Balaclava is home to Australia’s largest Orthodox Jewish community. And the inner southeast enclave’s main shopping strip, Carlisle Street, still reflects the culinary heritage of the Holocaust survivors who founded it.
Though it’s now an eclectic, multicultural street, where Malaysian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Middle Eastern vendors vie for the business of the hungry alongside fish and chips, burgers and breakfast joints, it’s the European traditions of sweet treats that make Balaclava a gourmet destination.
Local resident Julietta Jameson lists her five favourite places for a sugar hit.
175 Carlisle St, Balaclava, (03) 9531 3198
If there’s a better croissant in Melbourne than Dana’s, I am yet to find it. Flaky, buttery, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside – perfection. At this family-owned, sun-filled patisserie, the pastry trays empty early, as locals in the know snap up the freshly baked artisan offerings. Further down the counter, exquisite mille feuille, mini lemon meringue pies and juicy, custard-filled berry tarts tempt alongside gorgeous whole cheesecakes, tiramisu and flourless chocolate cakes to take home and share.
192 Carlisle St, Balaclava, (03) 9042 1889
Featuring Polish cooking with a touch of mod Oz (the brunch classics), it’s the cake department where Truffles excels. The Chapel Street corner patisserie specialises in creating birthday, wedding and other occasion cakes to order, with no concept, it seems, too far-fetched. If it’s croquembouche you seek, look no further.
There’s plenty to choose from for a casual coffee break, too, from fluffy, filled Polish doughnuts to a tangy lemon slice.
287 Carlisle St, Balaclava, (03) 9530 3366
Just across the street from the Balaclava branch of Melbourne’s temple of bagels, Glick’s, Lichtenstein’s Bakehouse was the first kosher bakery in Australia to create gluten-free products. That success story (the bread is sold into Coles) includes a flourless chocolate cake but the wheat-tolerant get to revel in beautiful large cakes and tarts as well as a delicious range of smaller bites – doughnuts, danishes and buns.
260 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, (03) 9534 6604
It may look very much the coffee roasting business it is from the street, but inside it’s part-roastery, part-Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Operational since 1969, this fabulous, friendly, family business sells some of the best beans in Melbourne, as well as an incredible array of European chocolates and sweets. Mozart balls from Austria, Daim bars from Sweden, fine Belgian chocolate bars, artisan fudge and little chocolate novelties wrapped as airplanes, beetles, umbrellas, coins and watches share burgeoning shelves with Polish jams, glace fruits and The Coffee Company’s own range of packaged sweets such as chocolate-covered nuts, raspberry lollies and bullets.
5. Haymisha Bakery
320 Carlisle St, Balaclava, (03) 9527 7116
Open since the late 1970s when it was established the son of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, Haymisha specialises in kosher cakes and cookies.
You’ll also find honey cakes, vanilla slices, doughnuts, cup cakes, scrolls, cheesecakes, muffins, and a famous chocolate-covered horseshoe biscuit originally created by Zalmy Weisz, the founder of this classic. The largely Orthodox clientele of Haymisha is testament to its authenticity.