rd, Drummoyne, New South Wales
The focus of my ongoing quest turned from chasing reports of the “best vanilla slice” in Sydney to seeking alleged sighting of the “best sausage roll”. One of these sightings was at the Drummoyne Bakehouse Cafe, which seemed a good excuse to go for a lazy Saturday lunchtime drive during a brief sunny respite from the rainy winter weather of late.
The bakehouse sits on the busy but narrow Lyons Road, running down the centre of the Drummoyne peninsula on the south side of Sydney Harbour. It has a distinctive green, yellow, and brown striped awning and signage visible from the road, and sits next door to Ocean Foods, which also has conspicuous signage, proclaiming it to be the home of the “Best fish and chips in the Universe”. They certainly don’t do things by halves in Drummoyne!
Entering the shop, we find a large, modern counter, stuffed with a bedazzling array of pastries, pies, cakes, and tarts, plus an array of items clearly speaking of Italian influence: biscotti, cannoli, Italian shortbread, pizza, pasta, and arancini. There is also a sandwich bar to one side, and some packs of salami and olives. Behind the counter sits loaves of delicious looking bread and rolls. This is clearly a full-on bakery, and in its cafe guise they also do breakfasts of bacon and eggs and similar things.
The pie warmer is huge, containing a multitude of golden brown pastry cases stuffed with an array of fillings covering the traditional bases: beef, potatoes, mushroom, curry, and so on. But I’m here for the sausage roll, and order one, plus a lamb and rosemary pie to make up a substantial lunch. The roll comes on a Japanese style glazed plate. In appearance, it doesn’t look very promising. The pastry is very yellow in the parts where the oven hasn’t tinged it with light brown, and it is loosely wrapped around the filling, as though someone wasn’t really paying attention to their job. It has a light dusting of crumbs on top, but the main appearance is one of shrivelling and drying out – it doesn’t look good.
But the taste is what really matters. The pastry turns out to be decent, with a good amount of flakiness, but it feels overcooked and dry around the edges. The meat inside is not generous, sitting loosely inside the pastry skin, but hits the mouth with a wallop of seasoning. It’s rather salty, and not very moist. There is no visual evidence whatsoever of any onions or other vegetables, or any fresh herbs. The flavour is really just nothing beyond “salty and savoury”. All this combined with the somewhat small size leaves an unsatisfied feeling. Given the reputation, this is quite simply a big let down. It’s passable, but decidedly middle of the road.
Fortunately the lamb and rosemary pie is much better, and after filling up the savoury stomach on that, it’s time to turn loose the dessert stomach on a vanilla slice. Given the visual appearance of the cake display, I suspect sweets is where this bakery really shines. They have not one, but two varieties of vanilla slice: one with a powdered sugar dusting on top, and the other with a yellow icing. I thought it might be passionfruit, but am informed by the lady behind the counter that it is vanilla icing.
I take an iced slice back to my table, and regard it with envious eyes. It is very generous, built on a triple layer construction principle, with two large slabs of creamy looking custard sandwiched between three thick layers of very crispy looking pastry. The icing on top is quite thick too. I’m a bit scared to tackle this by hand, and indeed on my first bite the slice slips and oozes all over the place (see photo below, taken after just one bite).
But oh my, what a bite! The pastry shatters into crunchy shards that contrast exquisitely with the smooth, creamy custard. It’s a hand-made custard, with some evidence of residual texture from the ingredients, and has a solid hit of vanilla flavour, and it serves to lubricate the diamond-like shards of pastry into a marvellous taste and texture combination. The vanilla icing adds the sugary sweetness that the mild custard lacks, and also contributes a really dense vanilla overtone. It’s a heavenly mess as it disintegrates over my plate. Next time I will tackle one of these with the supplied cake fork – and there will be a next time, because this is absolutely delicious. Although last week’s slice at Pierre’s Patisserie was excellent, I hesitated to give it a perfect score, and I’m glad now because I need the leeway to score this a point higher.
This is the perfect vanilla slice. Forget the sausage roll hype and go here for a vanilla slice.
Sausage roll: 6/10
Vanilla iced vanilla slice: 10/10