There’s a delicious aroma on Tivoli Road, which has hordes of hungry locals and tourists salivating at the slightest whiff. Follow your nose towards the lingering smell of freshly baked breads and pastries and you’ll soon find one of South Yarra’s most popular haunts, the Tivoli Road Bakery, just a stone’s throw from Toorak Road.
Hailing from Penzance in West Cornwall, Head Baker, Michael James owns the bakery with his wife Pippa. Formerly known as MoVida Bakery, where James was Head Baker, the establishment was renamed Tivoli Road Bakery after the duo took the reigns in 2013. Their long-term labour of love has since gone from strength to strength due to their commitment to baking quality products with attention and care.
Open daily for breakfast and lunch, the artisan bakery café offers a sumptuous range of treats to satisfy the fussiest of taste buds. From freshly baked loaves of sourdough, to buttery croissants and salted caramel filled doughnuts, rest assured, you’ll be more than looked after here.
With a sleek contemporary fit out, the bakery has a semi-Scandinavian feel with its use of blonde timber and minimalist décor. Tables are limited and fill quickly at peak times. Sit in the heart of the action at the communal table overlooking the kitchen and watch pastries baked fresh before your eyes, or pull up a bar seat by the window and people watch. If you’re lucky (or early), nab one of the prized outdoor tables on tree-lined Tivoli Road and enjoy a treat with your pooch. It’s welcoming and friendly, and refreshingly unpretentious.
The bakery has searched far and wide to use premium local produce, including St David Dairy, Wholegrain Milling organic flour and free-range eggs from the Grampians. On the all day menu there’s a granola teamed with fresh fruit and organic yoghurt, a nicely prepared olive toast with heirloom tomatoes, ricotta and white balsamic and my personal favourite – the lovage cured salmon on rye, remoulade and mustard leaf. Freshly cut sandwiches (available from 11am) are chock full of delicious gourmet fillings, and sell out like hotcakes. For something a little “meatier” you can’t go past a good old-fashioned sausage roll or a gourmet pie washed down with one of their iced lattes or a Small Batch espresso.
Bread is a definite focus here and is a craft, which James likens to an art. Ogle at the impressive array of expertly crafted bread stacked neatly on the wooden shelves. Each loaf is baked fresh each morning and is sold out on most days. There’s spelt, soy, linseed, multigrain and rye, just to name a few. All breads are sourdough based, made using locally milled, organic flour and baked on a stone hearth. The baking team live by the philosophy: “Great bread that’s good for you should be made using only flour, water, salt and wild yeast.” No additives, improvers or stabilisers here.
According to James, baking bread is a long process, which needs to be timed to perfection. “We only use flour, water and salt and we mill a small percentage of our flour to keep it fresh and full of nutrients and oils. We do not use added gluten or ascorbic acid. We like to keep it natural and simple with our organic flour,” he says.
Come here early to enjoy the best range of mouth watering cakes and pastries from the front cabinet, which will have sweet-tooths quivering with joy at a single glance. Doughnuts are crispy and golden, oozing with decadent fillings like salted caramel and lemon curd, while Danish pastries are laden with fresh fruit including an incredibly decadent strawberry and pistachio number. And that’s just the start of it.
After winning a number of awards, their hot cross buns have developed a cult status in Melbourne. They have a glistening golden, sticky glaze and are studded with plenty of fruit, sultanas and a subtle touch of spice and nutmeg. The texture is lovely and moist and is delicious eating as is or toasted and smothered in butter. But be prepared to come early, with all good things in Melbourne come crowds. In their first day of sale this year they sold out within the hour.
There’s so much to love about Tivoli Road Bakery. It makes me want to move to South Yarra just to be a local, but my hips would never forgive me!