When a new café pops up on the Gold Coast dining scene there’s a buzz of excitement, especially when it’s from a reputable owner, such as Chloe Watts, former owner of Paddock Bakery.
Opening the doors of Tarte Bakery & Café in August 2020, she has every reason to be proud of her masterpiece.
In a venue formerly occupied by longstanding Italian restaurant Vecchia Roma, Watts has built a Parisian café referencing the great continental bakeries she visited in her travels.
The allure begins on the street. From the leafy Burleigh corner, we gaze at the gilded name on the doors and the service window where we can step up to order takeaway coffee. But then we step inside.
After months and years of planning, sourcing design features, creating those all-important details and testing recipes, the café boasts beautiful detailing: antique counter tops and door handles, vintage train luggage racks, imported vintage light shades, hand laid tiles and duck blue accents and tableware. The floor is the pièce de resistance, with 5,000 hexagonal white tiles being chipped out by Chloe and her dad and a black tile being painstakingly hand laid in its place.
All the while, Chloe Watts says, she kept in mind that she wanted Tarte to ‘be real and welcoming’, just like the European cafés that inspired her. Yes, it is that too. Lovingly and carefully styled, Tarte brings a glimpse of continental taste and class to the Gold Coast all the while making us feel welcome and alive.
If the venue is a feast for the eyes, then the same can be said for the food.
Serving an all-day breakfast of SingleO coffee and internationally inspired delights, many dishes have gained added complexity due to Trans-Atlantic (or Pacific) twists. Eggs are scrambled with miso and togorashi, or served Turkish style with whipped Greek yoghurt and Turkish spiced butter on sourdough, toast comes as a Tartine (the lavish French version of the open-faced sandwich seen throughout Northern Europe and Scandanavia), French toast is made from the indulgent Babka, a sweet cinnamon and later chocolate-laced braided bread which originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Lithuania. Even the toastie has a Cuban twist with its five-cheese, truffle, triple smoked ham and mustard filling served on sourdough.
Each savoury dish uses the best local produce as well, making it a part of us. Our Spring Tartine, for example, is a garden of green with avocado, shaved zucchini, asparagus, edamame, garden peas, watermelon radish and lemon zest piled high onto a piece of sourdough.
Bagels, a humble food brought to the US by Polish immigrants in the late 19th century, come to us following their American makeover. The process of being boiled then baked helps bagels stay fresh longer which, for poor New York Jewish workers at the time, was very important. The ‘everything’ bagel was invented sometime around 1980, when New Yorker David Gussin added poppy seeds to sesame seeds, salt and onion in the one bagel. It’s this ‘Everything’ bagel Chloe uses in Tarte, giving us four renditions: Bullseye Bang, Bullseye Benny, Salmon (AKA lox and cream cheese) and Tomato.
And if you thought the savoury selection had a point of difference, the selection of sweet treats and patisserie will amaze even more. Gleaning her prizes from throughout Europe, Chloe presents handmade delights in the pastry window. From the display, you’ll be sure to find new favourites different to anything else on the coast:
Crullers – ring-shaped French doughnuts made from pâte à choux (think éclair dough) that’s fried and then dipped in a sweet glaze.
Kouign-amann – the Breton butter cake that is one of the most difficult pastries in the world to make, its folded layers of butter, pastry and sugar a legendary labor of love.
Canelé – a ‘fluted’ cake that originated in the convents of Bordeaux in Southern France (the nuns using the egg yolks left over from winemaking to create cakes to give to poor children).
Cannoli – a Sicilian fried pastry dough filled with whipped ricotta and chocolate chips.
And who could leave out the Instaworthy Cookie Cups where warm vanilla bean milk is poured into a decadent chocolate chip cookie.
Chocolate & Praline Tarte. Not strictly from any single origin, this tarte alone is worth a visit, with its rich dark chocolate ganache, praline, almond and chocolate dentelle and hazelnuts in a handmade cocoa sablée tart shell, darkly delicious and completely vegan.
“The cafe you are standing in is a culmination of my incredible experiences and my favourite dishes I have eaten overseas,” Chloe tells us.
Lovingly brought to us from Paris to New York and San Francisco, each dish has a history rich enough to lead us on our own explorations, even if for now they are only virtual. A meal in Tarte Bakery & Café is a great journey, indeed!
Tarte Bakery & Cafe, 2 West St, Burleigh Heads
Open: 6:30am to 3pm daily (Breakfast until 2pm; Open 6am to 3pm in summer.)