A space-age lab in a historic warehouse may seem an unlikely setting in which to find the perfect croissant, but siblings kate and cameron reid are skilled in the art of pleasant surprises. meet lune croissanterie 2.0, the patisserie taking croissant-making to the outer limits.
Fitzroy, inner-city Melbourne, is a fitting choice for the new home of what could well be the best croissants this side of Paris.
It’s a place that flaunts a deliciously eclectic cultural mix of food, art, music and boho-chic shopping; an area with a past as varied as the people who inhabit its terraced homes, converted industrial spaces and public housing flats.
Lune Croissanterie 2.0 – the updated version of the original Lune Croissanterie in the Melbourne suburb of Elwood (opened 2012), – opened in Fitzroy this October in an old warehouse off the main drag, and has already began to write itself into the area’s history.
The brainchild of Kate Reid, a former aerospace engineer and Formula 1 car designer who learnt how to make perfect pastry in Paris, the tiny Elwood store was so popular people would start lining up for their pastry fix at 5am so they wouldn’t miss out on one of Kate’s delectable creations.
While the location has changed, the popularity of Lune’s croissants has not, with the lines of hopeful patrons that formed at the Elwood store now threading through the streets of Fitzroy.
And in an area where there is an abundant contrast of old and ultra-modern, you could say Lune is a guiding light. Set in a converted 120-year-old warehouse, Lune’s focal point is a space-age glass cube called the Lune Lab, where customers can see the pastry being prepared.
Kate joined forces with her brother Cameron Reid and award-winning restaurateur Nathan Toleman to launch the new venture. Kate and Cameron run the business hands-on with the help of 11 staff, with Nathan in a behind-the-scenes role.
Cameron explains the element of surprise imbued by the space theme to highlight the traditional art of croissant creation is exactly what they were aiming for.
“What we wanted to do was to give the customers an experience of walking into a venue they shouldn’t be in,” he says.
“We wanted to give them a glimpse into the inner workings of the pastry production process that they normally wouldn’t get, and also frame it in a way that would create a bit of theatre with the production.
“We wanted to drop this futuristic glass cube into the centre of this 120-year-old warehouse, to just make a lot of contrasts.”
The contrast is further enhanced by the long, splayed lights on Lune’s ceiling. Inspired by Star Wars and designed by Melbourne-based designer Suzy Tuxen, the lights add to the drama and echo the shape on the boxes the croissants are served in.
But just because Lune has expanded in size and moved to a slick new home, don’t assume the menu is going to deviate from the croissants it is so famous for.
“We’re never going to do that,” Cameron says.
“We’re only every going to make pastries made from croissant pastry. We’re Lune Croissanterie – we don’t make brioche, we don’t make tarts, we don’t do any of that, we just make croissants.
“We believe if you just want to focus on one thing and do it well, then you can be truly great at that. If you try to diversify and do everything, you just can’t put the level of attention into that one product.
“There are plenty of places you can go to around Melbourne, and around the world, where you can get whatever you want. But if you just want the best croissant, and if you want to get a croissant from a bakery that’s just focusing on croissants, then we’re the place to go to.”
Focusing wholly and solely on croissants, Lune now has two offerings, in keeping with the ‘expect the unexpected’ theme that seems to be its ethos.
Firstly, freshly baked croissants can be ordered at the main service counter. There are about 15 varieties available at any given time, with traditional and twice-baked croissants in high demand. Three of the most loved – and, as Cameron describes them, unashamedly decadent – are the Coconut Pandan (coconut frangipane, pandan ganache and shaved organic coconut), Macca Sacca (macadamia frangipane and salted caramel) and Cookies and Cream (vanilla frangipane with cookie chunks, topped with chocolate soil, served with vanilla cream).
“Everything sells out every day and things always sell out at a different rate, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the most popular product is,” Cameron says.
“We’ve never had pastries past midday.”
The second offering is a high-end, three-course experimental pastry degustation, booked and payed for online, on one of eight stools at the Lune Lab. Customers can watch Kate and Cameron at work in the cube cutting and shaping pastries while they eat. Cameron calls this “a kind of conception-to-consumption experience”.
“The first course is always a traditional croissant, because that’s the heart of our business,” Cameron says.
“After that we offer an experimental savoury pastry and an experimental sweet pastry (November’s creations were a Chinese red braised pork belly and a twice-baked chocolate lava).
“We believe some things need to be consumed at the perfect moment. We were finding with some of our pasties, we were doing quite complicated savoury pastries and people were eating them days after.
“It’s our chance to offer up our products in what we deem to be the ideal environment to consume them. And we hand deliver the pastries ourselves and explain to the diners what they’re having, where we got the inspiration from, some of the techniques we used in creating it and why it’s best to be consumed at that time.”
While Lune continues to successfully push new boundaries, there’s one part that remains rigidly inflexible – the pastry recipe.
“When it comes to the simple rules of producing the raw pastry, we do not deviate from the plan,” Cameron says.
“The way we work is kind of like the army. There’s one way to do it, and that’s set by the person at the top – Kate – and everybody has to respect that. Everybody does everything exactly the same as Kate; we don’t detour from it.”
Although Lune Croissanterie 2.0 has only just landed at its new station, Kate and Cameron already have an eye on future opportunities, with “a lot of items up our sleeves that we’re yet to release”, according to Cameron. But with the business having already become part of the Fitzroy foodie landscape, there are no plans to go anywhere any time soon.
“The way we’ve always run the business is to take small steps,” Cameron says.
“We don’t try to get too far ahead of ourselves; we just try to make sure every time we take a step we’ve got our feet on solid ground, then wait until we’re there before we move again.”