"Bar Sur Loup was originally supposed to be a dessert bar," laughs owner Kathy Licciardi, as she – once again – ponders the eager weekend assemblage of local coffee lovers, waffle fans and crepe connoisseurs, streaming into the au courant enfant café.
Although Kathy's initially exclusive saccharine vision has been overhauled to meet the demand of the local savoury and sweet lovers, whatever the culinary mix here, it's magnifique.
Nestled in the collarbone of the Eastern Freeway at the Bulleen Road exit, just over 10kms from the CBD, Bar Sur Loup has rapidly evolved into a French revelation in crepes, coffee, baguettes and beyond in only a few short months.
Baguettes are prepared fresh each morning, savoury crepes are flying off the hot plate as fast as they can hit it, and the signature "Egg and Bacon Crepe" – a thin buckwheat crepe with free range egg, bacon and spinach – is so sought after, several more savoury additions are currently being added to the crepe menu as I type.
On the sweet side, "The Classic Waffle" – an authentic Liege Waffle made with real Belgian Pearl Sugar, generously drizzled with melted Belgian Chocolate and fresh strawberries (the recipe of which was assisted by acclaimed Belgian Chef, Eddy Van Damme, as a dough prepared the day prior with Pearl Sugar as opposed to the batter version served widely) – tousles for table space aside the red hot Nutella Crepe.
Having lived in Le Bar Sur Loup for several years – a little village in the South of France, Cote d'Azur – Kathy and co. hankered to bring some of this idyllic culinary experience home upon their recent return.
"When we moved back to Melbourne from France we couldn't believe how many French Patisseries had opened," she reflects. "But as we sampled a few, we found they were either too expensive or lacked authenticity." Cue the crepe revolution.
But, Balwyn? Yes, Balwyn. The burgeoning suburb is outshining its top-nosh neighbours in the real estate and eatery stakes, thanks to the multitude of moneyed young parents, business minds, movers and shakers who have moved a little further down the thoroughfare for more breathing/breeding space, but still hanker for the culinary kicks they once enjoyed as single, childless hipsters in nearby Richmond or Carlton. Here they get just that, and as a couple dining there recently admitted to their omnipresent host "a mini escape to France" as well.
"Melbourne is very coffee savvy, however we lack presence of illy coffee because, understandabl,y cafés don't want to spend three times the cost on the average kilogram coffee," explains Kathy. "Illy Coffee was and always will be my favourite coffee of choice, so how can I offer anything else?"
The attention to interior detail is also a joy to savour. From the window awnings, to the leather strapped aprons, through to the sterling silver ice-cream hubs and the extremely attractive heavily Frenchified staff, Bar Sur Loup is understandably already set to expand, with the next 'perfect location' currently being sought.
Even the tunes are a fresh take on French. "We are giving Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour a break and introducing more current sounds that the French are listening to; this includes other international tunes from all over Europe and sometimes we will even stream live radio directly from Radio Monaco," says Kathy.
"Simply put, we want a fresh and modern interpretation of provincial," says Kathy. "We hope Bar Sur Loup becomes the coolest French Provincial café in Melbourne."