Monday, 16 September 2013

Casual Dining - Passion Tree sweet inspiration

One of the things I love about living in the CBD is the almost constant state of change.  When I have free time I'll often grab SC and we will just go wandering around the city and surrounds looking for new stuff.  We get pretty excited when we see an empty or derelict space get transformed, or a new building go up, or a redevelopment of a site or....  well, you get the picture.  Sometimes things change pretty quickly and other times they seem to take a long time.

When we came back from New York, we initially have the post holiday blues, I mean New York!!  To help us shake our blues we got back into the familiar wandering around town to check out what had changed and what was new.  It's actually pretty surprising how much can change in just a month and we noticed quite a few differences.  There was one major change to little old Elizabeth Street that almost stopped us in our tracks.  Passion Tree!

We didn't go in to visit but I made a mental note of a new place in the CBD to check out and added it to my list of places to visit.  As things go after a holiday, I slipped back into my routine of work and blogging the remainder of my New York travels and put the visit to Passion Tree on the back burner.

Then out of the blue I received an email from the team at Passion Tree asking me to come in and check out their little dining spot, confident I would love their concept.  Entirely intrigued I arrange to head into Passion Tree one Friday afternoon and indulge a little.  I say indulge because Passion Tree is a dessert bar and once I stepped through the front door the indulgence started with a visual feast.  The first thing I noticed about the inside of Passion Tree is how colourful and light the decor is. There are bright decals of deserts and delights along one side and a much more stylish and subdued exposed brick down the other.

It's large inside too, much larger than you would think from the outside, it stretches back a way to a huge dining area at the back.  There are three main seating areas in Passion Tree.  First is a very casual seating area out front with colourful chairs and tiny little tables.  This area makes way as you walk down past the counter to plush seats, clearly set out for two, almost romantic in their nature.  Lastly is a very large, plush and comfortable main area that can seat many and would be alive with noise on a busy night.

The idea behind Passion Tree is to be a natural alternative to a pub in the CBD, specially built for those that want to continue on after dinner but don't want the hassle of drunken revellers.  With a plan to allow revellers to continue on after dinner and extend their evening in the city, Passion Tree aims to be the destination of choice for those with a sweet tooth.  There are a few late night dessert bars around the inner suburbs, but Passion Tree is the first real dessert bar in the city centre.

We visited the dessert bar with regular dining buddies CI and TB in tow, with the idea of sampling a few of the delicious looking goodies on offer.  Always overestimating our ability to pack away food, we started to order desserts like the proverbial 'kid in a candy store', only literally!  The menu at Passion Tree is split evenly between dessert and bakery options, so there are plenty of options available if sugar is not your thing.  We decided to mainly check out the sweeter side of the shop!

The star of the show.  Honey bread with caramel syrup, blueberry compote and sliced almonds.  This dish is incredible with the thick honey bread toasted just right under a pile of the lightest whipped cream you can imagine.  This is sweet and decadent and well worth a long detour to the CBD to check out.
The BB waffle was TB's favourite.  The sweet waffle was doused in milk chocolate then topped with caramelised banana and finished off with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate shavings.  This dessert is very sweet, but the banana helps balance out the flavours.  The well cooked waffle adds texture to the dessert and overall, its a winner
The Red Bean Bingsoo was perhaps the biggest dessert I have ever seen.  It was massive and this photo does not do it justice.  Fresh fruit that included mango, watermelon, strawberry, pineapple and kiwi fruit was bathed in a sweet milk and shaved ice concoction.  We found this the most difficult to eat without making a mess, and we did make a mess.  There was an unusual flavour to the dish from the red bean, which I am assured is an acquired taste!
I really loved the simplicity of the strawberry danish, which had incredibly flaky pastry with fresh but stewed strawberries.  It's incredible how flaky Passion Tree was able to get the pastry.
The tiramisu was a rich blend of dark caramel mousse and chocolate mousse with a blend of nuts and cherries, topped off with a chocolate macaroon.  We loved this one too but found that by dividing the cup into the two flavours, it made the dessert look pretty, but we wanted to smash the two flavours together!
The layers in the Cara Cara were so clearly defined it seemed as if there was a magic trick in putting it together.  The layers of strawberry, blueberry and blackberry are razor sharp.  The bottom of the dessert was cara cara jelly, which was a little sharp and a good contrast to the rest of the sweet dessert.
CI has always loved sausage bread and was stoked when the savoury dish arrived.  TB decided she was not interested in trying it, but CI, SC and I all had a crack.  CI clearly was in his element and loved it, I thought it was OK, a bit like a pastry hot dog from a 7Eleven.
We were having a blast checking out all of the desserts coming our way but there comes a time when you run the risk of a sugar coma.  We had a big jug of water to help us get through, but we knew when it was time to call it a day.

Passion Tree looks to fill a void in the CBD that I never really knew was there until I checked it out and now can't imagine it not being there. It's amazing to think that up until now there has not been a dedicated dessert bar in the CBD.  The concept is very much taken from the Asian style of sweets, but that seems pretty appropriate given it's location in Elizabeth Street.  

Passion Tree is well worth checking out if you feel like a dessert any night of the week, but it would hum along nicely on a Saturday night, especially given the dessert bar is open until 1am on the weekends.  By the time we left we were feeling on top of the world from the sugar buzz, but didn't really feel like dinner.  Next time I head over, I'll make it a post dinner visit.


**We were invited guests of Hannah, Josh and Chris from the Passion Tree

Ganache Brownie
Butter Bun
Delicious hot chocolate
Lots of toppings for the frozen yoghurt
The savoury bakery
Sweet Strawberry smoothy
I just love this simple piece of installation art
The large and very relaxing back dining area
Lots of cute art around the walls

Relaxed and casual front dining
We made a mess!  That Red Bean Bingsoo was simply massive!

Passion Tree on Urbanspoon


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