Fresh off the back of their My Kitchen Rules experience, Canberra girls Gina and Anna Petridis opened up Pâtissez in Manuka just a few short weeks ago. Normally I wouldn't be too excited by ex-reality show contestants opening up their own place, but having seen some of the photos of their food and drink going around I was pretty keen to check it out!
Pâtissez is located on the lawns at Manuka (near Ona and Urban Pantry), with around 8 tables inside and 6 or 7 outside. Being a smaller establishment they don't take bookings, and I'm told that they've been absolutely swamped with keen customers over the last few weekends, which is a great sign of Canberra's willingness to get behind a new business. As we walk in on a Monday at 12:30pm, the place is buzzing and luckily another couple gets up to leave as we enter so we quickly grab their table.
It's always interesting walking into a new place and letting your eyes wander around and take in all of the details - and at Pâtissez you can't help but become fixated on the big cake cabinet on your right hand side. Not unlike the cake cabinet at Ricardo's in Jamison, it houses a huge range of cakes and pastries - not only inside the cabinet, but also with fresh ones sitting on top! On the way to our table I make a mental note of which ones I'm keen to try after lunch...
Pâtissez's menu is largely driven by brunch-appropriate items - ranging from the Forbidden Rice (a black rice and chia porridge) to a couple of slow cooked meat dishes (Get Pig'd and Cheeky). I can only assume that the Pâtissez BJ (sourdough toast with bacon jam) is a slightly tongue-in-cheek name! I go for the 'Cheeky' (Slow cooked beef cheeks, black eyed beans, poached egg, crusty bread, kale pesto, $19), while Mrs T opts for the 'Field' (Portobello mushrooms, poached eggs, goats cheese, balsamic reduction, shaved truffle & pine nuts on crusty bread, $17).
One of Pâtissez's big drawcards are their hot and cold shakes, which are an indulgent twist on a regular shake and turbocharged with accompaniments like extra cream, cakes and pretzels. Gina proudly tells us that the shakes are her daughter's creations, and I can only imagine the sugar highs and crashes that went along with developing and refining them! I really like the idea of the hot shakes, particularly for a frosty winter's day, and so we order the Muddy Pât and Nutty Pât ($9 each).
Our two shakes quickly arrive, served in big mason jars and with a saucer underneath to collect all of the overflowing bits. They look every bit as decadent as they sound and all of a sudden any thought of post-lunch dessert goes out the window, as the shakes are practically a dessert on their own! Before diving in, we can't help but just pause and admire these concoctions from all angles - it's as much a feast for the eyes as the palate. The Nutty Pât has warm caramel slowly dripping down all the sides of the jar, and comes with a little slice of pecan pie sitting on top, while the Muddy Pât has a ring of chocolate fudge around the top of the jar with a brownie and marshmallow on top.
I take a big sip of the Nutty Pât and ZING! My pupils dilate and my heart rate picks up. The shake is full of sweet, sugary caramel flavour and while it's delicious, it's probably a little too sweet and I'm not getting as much of the saltiness from the salted caramel flavour. The Muddy Pât is more balanced with some of the chocolate flavour offsetting the sweetness in that one.
Anna whizzes past before we get our mains and replaces the cutlery on our table, explaining that they'd just gotten a new set of cutlery that's better for cutting through thick toast - and we appreciate her service and eye for detail. The Field is presented well and tastes great - the mushrooms are earthy, there are big bombs of goats cheese scattered around the eggs, and the balsamic reduction brings it all together.
The Cheeky arrives in a little ceramic pot with a few slices of crusty bread on the side, and it's a warming, hearty dish. As I dig around in the pot, I feel the poached egg sitting in the middle and bring it to the surface, wondering whether it's still runny on the inside or whether the residual heat in the dish has continued cooking it. To my delight, the egg is still cooked perfectly! The beef cheeks are tender and flavoursome - although it would have been nice to have 1 or 2 larger chunks in there rather than have it all shredded.
As we polish off our meals, we notice that have about half of our shakes to finish as well - dessert is definitely off the cards today! If you come here as a couple, I'd recommend getting a shake to share and then you've got a chance of fitting in a cake afterwards!
Overall we really enjoy our visit to Pâtissez and it's great to see them doing so well. The service is quick but friendly, and the girls (as well as Gina's son, the barista) are more than happy to chat, make the effort to come around and ask how everything is, and really contribute to the atmosphere of the small but bustling cafe. It's also interesting watching other diners and it's clear that they've already gained themselves a few regulars.
So the challenge is set... can you finish off one of the shakes, chomp down a main meal, and still have room for dessert?