38 Toorak Road
South Yarra VIC 3141
+61 3 9867 5888
Marty-from-Queensland, the Tony to my Elvira, once said that, ‘Melbourne is a city of fads.’ First, the juice bars. Then, the cupcakes. Then, the macarons. And now, we have pies, taco trucks and Bread Top rip-offs. While it looks like Melburnians are over cupcakes (about effking time, too), it seems like the macaron craze won’t be going anywhere soon. Especially if macaron specialty stores such as Luxbite continue to pop up around town.
Sitting comfortably among the boutiques and yuppy cafes on Toorak Road, Luxbite has been providing non-crumbly and non-tasteless macarons to grateful Melburnians who can’t fly up to Sydney for Adriano Zumbo’s macarons. To be honest, I’m not sure how Luxbite’s macarons compare to Pierre Hermé macarons but if they’re good enough for their thousand or so facebook fans, then they’re good enough for me.
I love how the macarons are displayed in a lit-glass display cabinet, like diamond rings in a jewellery store – they almost look like they’re sparkling! Here at Luxbite, you get macarons that are the perfect size (i.e. not the size of a twenty cent piece, but also not as huge as a Kingston biscuit) and that actually soft with the slightest amount of chewiness, and zero hardness. Plus, they’re full of actual flavour as opposed to just tasting like sugar.
Normally, I would pop by the store after long day of shopping down Chapel Street and buy a box of macarons to take home. I’m not exactly sure how much they cost each, though a box of four is $10, a box of eight is $16 and a box of 16 is $32. The box of eight (above) consists of eight (out of sixteen) of the store’s best-selling flavours. From top to bottom: Kaya toast (Luxbite’s signature flavour), rose & lychee, salted caramel, kaffir lime (in place of chocolate freckle), Sicilian pistachio, peanut butter & jelly, raspberry & white chocolate and watermelon yoghurt.
On another occasion, I tried the following flavours: chocolate freckle, passionfruit, white peach & jasmine, Heilala vanilla crème brûlée, Oreo, Toby’s mocha, choc-cherry and strawberry cream. My favourite would have to be the salted caramel one – there was a perfect balance between sweetness and saltiness, and the texture was equal parts smooth and chewy. Loved it. I also loved the tanginess and the intensity of the passionfruit one, the buttery-ness of the kaya toast one and thought the Heilala one was also pretty damn good – the sugar-coated shell created a very crunchy texture that was akin to cracking open a bowl of real crème brûlée. My eyes also lit up when I bit into the two-toned and black sesame seed-freckled watermelon yoghurt macaron – it was deliciously creamy and tangy, and it tasted more like watermelons than a watermelon Lipsmacker. I, however, can’t say that I liked the chocolate freckle one (too milquetoast) while the kaffir lime leaf one was a bit of a let-down, as it was too dry. Apart from these standard flavours, they also bring out random flavours every now and then. A friend of mine told me that they had vegemite macarons on Australia Day this year, and I’ve also heard unconfirmed reports of black sesame macarons flying out the doors of Luxbite. I’ve yet to see any of these random flavours myself but I guess it means I’ll have to keep coming back until I do!
They don’t just sell macarons too. A glass cabinet with rows of little freshly baked desserts are on display every day, for example, and savoury snacks and meals are available for breakfast and lunch, and everything in between. They also do coffees and teas too. With so many choices to make, it’s hard to know where to start when you’re at Luxbite. For those who struggle to decide, Luxbite offers a ‘Tea Set For Two’ set menu for $42, where you got a whole lot of goodies. This is what dessert-loving Shirley and I received when we decided to go for the tea set one Saturday afternoon:
Sandwiches. On the day we had the tea, they were serving the following sandwiches: camembert and Vegemite; egg and mayo on homemade brioche; and white anchovies, witlof and avocado. I thought the fillings sounded weird enough on paper but when I ate them, I started to wonder what the fudge they were thinking. I like camembert and I don’t mind Vegemite in small doses but together? Ew. And while I love anchovies (especially on pizza, mmm), I don’t like white ones in sandwiches and especially mixed in with witlof and avocado. The fruck?! The egg sandwich did fare much better though – the curried egg and creamy mayo mixture worked well against the sweet brioche bread.
We were also asked to select one dessert each from the glass cabinet. It was a difficult choice but in the end, Shirley chose the apple crumble tart (called the iTart – haha, GET IT? cos it’s an APPLE tart?!) which normally retails at $8.50. It was served in crisp shortbread pastry and filled with a warm cinnamon-y apple filling. A dollop of creamy vanilla mascarpone was there to counteract all the stickiness and sweetness that each mouthful of apple filling provided. It was definitely better than my rose, lychee and raspberry macaron, called Endless Love (also RRP-ing at $8.50). In hindsight, I probably should have chosen one of the lovely caramel desserts but I do like Lionel Richie and sappy 80s ballads so I went along with it. Bad idea. The giant macaron shells were hard, very hard. A far cry from the soft and chewy shells that made Luxbite’s ‘normal’ macarons famous. Okay, I get that the shell for this dessert had to be harder in order to hold the filling together but did it have to be as hard as a brick? As for the filling itself, the raspberries were soaked in some sort of heavy rose mixture that drowned out the natural, tangy flavours of the berries so that the whole thing just tasted like those crappy rose body lotions that you get from those $10 gift packs at Target. I didn’t taste any lychee at all. Fail.
Thankfully, though, the four macarons that we got with the tea set (our choice of flavours: salted caramel, watermelon yoghurt, Heilala vanilla crème brûlée and Toby’s mocha) made up for the endless hate I had for my dessert. Yum.
They served tea from tea forte, a gourmet tea brand that I had never heard of but will be looking to buy if I saw them in stores. The orchid vanilla tea was a sexy, creamy blend of black tea leaves mixed with Madagascar vanilla and a sprinkling of coconut shavings while the organic jasmine green was a clean but soothing mix of green tea leaves and jasmine. I adored the pyramid infusers, twisted on top with a little leaf – too cute!
I thought the tea set was a fantastic idea but at $42, I didn’t think it was worth it – you only saved a few dollars and for what, WTF sandwiches and a crappy dessert? Never again. Since then, I’ve only been back to Luxbite to buy more and more of those delicious macarons. I also tried their other desserts:
Focus fail, I know. The one on the left is the Epic chocolate craving: a rich chocolate slice on a crunchy hazelnut crust topped with a liquidy salted caramel sphere and next to it, the Caramel craving, a caramel slice with a salted caramel macaron on top (both $6.50). I really liked the Epic chocolate craving – being a sucker for anything hazelnut certainly helps – and the lovely sweetness and nuttiness of the cake was wonderfully balanced out by the caramel sphere that jizzed a gooey salty caramel sauce all over the cake when your fork cracked it open. Nice. I was, however, slightly disappointed with the Caramel craving. On paper, it sounded like MY kind of dessert and hell, I love caramel slices like a mofo. The problem with this one, however, was that it was just way too sweet. As in, ‘OH MY! I CAN ONLY HAVE ONE SPOONFUL BEFORE I START TO GO NUTS!’ too sweet! I think it took me like, two days to polish the slice off. No kidding. Far out. I’m definitely staying away from this one, but will continue getting the Epic chocolate craving.
So yes, macarons are arguably faddish. But if every place in Melbourne made them the way Luxbite do, then it’s a fad that I’ll happily admit to liking. And a fad that Queenslanders wish they had.