I could not believe my eyes. Stepping into a bright, spacious dimension (it seemed to me like the first part of a contemporary hall), I was immersed by the lightness of it all, then the colours of the displays and finally by the warmth of the set up. Call it Scandinavian in feel and design, name it contemporary - I embraced it like a kid in a sophisticated and yet easy feeling at home atmosphere. This is the Textbook.
Located at a busy part of Botany Road, Textbook is just off the street and below some apartments.
|Inside the chicken and mushroom pie.|
There are no issues with seating - there are canteen styled tables for talking to others, there is the garden setting outside and there are smaller coffee atmosphere chairs.
When you look out to the open bakery and preparation space, perhaps it strikes you about the expansive flatness of that section. To me, this perspective did bring out the delicateness and uniqueness of each baked item so much better - the interim Alice in Wonderland like colours of the cheesecakes and desserts came out better to the eye of the passing, curious customer. The brown contours of loaves and croissants contrasted with the white surface. Lighting levels added to the experience.
Nevertheless there is a sophistication beyond the so called Wonderland colours. Even the pastel colours of my Asian themed dessert of mango, Kaffir lime and coconut infused white choc already suggested a finesse and attention to detail before I even had a small spoonful bite of this. I was positively struck by the roundness of this creation, like a quality pottery mix ready to be shaped further and still held by two miniature side holders, all edible.
The vibes are contemporary Australian, but with a cosmopolitan freshness that embraces so many relevant ingredients that combine into a harmonious whole. And refreshingly, the desserts from Textbook are not heavy, but instead just provide a high level of satisfaction to the palate.
Some of the display items are obvious visual pick me ups, like the blue lined cheesecake that pleasure you more like a China Ming vase, rather than something to be eaten and forgotten with.
The granularity of the Speculaas (Dutch windmill cookie) crumble surrounding the main portion of the Apple Crumble must be looked closely to be believed.
The so realistic Granny Smith colour of the cheesecake uplifted expectations, which was more than fulfilled.
Apple custard mousse and a warm blonde Dulcey Chocolate Bavarois top the act. Dulcey's notes are buttery and toasty which gradually progress to a flavour of shortbread with a pinch of salt - heavenly.
I would want to try the Caramelised Pear and Roasted Walnut dessert on a next visit. Chocolate Sable Breton is presented with the caramelised pear chunks and a white chocolate Bavarois - and then coated with a wonderful idea of roasted walnut crumble. Sable refers to a French short bread cookie.
|Saint-Honore, graced with Chantilly cream and dazzling with a raspberry red finish.|
An engaging and enthusiastic guy greeted me at the counter and commenced the journey of knowing Textbook better. There are so many things to begin with. I asked him which is a top selling favourite and he readily recommended one. He reminded me to consider taking a whole cake back. The beef pies had finished by mid day but he got the last chicken one for me. He made the coffee, he made the day!
The windows at Textbook are broad and welcoming, one side over looking an inner courtyard and the other to Botany Road.
If anything else to add, we enjoyed looking at the buzz and energy of the staff working hard with flour, dough and added steps. Go early first thing after sunrise and you can dwell in the aromas of baking bread.
The Marie Antoinette blend of coffee is more smooth and mellow than just strong.
There are generous sized sandwiches, sourdough slices, savoury beef pies......especially relevant for a cool winter's morning. You can ask for a freshly prepared concoction or pick up something just waiting for you. There are special things the crew makes apart from the usual menu, like Bruschetta, Hot Cross buns for Easter and other seemingly decadent things to be thankful for....
John Ralley is the Patissier and Steve Anderson is the Pastry Chef behind Textbook.
I was curious why a patisserie with such a wonderful set up - and a range of creative baked outcomes - has such a simple name - Textbook. On one hand, it is effectively simple to recall the name of this magical discovery. On the other, the delights one finds here, fresh from the oven, can be said to be far from my preconceptions of a straight line and rigid " textbook approach"- it can be easily seen and tasted that the creations on display are literally far from this meaning of the textbook approach.
The shapes, patterns and curves of the cheesecakes, breads, pies, desserts and other items are at the same time seemingly both random and precise.
The positioning of a garnish, or decorative item on the smooth surface of the primary component of an offering, is art like and intended. For example, this can be observed in the graceful ballerina like curve of a feather like topping, the geometric lines on the surface of a well baked dough and in the apparent confusion of yummy baked gravy inside a pie.
On balance, I finally got it - it is the preciseness of their preparation technique and presentation that got John and Steve to utilise the phrase "Textbook"!
My impressions of the Textbook Boulangerie-Patisserie:
Ambiance: 4 out of 5
Customer Engagement: 4 out of 5
Culinary Delight: 4 out of 5
X Factor: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Recommended menu choices:
Brioche buns, fluffy and inviting with citrus and raisins.
Shakshuka baked eggs.
Caramelised pear and roasted walnut dessert.
Chicken and mushroom pie.
Almond or chocolate croissants.
Kaffir lime, mango and coconut flavoured white chocolate dessert
Cruffins that regularly change flavours
|Kaffir lime, mango and coconut flavoured white chocolate dessert.|
The Textbook Boulangerrie Patisserie is located at 274 Botany Road, Alexandria NSW.
Opening hours are from 7am till sold out every day (except closed on Mondays)
Contact +61 2 9699 6196