Walking up George St in Sydney’s CBD on a wet and wintery day, it’s not long before our café detector is switched on and honing in on something special. Today, the signal leads us to Black Star Pastry located in the one of the city’s coolest bookstores, Books Kinokuniya. The Black Star Pastry name has come to represent quality and innovation within Sydney’s food scene. With two other locations currently opened in Sydney (Newtown & Rosebery), it’s clear that Black Star is doing something right!
It’s prime Saturday afternoon dessert time, as we somehow pick the timing perfectly and score a table as we walk in. The bright and relaxed space has a cosy feeling to it, helped by the rows of books nearby. With a mingling of chill-out music, and coffee creation murmurings in the background, we head for the counter to place our goodies order.
If you know anything about Black Star Pastry, you’ll know that just as much care goes into the look of their creations as into the ingredients. This makes the task of narrowing down a choice all the more impossible. Biting the bullet, we finally lock in our selections with the patient server. I can only imagine how many times a day the poor server must have to explain the delicacies in her charge. Needless to say, she does it well! A trio of desserts arrive at the table and that attention to aesthetic becomes clear in the detailed flourishes that fill the eye with colour, texture, and bliss.
Which one to try first? Nevermind, the other members of the Coco & Vine team, who are on hand, quickly render the question moot and dive in with fork and spoon. The Salted Caramel Panna cotta is my first mouthful and the simple, yet elegant, construction surprises with refined, but distinct flavours. I honestly have to say that the salted caramel jelly topping is a bit of a revelation. There’s something about the balance of subtle sweetness and salty, savouriness in the caramel notes that displays the talent behind its creation. The salted caramel jelly alone, is worthy of a review, but when it’s skilfully paired with the vanilla bean laced Panna cotta, the dessert becomes truly special.
The strawberry watermelon cake is Black Star Pastry’s signature cake. While most people balk at the idea of combining watermelon and cake in the same sentence, Black Star rises to the challenge and creates a cake that is one-of-a-kind. It starts with a bottom layer of almond dacquoise, which is crushed almond meringue with whipped cream or buttercream to form a biscuit base, followed by a layer of pale yellow rose-scented cream, then thinly sliced slivers of watermelon. Next another layer of the rose-scented cream and brown almond dacquoise and then a final layer of the cream, all topped with strawberries, a sprinkle of pistachios, and dried rose petals. Taste-wise, it is light, fresh, and fragrant to the palate. It is definitely a cake that lives up to the café’s philosophy that “…how a cake eats, is just as important as how it looks…”.
Completing a hat trick of desserts is a lychee and raspberry cake. Ruby red glazed raspberries and pearl-coloured plump lychees sit atop this attractive creation. Piped layers of strawberry-laced vanilla cream and raspberry marshmellow are simply sublime. A rich, yet slightly bitter, chocolate base contrasts beautifully with the sweet layers above. The tropical flavours permeate through each mouthful with hints of rose water that hurtles you towards dessert Shangri-la. Slipping in a raspberry every so often cleanses the palate before another round. Like with the other desserts, there’s delightful balance between the main ingredients. Here’s hoping the lychee and raspberry cake is a permanent addition to the Black Star menu.
With founder Christopher The’ as the driving force behind Black Star’s mission to bring “immediacy, freshness and life” to customers, he has crafted an experience that not only achieves that mission, but brings a simple joy in the process.