Biscuit-snap pastry shell perfection filled with silky smooth custards and decadent flavour combinations – both sweet and savoury. Pop in for a slice and we bet you won’t leave with just one.
Location: 29a Gwynne St, Melbourne, VIC 3121 & 44 Sackville St, Collingwood, VIC 3066
Having lost so many fabulous food and hospitality businesses over the course of the pandemic, it’s heart-warming to find a lockdown success story.
Gareth Whitton is a pastry chef at the top of his profession and headed up the pastry section at the now defunct Dinner by Heston restaurant.
When Melbourne’s lockdowns kept us all at home, Whitton baked a couple of tarts and sold a few slices. The next week he baked a few more tarts and sold the lot. His partner, Catherine Way, smartly spied a fledging lockdown side hustle. Soon Whitton’s tarts were in high demand and being sold as soon as he could make them – all via Instagram.
The rest- as they say – is history.
These days, Tarts Anon – as the business is called – has nearly 44,000 Instagram followers and 2 physical premises. The first in increasingly happening Cremorne and now a second one in decidedly hip Collingwood.
With this in mind, we took a trip down to the original Tarts Anon bakery in Cremorne to see if the baked goods lived up to the hype.
Another of our favourite bakers is Mile End Bagels. Read more here.
Early on a Sunday morning, Gwynne Street in Cremorne is post-zombie apocalypse quiet.
I imagine that on a Monday, when the various designers and tech start-up companies that inhabit the converted warehouses of Gwynne Street are occupied, Tarts Anon is a welcome weekend recovery sight. Though honestly, I’d be happy to see this bakery any day of the week.
A minimal diamond-shaped sign bearing the Tarts Anon logo and a couple of benches and basic tables out the front are all that indicate that something other than coding is going on behind the building’s windows.
For an eclectic wine list and beautiful food, try Lilac Wine Bar in the next street.
Inside, the space is surprisingly welcoming. Yes, we are very much in the world of the high-ceilinged, white tiled walls and uncluttered shop front so loved by hipsters across Melbourne. However, this version has a bit more soul than some. Pale wooden features take the edge of what could be an industrial coldness and green vines reaching down from on high add to the organic vibe.
Plus, the staff are openly warm and friendly.
Samples of the day’s sweet offerings are displayed within a simple glass box. They sit directly on the marble counter top, unadorned aside from a brief description and pricing information.
Behind the serving area, a heavy duty pastry rolling machine indicates that tarts are very serious business at this bakery.
Also adopting the ‘straight on the counter’ approach, Lune Crossanterie produces laminated magic.
Tarts. In all their majestic glory.
Whatever tart you order, the pastry case is the same. After all, why tamper with perfection, right? And perfection it is. Sturdy as a biscuit, but oh so delicious and crumbly when bitten into.
When we visited, the famous Caramel and Chocolate Tart and their Signature Pear Tart weren’t on the slab.
However, our disappointment was brief, as instead there were 6 sweet offerings and an unexpected 2 savoury options to choose from.
Firstly, I have to confess, I was sorely tempted by the sheer vibrant beauty of the Cheese & Bacon ($9.5). If ever the name of a tart has undersold what it’s selling, this has to be it. Bright green – perfectly snipped – chives on top of a lush, sunshine yellow gruyere custard. Apparently, the layer below added more savoury notes plus a bite of texture in the form of a bacon, leek and financier. Oh wow!
Next to it sat a Mushroom & Parmesan ($9.5) slice. This time, the topping looked like the silkiest of mushroom pates, cloaked in a parmesan snow. Again, I almost weakened and went the savoury route. But I held firm.
Sadly, I’d already had breakfast, and I was here for the sweet stuff. But what to try?
If you want a box of amazingly decadent donuts, see our review of Levain Doughnuts.
I almost plumped for the Chocolate and Chestnut ($9.5). Similarly, the Mulled Wine Pear ($9.5) was hard to resist. That said, I ended up going with the remaining 4 choices.
The Passionfruit & Strawberry Pavlova ($9.5) looked like a lemon meringue pie, but was so much better. The crisp, firm pastry perfect against the tangy jam, smooth set custard and a cloud of Italian meringue.
If you dream of performing your own baking magic, a Ninja Food Processor is a great place to start your journey.
In contrast, the Chocolate, Orange & Whiskied Pecan was a whole different world of textures. Seriously rich chocolate with a hint of orange enhanced by the warmth of whisky. It was gooey, crunchy and luscious all at once.
As Christmas is just around the corner as I write this, Tarts Anon has got into the festive spirit with an Eggnog & Fruit Mince Tart ($9.5). And whilst I’m not generally a huge fan of sweet, eggy things, it seemed rude to not give it a go.
Well, I’m very glad I did. The lushest of creamy custards, perfumed with a hint of brandy, on a spice-rich layer of fruit mince. Divine.
Finally, I succumbed to the many charms of the Gingerbread and Sour Cherry Tart ($9.5). The subtle ginger spicing worked brilliantly against the sharp kick of the cherry.
And of course, you can always go the whole hog and purchase an entire tart. Check the website for current prices and flavours.
This brilliant innovation deserves a separate mention.
THE BRIEFCASE is basically a Tarts Anon taster box. This inspired creation is a simple box containing 5 slices of tart. Which slices? Well, it changes with the monthly rotation of bakes.
If you wish to specify which wedges of tart go in your particular briefcase, you’ll have to pop in to the premises and choose on site.
Otherwise, take a gamble and go with whatever baked wonder is currently coming out of the ovens. Again, you can check the website for info on the flavours available month by month.
For beautiful dishes, showcasing the best of Gippsland, Victoria, see our review of Farmer’s Daughters
Coffee. Pretty much.
Well, this is a Melbourne bakery, after all.
Do you have a mate of family member that is a nightmare to buy presents for? Well, let us help you with our Gift Ideas. Click here for more.
Yes, there is a food- loving God! Tarts Anon are now delivering their freshly-baked masterpieces.
However, their delivery service covers a different assortment of suburbs every week.
Check out when they’ll be rotating through your neighbourhood on their Instagram account.
Tarts Anon like to keep things fresh. As a result, they offer a new menu of delicacies each month.
For December, the sweet tarts include:
Dessert Masters Black Forest Tart/Eggnog and Fruit Mince Tart, Trifle Tart, Cherry and Gingerbread Tart, The Candy Cane Tart.
Meanwhile, for more savoury palettes, there’s:
The Christmas Leftovers Tart/ Mushroom & Parmesan
The Tarts Anon website claims, ‘We do one thing well’.
The reality is that they don’t just do it well. Tarts Anon team are absolute masters of their craft.
Whatever way you lean – savoury or sweet – these are truly memorable and utterly irresistible pastry creations.
If you can find an excuse to get to either Cremorne or Collingwood, make sure you drop in for a slice – or 4.
Update – Gareth Whitton Wins Dessert Masters 2023
If you watched the Masterchef spin-off, Dessert Masters, you’ll know that the extremely talented Gareth Whitton of Tarts Anon is the competition’s first winner.
Congratualtions to Gareth!