Zumbo – Dessert Train
So my first introduction to Adriano Zumbo was not a pleasant one. I didn’t have the opportunity to fawn over his masterpieces on Master Chef from the comfort of my living room, but I did have the opportunity to spend 40 minutes queuing outside his hole-in-the-wall Balmain store. The pastries were amazing, but the mild heat stroke and sore feet took the shine off the experience.
Balmain is a little too far from the city for a quick dash after work, but luckily Adriano Zumbo has opened an outpost at The Star (the artist formerly known as Star City). The Star is a brief 5-minute walk from Darling Harbour, but if you haven’t been before you’ll definitely want to look it up on Google Maps, as the signage is terrible. Anyway, back to Zumbo’s; there’s a takeaway shop, where you can pick up delicious tubes of macarons, but more importantly there is a dessert train. Just like a sushi train (which by the way are surprisingly popular in Sydney), you sit down and take whatever takes your fancy off the train. And after extensive testing of the dessert train, my upper limit at Zumbo’s is two dishes, because afterwards you will be comatose with the amount of sugar you’ve ingested.
I really love the concept, and at first I really enjoyed the Alice and Wonderland decor, but after a couple of visits it’s just beginning to look a little tired. Like they’ve got this elaborate dessert train, but it’s very rarely even half full. Same goes with the emergency cabinets, look great, but each one holds but a morsel of Zumbo glory. They’ve obviously had all these grand plans that they executed initially, but now they’ve got a bit looser in their day-to-day execution, which saddens me a little.
When we were in Sydney Gerard and I visited his favourite after work dessert place – the Zumbo dessert/sushi train. I thought the idea was amazing. Is it just me or are sushi trains a whole lot bigger in Sydney than Melbourne? Last time we were there I noticed 3 of them when walking past restaurants, 3! I have no idea where I could find even one in Melbourne. The Zumbo dessert version was almost overwhelmingly colourful, but as Gerard mentioned was looking pretty bare (to be fair, maybe that’s because we were there at around 5pm on a Saturday, possibly not a peak dessert time).
I really enjoyed the experience for the novelty, my only real issue is that a lot of the dishes on the train weren’t labelled, so I had a really hard time figuring out what most of them were. While I enjoyed it and think it is worth experiencing once, I’m not sure that I would make the hike again. I don’t care what Gerard says about it being a 5 minute walk from Darling Harbour, if you’re walking that distance in 5 minutes you are some sort of super-human fast walking machine who probably shouldn’t be eating plates of macarons.
Pricing is by colour coded plates. Black plates (including the selections of 4 mystery macarons) are $10.50, pink plates $9.50 and white plates $8.50.
Gerard had the chocolate coffee brulee, serious chocolate overload. This involved a chocolate coffee brulee, chocolate cake and a milk & espresso emulsion. Way too rich for me, but Gerard managed it (and another dish!).
I had the Violet Crunchie which had honeycomb foam, something violet and moussey, chocolate and pieces of honeycomb. It was pretty delicious. I’m not normally a huge foam fan, but put it in a dessert and I’m on board.
Gerard also had the Chocolate Namelaka which was made up of chocolate mud cake, chocolate namelaka (a creamy chocolate concoction), salted caramel and more chocolate. It was delicious. This was probably the highlight of the train.
The Dessert train is a great concept, and for us Melbournians craving the Zumbo blessing, it’s a perfect way to sample the magic without having to travel into the wilds of Sydney.