This is going to sound disrespectful to a bunch of cheap bakeries in Richmond but rejoice because finally there is one really worth venturing to. The Swan Street branch of Rustica Canteen is a shiny beacon in a sea of options that have stood the test of time, but have not overtly improved or raised the bar in recent years.
It is incredible what a clean and slightly fancy fitout can do to a space. Here the designers, whilst sticking closely to the latest script in design101, have done a nice job nonetheless. With the display at the front window and then pushing into the bakery, you quickly get a sense of some of the offerings. These include pastries both savoury and sweet, but flow into serious sandwiches, breakfasts and burgers, all built around the baking.
My first visit was to check out the coffee, and my double espresso was well made on a La Marzocco machine by experienced baristas using Rumble coffee. Another visit was for the hot cross bun, which while tasty, had been squashed by the toasting press, so the takeaway option might be the go.
The peppered brisket sandwich completely blew me away with the quality of the brisket, and the combination was full of flavour, making the relatively pricey $14 seem more than reasonable. From the Gruyere cheese to the house pickles, and the delicious fresh bread (light rye) either side, you have a terrific lunch. That was reason enough to buy a loaf of the house sourdough which was excellent fresh, and just as good for bread and butter pudding the next day.
It seems the presentation of the pastries and sweets is matched by the taste. The espresso tart I’ve tried was beautiful too. Rich espresso ganache housed in a crisp thin pastry with cacao nib crisp and vanilla marscapone, is precisely made and absolutely delicious.
The choice of location for the latest branch would only work if it continues to execute this well. In a small amount of space you have Messina right next door, Grill’d and Hunky Dory immediately opposite, and several other reasonably priced quality options within a stone’s throw. That puts pressure on, but to date, Rustica is standing up to the challenge and Swan Street is richer for it.