Black Star Pastry
Black Star is a cult Sydney patisserie (now a fast-growing chain) that’s become renowned for creating some of Australia’s most photogenic cakes. Now, they’ve come to Melbourne. This is only a temporary residency, but it’s already becoming a fixture in the area.
At any given moment the shop is filled with mums and their prams, office workers and visitors to Rain Room, the immersive art installation right above the store. Almost everybody is after the cake that earned Black Star its fandom – the Strawberry Watermelon Cake.
It was dubbed “Australia’s most Instagrammed dessert” by the the New York Times, and rose to prominence largely thanks to the popularity of Instagram in 2012. Over a million slices of the gluten-free cake – which consists of delicate layers of almond dacquoise (meringue cake), rose-scented cream, fresh watermelon and strawberries, and a sprinkling of pistachio – are sold each year.
Inside, a few pastries are displayed on the counter, but the cakes are nowhere in sight (except for framed paintings of each one hanging from the wall). Your first glimpse of the real deal is when it arrives at your table.
In contrast to the freshness and bright colours of the Strawberry Watermelon, the Japanese Black Forest Cake is dramatic and indulgent, with layers of hojicha (green tea) sponge between cream that's infused with umeshu (a sweet-sour liqueur) and dotted with pieces of confit plum cooked in choya (plum brandy). The cake comes topped with a whole confit plum, dark chocolate shavings and a chocolate-matcha crumb, evoking the look of a forest floor.
Other cakes on the menu include the Pistachio Lemon Zen Cake (pistachio dacquoise, pistachio ganache, white-chocolate mousse and lemon curd); Dragon Cake (sliced dragon fruit on sponge with pineapple-vanilla cream and pomegranate jelly); and a Raspberry Lychee Cake (chocolate-biscuit base, raspberry marshmallows set into vanilla cream, and fresh lychees and berries on top).
Aside from cakes, there are plain croissants (some of Sydney’s best), yuzu-sesame danishes, chocolate florentines and gingerbread ninjas, plus new savoury pastries: a vegetarian danish with ratatouille, and a spicy asparagus and ‘nduja tart with goat’s cheese.
Black Star’s cakes are known for their intricate layers, fresh flavours and photogenic slices. Expect to see shelves lined with the Strawberry Watermelon Cake (a combination of almond dacquoise (meringue cake); rose-water cream; fresh watermelon, strawberries and grapes; and a semi-sweet jelly) alongside other favourites from the Sydney stores, including the refreshing Raspberry Lychee Cake, the rich Pistachio Lemon Zen cake with white-chocolate mousse, and three other cakes.
There’ll be a new cake range too, although Murray is staying mum before the big reveal – but we do know that Melbourne customers will be the first to get their hands on them.
Unfortunately the lamb shank and red wine pie (one of Broadsheet’s picks for best meat pies in Sydney) won’t be making an appearance, but expect to see a number of new savoury options, including a vegetarian ratatouille danish and an asparagus and ‘nduja pastry with a spicy kick.
All Black Star Sydney outposts serve coffee from roaster Little Marionette, but here they’ll be using beans from St Ali.
The pop-up opens on Monday, November 25 at 7am, but we suggest rocking up earlier (though soon you’ll be able to skip the line by ordering online). Black Star St Kilda will be here until at least Easter 2020, when Thè will be serving his popular hot cross buns.
“We are looking to eventually – hopefully – set up a shop here full-time,” Murray says. “I think Melbourne is excited to have us and we’re excited to be here, so we’re definitely looking to become a permanent fixture.”
Black Star opens at 2C Acland Street, St Kilda on Monday, November 25. It will be open Monday to Friday from 7am to 4pm, and weekends from 8am to 5pm.