"HOW much?!" I said when the bill was rung up.
That morning, our group had ordered: one poppyseed bagel with cream cheese (very good, with a generous spread of Philadelphia cheese); one soft and creamy egg and bacon quiche (good pastry); one ham and cheese bagel (described as "good ham", "yummy" and "just normal" by its eater); two fried eggs and an enormous serving of so-so bacon (the yolk cooked harder than beyond over-easy); two lattes (if you want hearts and fern fronds in the milk, you're in the wrong place); and, to take away from the cabinet stocked with Polish sweets, half a cake, a doughnut and a length of babka.
"How much?!" A rip-snortingly cheap $32! Clearly, Rye Crust Bakery is outstanding value.
Run by Hanna and Andrew Lipiszko, theirs is a cute story. They met when they were both 13, living in Germany and going to the same school. A year later, Andrew moved to Australia and later still they exchanged Christmas cards. At 21, Hanna came for a holiday to visit and they were engaged three weeks later.
Their bakery is a welcoming, lo-fi spot that caters to the area's large eastern European population. Polish women leave laden with bags of family-sized babka and dense, fruity cakes. Solo diners pop in for a chinwag with Andrew, the conversation open to all present. Will Australia become a republic? Do you think it will rain today? Others collect the day's bread - a loaf of heavy borodinsky in the Russian style, a traditional Polish rye, a bag of boiled bagels, or dough knotted into a German pretzel.
Handmade cakes are sold by the kilogram and sweets are a focus. A log of babka is laced with marzipan and rolled with sultanas and poppyseed, with a light smearing of lemon icing that crumbles when you bite into it - very satisfying.
There are two types of plum cake - one dense and sweet and sunken in the middle with big splodges of purple fruit, its texture is super-cakey and heartily stodgy. Big round doughnuts - iced or icing sugar-dusted - come with a squirt of sweet-tart plum marmalade inside. And there are quark danishes made with a brioche-style dough that Andrew describes as "cheesecake in a bun" - these sell out fast.
Andrew worked at Glicks for 15 years and also at a bakery in Bialystok, on the Polish border with Belarus. The century-old sourdough starter comes from there, along with some of the traditional recipes. Other recipes have been handed down through their families.
The fitout is what it is: a red banquette near the entrance ramp, sunflowers in a vase, shelves with wood panelling. There's certainly no architectural designer-yah and that's just fine. It all suits the relaxed, low-key vibe with owners who clearly love what they do.
Where 101 Foster Street, Dandenong, 9706 9194
Prices Breads, $3.80-$5.95; savouries, $3.20-$5.95; cakes and pastries, $2-$5.95
Cards MC V Eftpos
Open Mon, 7am-3pm; Tues, 7am-4pm; Wed-Fri, 7am-5pm; Sat, 7am-1pm
- 9706 9194
- Prices - Breads, $3.80-$5.95; savouries, $3.20-$5.95; cakes and pastries, $2-$5.95
- Features - Licensed
- Cards accepted - Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Mon, 7am-3pm; Tues, 7am-4pm; Wed-Fri, 7am-5pm; Sat, 7am-1pm
- Author - Nina Rousseau