At the uncool end of Dominion Rd, opposite a Chinese restaurant that seems to specialise in health-promoting offal dishes (Ox penis stew: good for pain in the loin!) is a recent addition to the area that is very, very well worth a visit. La Voie Francaise is the first sole venture of baker Tetsuya Namekawa, who – according to reports, as the guy himself seems very hard to hunt down (but I’m working on it) – has worked alongside master baker Pierre Herme, and as pastry chef in Auckland kitchens Kermadec and Bracu. When I stumbled upon the bakery a few weeks back and inquired about who was behind the delights on offer there, the nice lady at the counter mentioned Tetsuya’s name and I remembered interviewing Peter Thornley, at Bracu a good few years ago, and him raving about his genius Japanese pastry chef – same guy.
I’ve since returned to La Voie Francaise quite a few times, even on days when it’s not open (Monday and Tuesday, I now know), and everything I’ve taken away from there has impressed me – though I can’t vouch for the coffee yet as I haven’t tried it. The baguettes, I think, could be th best in Auckland. The crust is the real deal – the kind that can cause a serious mouth injury if you’re not paying enough attention in the frenzy of your greed. The first time I visited Paris, I remember hearing the woeful tale of a fellow backpacker who had, it was told, literally split her tongue open on a native baguette. A lesson to us all, though it’s never much of a risk with the usual limp baguettes you buy here. But yes, Tetsuya’s could do a bit of damage. And they have that chewy interior, full of elongated holes, the perfect wee pockets for softened butter or tangy goat’s cheese. And like a good baguette should be, they’re best eaten the same day they’re made – tomorrow you can buy another one!
The caramel eclairs, the brioches (raisin or orange peel), various pastry-cream filled creations, simple breakfast baps of poached egg and bacon, buttery croissants, pans au chocolats – none has passed my lips without an exclamation of satisfaction. The guy can bake.
Another quite lovely thing about La Voir Francaise is its incredibly reasonable prices. A baguette will set you back a mere $2.50. A plain croissant just $1.50. A bargain in any language. Go there now – but not on a Monday or Tuesday, or you’ll feel sad for the rest of the day.
La Voie Francasie, Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill – can’t find the address online anywhere, and they don’t have any business cards – so details to follow!