Carlton, VIC

Rediscover student life, discuss Il Globo headlines over an espresso, take in a slice of Federation history and eat ’til you burst – yes, you’re in Carlton, the birthplace of Melbourne’s café culture.

Sitting proudly on the city’s northern edge, Victorian terraces and a distant Italian heritage give this old suburb a cultured and sophisticated edge. Lygon Street may be the suburb’s food soul, but it’s the growing number of bakeries and patisseries that are putting Carlton on the map for take-home goods and weekend-worthy breakfasts.

Nestled in heritage-listed holes-in-the-wall, sprawled out in old garages and tucked away in dining strips, Carlton’s bakeries exude plenty of charm. This is a suburb constantly in the midst of a revival, meaning new baking businesses are opening quicker than you can toss a ciabatta – but here are some of our favourites.

1 / Baker D. Chirico

If Daniel Chirico’s St Kilda outlet were a down-to-earth, honest guy, the Carlton bakery would be his well-dressed, worldly cousin. The boutique bakery is one of the Melbourne’s best, praised as much for its original design as its artisan products.

The Victorian-era tessellated brick building is heritage listed, but it’s the ground floor people come to see. Modelled on traditional Parisian bakeries, the curved timber shelves extend the length of the bakery and weave up onto the ceiling. Inspired by bread baskets, the slatted design holds fresh bread from the oven, allowing it to cool while on display.

There’s no coffee or café here, just sourdough, rye bread and a small selection of pastries, fruit buns, brioche, tarts, nougat and Italian custard-filled doughnuts (bomboloni).

“You might have two varieties of bread on show in the shop and people ask, ‘where is all the bread? What time do you start here?’ because they think you’ve only just got in. And I say, ‘no, no, I’ve been here eight hours, it’s just the process’. So they are intrigued,” Daniel says.

“So you tell them, educate them and if the product stands up, well, then the customers appreciate all the effort.”

Our pick: Custard-filled bomboloni

Custard-filled bomboloni Carlton

2 / The French Lettuce

Operating for more than 30 years, The French Lettuce has seen the many cultural faces of Melbourne and today, has cemented itself as a stalwart of Carlton’s bakery and patisserie scene.

The atmosphere is cheerful, and the iced, glazed, piped and sugar-coated cakes liven the space with colour and style. The team prides itself on its wedding showpieces and custom designs, turning its ‘signature chocolate lettuce’ flavour into multi-tier works of art – often including fresh flower arrangements and hand-painted features.

Cakes aside, The French Lettuce isn’t too fancy for old fashioned vanilla slices. In fact, it’s flaky pastry and light, fluffy custard has earnt the shop a spot on a number of ‘best in Melbourne’ foodie lists throughout the years.

On top of the booming bakery business, The French lettuce offers a catering service, which includes pastries and floral arrangements.

Our pick: Vanilla slice

Vanilla slice Carlton

3 / Threshermans Bakehouse

Large and open-planned, this rustic old garage has the feel of a giant caféteria and the reasonable prices to match – perfect for Melbourne University students who make up the bulk of its customers.

Sandwiches, croissants, pies, pasties and bagels are all popular lunch options, while a range of soups, salads, roast vegetables and smoothies add a few more options for the health conscious.

The team don’t bake their own bread onsite – instead opting to bring it in from Carlton Ciabatta – but their homemade cakes and pastries certainly make up for it.

Our pick: Spinach and ricotta pie

Threshermans Bakehouse, Carlton VIC

4 / Depot De Pain

The French take their bread so seriously, every town is required to have a boulangerie. In the off-chance a village is too remote, a depot de pain (bread depot) is allowed, where bread is made off-site and delivered fresh daily.

In much the same way, Depot de Pain stores have fresh goods delivered twice daily from leading South Yarra bakery and parent company French Fantasies (now Dept de Pain) – making it a one-stop-shop for breads, pastries and takeaway meals.

Contained within a fresh, white façade, the designer spaces are sleek and modern, with light wooden panelling and eye-catching artwork.

The bread selection is everything you’d expect from a French bakery; crusty baguettes, fiscelle, classic pain de mie, fruit loaf, sourdough, rye and sandwich/dinner rolls. As for the pastries, the ever-changing menu includes cakes and tarts, including its signature layered opera gateau, classic lemon tarts, mille-feuille, macarons and éclairs.

Parisian-styled breakfasts, lunches and dinners – think croquet monsieur, nicoise salad and beef bourguignon – are also offer at the licenced premises.

Our pick: Layered opera gateau

5 / Brunetti

Italian immigrants have played a hugely important role in Melbourne’s food scene, and the Angele family are largely to thank for the Roman-influence in Carlton. The family has been trading at the Faraday Street location since 1991, transforming the then café into a booming authentic pasticceria.

Founder Giorgio Angele trained in Rome before travelling to Australia in 1956 as the Italian Olympic team’s pastry chef. He was so good Australia begged him to stay – and the rest is history.

Brunetti is now the place to go in Carlton for an Italian-style coffee, cake, gelato or a tempting savoury. Bite-sized tarts sit alongside a wide selection of cakes – including raspberry and white chocolate opera cake, French custard cake and a decadent sacher-torte – as well as panzerotti vaniglia (shortbread filled with baked custard), cannoli, éclairs, beignet and other European choux pastries.

The Angeles’ must be on to a good thing because the Brunetti empire has now expanded to City Square, Camberwell, Myer Melbourne, Melbourne Airport and event in Tanglin Mall, Singapore.

Our pick: Baked lemon tart

6 / Natural Tucker Bakery

Natural Tucker Bakery’s Nicholson Street premises is the site of one of Melbourne’s oldest, turn-of-the-century bakeries. Today, the team maintains the tradition of hands-on baking in its range of organic sourdough breads, pies, cakes, cookies, slices, friands, fruit buns and brownies.

You wouldn’t know it from the huge selection on offer, but the bulk of the products are either vegan or gluten-free – or both.

It’s more functional than fancy, with only a few tables to eat in. Nonetheless, the no-frills décor fits well with the bakery’s hearty and wholesome lunch menu, including broccoli soup, and chicken and lentil pie, as well as the community noticeboard encouraging everything from French classes to yoga.

Our pick: Pumpkin loaf

Click here to upload your own recipe


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.