ZIMT PATISSERIE BAKERY CAFE
The puff pastry here is a work of art, ethereal and buttery, even better than at the venerable Fleischer Continental Cakes where owner Michael Leidler cut his teeth. A big, sleek and bustling establishment in the eastern suburbs, Zimt does French and Austrian with a few local trends: macarons, cupcakes and gluten-free cakes sit alongside sachertorte, croissants, fruit tarts and opera slice, packed like jewels into the seductive display cases. Choose from filled rolls and an array of savoury pastries and tarts, including many vego combinations.
171 Union Road, Surrey Hills, 9890 2382, zimt.com.au
TIVOLI ROAD BAKERY
The small but carefully curated menu includes breakfast pastries and satisfyingly fat sandwiches ($9.50) for lunch, with free-range chicken or pulled pork, brioche rolls with smoked salmon, classy pies and more. Pick an exotic doughnut ($3.50) - maybe peanut butter and jelly, rhubarb or salted caramel - or a tart filled with pert fruit. There's espresso or cold-drip coffee. Run by pastry chef Michael James and his wife Pippa, it's a welcome ray of light-filled, blond-wood glamour.
3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra, 9041 4345, tivoliroad.com.au
This smart and friendly neighbourhood cafe with good coffee and interesting American-tinged treats is clearly winning the west's heart. The lamington may not look like much but is a must-scoff. Known for its custard doughnuts, brownies and milkshakes with flavours such as apple pie, Candied is run by Toula Ploumidis and Orlando Artavilla, who started Brunswick's Sugardough. Everything is organic.
81A Hudsons Road, Spotswood, 9391 1335, candiedbakery.com.au
BRIOCHE BY PHILIP
At Philip Chiang's Brioche, the namesake buttery, slightly sweet yeasted dough might be topped with raspberry and cream cheese or studded with chocolate. Savoury offerings include croissant with cheese and onion. Try a sugar bun or take home a loaf infused with orange oil. Five Senses coffee is cheerfully and promptly served.
99 Queen Street, city, 523 696. 114 Russell Street, city; bakery-only at 208 Commercial Road, Prahran, 9525 1966. briochebyphilip.com.au
Exacting standards have won this grumpy grande dame a loyal following. For 21 years Babka has served dumplings and borscht alongside french toast, eggs, sandwiches, excellent coffee - and wine. They make serious rye bread, with caraway and a proper crust; try it with smoked salmon. The apricot-prune cake is heavenly and the shoofly buns, full of orange zest and currants, served with little squares of chilled, unsalted butter, are one of Melbourne's great culinary pleasures.
358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 0091