Tearing into the crunchy, deep caramel crust of Wild Life Bakery's sourdough feels like holy communion with carbs. The intense, chewy crumb in slices swabbed with miso butter or dipped into harissa-heavy shakshouka is why locals cram this bakery for breakfast.
They also leave with grand, hunking baguettes and sandwiches you hope will never end for lunch. Toasties arrive thick as a forehead and big as a face, yet achieve the all-important mission of properly melting the abundance of sweet and nutty Comté inside couched around sticky, worcestershire-rich onion. Meanwhile, old school salad sambos achieve new crush status when folded into chewy sourdough baguettes, lifted with the zip of pickled carrot and tempered with soft avo and roast beetroot.
We’re even moved by the fruit bread. Plump gems of raisin, apricot and whole dates glisten in the cross section and quenelles of smooth mascarpone and spoonable lemon curd lift this far above its lowly status on the café menu pecking order. Only the photogenic brown rice congee, topped with a topaz-yolked soy egg, kale furikake and pickled mushrooms falls short of ecstasy. It feels good to eat, but lacks that deep, stock flavour. Perhaps though, its greatest crime may simply lie in being in the company of greater things.
It’s best to take your time here – fresh or toasted, these malty crusts are deafeningly crunchy, with a crumb so elastic that any haste will imperil palates and jaws. Alternate bites with sips of ace Market Lane coffee, Mörk hot chocolate, sticky chai, or even cans of La Sirène Saison. Few manage to pay without also pillaging the front counter, orderly laden with whole loaves, croissants and rustic cakes like rosella wheat carrot or khorasan fruit sponge.
This wide, former mechanic’s warehouse in Brunswick East is all brushed cement and thin-silhouetted furniture, warmed by the moon-like glow of pendant globes. Two massive circular windows offer the room an aquarium-like view into the kitchen, but the most direct communion between bread baker and breaker happens on the plate at this temple to sourdough.