We have felt that Brisbane has been somewhat behind Melbourne in in pastry options for a while. In the setting of the COVID restrictions, a host of new bakeries emerged. Superthing in West End has been one of the popular pastry-slingers.
Designed with lots of customer photo-taking in mind, it is certainly an Instagram-friendly space. It is done up in a blush pink hue, with pops of greenery scattered through the space. You come to the blocky stone service counter soon after you enter, and anyone who has been to Lune will immediately see the similarities in how the pastries are displayed. There is a lineup of one sample of each available pastry on the countertop, with a label to indicate which it is in front of it. This lets customers see what is still in stock, and potentially tempts them to buy more once they see what they can get.
Behind the counter is a shiny backlit sign that announces that this is, of course, Superthing. Spherical pendant lights hang over the service counter and through other sections of the eatery, reminiscent of full moons. While most people are there for the pastries, they do also have a menu of other non-pastry items, like pasta, sandwiches, and soup, as they are also a cafe.
There is seating available, although due to COVID restrictions, this was very limited. There was also a glass-fronted kitchen area in which, like at Lune, you could watch the pastry-making happen. This was not running on any of the occasions we visited though.
From the selections available, we had the plain croissant (one must benchmark), a fruit danish, an Earl Grey cruffin, and monkey bread (not a pastry, but it looked interesting). There were filled croissants available, but those on the counter just didn’t look that appealing. For those who might be interested, they had options like almond, tiramisu, and matcha white chocolate. Although we are often tempted by matcha things, we had just obtained a matcha croissant from Reno Fine Patisserie, and unfortunately, Superthing’s just didn’t look up to it (see the earlier photo of the counter lineup).
What we found immediately discernible was that the croissants all sat flatter than those from the other bakeries we tried. They were also softer, rather than having that crisp flakiness. Because of that, we wound up reheating most of the pastries in the oven before we ate them, to get them crispier.
The plain croissant probably serves as the best baseline measure to compare croissant bakeries on, as once you add flavoured fillings and toppings, it adds too many variables, and one really should get the basics right first. In this case, Superthing’s plain croissant was certainly better after being heated in the oven. That made it crisp and flaky, in a way that it wasn’t when initially bought. Despite its lack of height, it did have air pockets inside. However, these were uneven, with a couple of significantly large ones, then smaller ones lining that.
We also bought a fruit danish. They had a couple of options that day, either a pear danish, or a cherry and custard one. The pear danish looked like it had about half a poached pear on it, but unsliced. The cherry and custard danish, in comparison, appeared to have the fruit more evenly distributed. We picked the latter, also because one of us has an affinity for cherries. This too was had after a second baking in the oven to crisp up the pastry. This pastry actually seemed more buttery than the plain croissant pastry, and was slightly salted. It had a particularly good crunch at the edges, with a fine crisp shatter. The custard was lightly sweet, smooth, and set, rather than sloppy, so that it didn’t drip out while you were eating. The cherries were soft and a little tart, but not too sharp. Had together with the custard, it was a good balance of flavours.
We aren’t usually fans of cruffins, but we were hungry when ordering, so decided to take a punt, even though the display cruffin was a bit underwhelming (loose twists and somewhat malformed). The flavour available that day was Earl Grey. Fortunately, the cruffin packed for us was better made, the croissant pastry more tightly folded into the typical muffin-like shape one expects cruffins to come in. This, like the other pastries, was eaten after another pass in the oven. This made the outside crisp. On the inside, it had a chewy pull. The filling was smooth and creamy, with no real sweetness. The Earl Grey flavour was barely perceptible, with only a faint bergamot note. If we hadn’t known that it was supposed to be Earl Grey, we would not have guessed it. That filling served perhaps as a contrasting texture to the croissant pastry, but didn’t add much else.
Hunger was probably also the driver for us getting the Monkey bread, a non croissant-based offering in the Superthing lineup. It had herb and cheddar savoury flavours, set off by sweetness from pieces of sundried tomato. It was a dense bread, rather than a pastry (as suggested in the name). It was caramelised on the outside, so had a bit of crunch to contrast against the chew of the bread dough. It was alright, but like what you would find in your neighbourhood bakery rather than a special something you would seek out at a croissanterie.
Overall, Superthing has photogenic design elements going for it, but their pastries aren’t exactly the best we’ve had. We did revisit them, in the hopes that our eating experience was a fluke, but found it to be much the same. Their pastries were underdone and needed to be baked again to get that properly crisp croissant texture, rather than being able to be eaten just as they were. Although Superthing has taken elements of the Lune look, their croissants aren’t nearly on par. Perhaps they will refine them with more time..
Price point: Plain croissant $5. Filled croissants, cruffins, and danishes $6.50 to $7.50.
Address: 215 Montague Rd, West End
Phone: 07 3844 2013