83 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, New South Wales
I’ve reviewed two different vanilla slices from St Malo already, but when I went in recently they had yet another type in the display! The first two were very fancy and really good, and labelled as “pistachio mille feuille” and “vanilla mille feuille”, but this one was simply labelled as “vanilla slice”. It also looked much less fancy and more like the sort of snot block you get at a cheap roadside bakery, rather than something produced by an upmarket French patisserie. It had to be tried!
The first thing I notice is that it’s quite small. The second thing I notice is the price: a whopping $6. That’s the price I’d expect for something much fancier. Well, I know St Malo is a quality bakery, so hopefully it will live up to the outlay. I fork over my $6 and receive a plate with the slice and a knife – no fork. Not to worry, I plan on tackling it the traditional way, by hand.
The slice is small as I said, made with just two layers of pastry, top and bottom of a slab of pale yellow custard. The topping is passionfruit icing, which looks firmly glazed on top. Inspecting closely, the slice betrays evidence of having sat in the display counter for some time, with a slight drying of the custard on the surface.
It picks up easily and the passionfruit icing has a firm sugary layer which resists any stickiness on the fingers, but underneath it is fairly thick and soft. Biting reveals the major disappointment: the pastry is soft and bendy – obviously having absorbed too much moisture because of sitting for too long. On the other hand, the custard is a delight, with a rich creamy texture and strong vanilla flavour. The texture is almost like a cheesecake filling, rather than really smooth. The icing has a nice strong tangy passionfruit flavour, which complements the sweetness and the vanilla custard very well.
Overall, it tastes really good – a perfect blend of flavours. The only real disappointment is that soggy pastry, with not a shred of crunchiness left at all. If pastry was fresh and crisp this might have been really excellent. But I can only judge on what is in front of me, so I have to mark this one down significantly because of that disappointing pastry.
Vanilla slice: 6/10.