Its only the third week of 2015 and already it looks like its going to be another great year filled with plenty of new places opening up and awesome new experiences to go with it, with Mr Frugii’s latest project, the Frugii Dessert Laboratory leading the way.
The Frugii Dessert Laboratory has opened up in the new Ori Building on Lonsdale Street, Braddon. This new apartment will be home to many of the stores that previously lived in the Lonsdale Street Traders building which is being knocked down to make way for new apartments. Though with that said, the most exciting part of the Ori Building, at least for me is the opening of a permanent location where you can get Mr Frugii’s ice cream whenever you crave it. Well, as long as its between 12PM to 11PM from Wednesday to Sunday, you know, can’t always have everything.
I absolutely love Mr Frugii’s ice cream, I remember when I use to wake up early on Saturday or Sundays just to head down to either the Bus Depot Market or the EPIC Capital Regional Market to get my hand on this awesomeness. Now I can just walk down the street, and better yet, I don’t have to wait until the weekends to get my ice cream fix! You have no idea how much the opening of this place changes how I will live my life.
Mr Frugii’s Frugii Dessert Laboratory isn’t just bringing ice cream to the hipster precinct of Canberra, it also offers sweet treats and cakes, as well as some amazing coffee! I personally didn’t try any coffee, but the person having it while we were at the store was absolutely amazed by how good it was.
I’m probably not doing justice to how excited I am about this, I’ve complained a million times about the fact that Canberra doesn’t really have any dessert places outside of Koko Black, Meet Fresh and Dessert Castle. Outside of these places, there isn’t really any other non alcohol place to hang out at night and some nights, I just want to chill out and chat with some friends over ice cream or cake. In fact, that’s probably my preference almost every night. It’s hard to actually have a conversation at a club or pub so Mr Frugii has definitely filled a gaping hole in Canberra’s night life for me.
On Wednesday night after work, I decided to drop by the Frugii Dessert Laboratory for its soft opening. It was about 6.30PM by the time we got there and we were greeted by the friendly smiles of both Mr and Mrs Frugii. The store was simple, not overly large but had a mix of large and small tables. The Ori Building was completely deserted with most stores still empty or under construction. As we walked in we glanced at the cakes cabinet and noticed that it was quite empty, in the six hours that the Frugii Dessert Laboratory was open, it was absolutely overwhelmed with Canberrans who absolutely love the work of the amazing Mr Frugii. They had sold out of all the cakes that I had wanted to try, so I opted for the two remaining cake flavours and two ice creams as well.
Currently, the Frugii Dessert Laboratory is offering a range of cakes as well as eight ice cream flavours including two sorbets, blood orange and lemon and lime and six standard gelatos including vanilla, dark chocolate, pistachio, lemon myrtle, cookies and cream and butter caramel. There is also a very new, shiny and sparkling coffee machine that I alluded to earlier. I’m pretty excited to see butter caramel on Frugii’s current menu, it’s probably one of my favourite flavours. I’m sure in the near future once the store offically opens, we’ll get to start seeing some of Mr Frugii’s other awesome and creative flavours like beer, truffle, rice pudding and etc. Very exciting times ahead!
The only minor down point for me was the fact that the cakes were just standard pastry cakes and not ice cream cakes. I thought this would be like Canberra’s Messina but alas it was not to be. Nevertheless, the cakes at the Frugii Dessert Laboratory were still very delicious and this will now definitely help subdue all my Flute Bakery cravings especially if I haven’t had a day off work in awhile. So still fantastic stuff!!
Alrightie, probably enough chit chat for now, food time!
First up, the White chocolate and raspberry cake ($6). This cake along with the chocolate cake below were the only two available when I got there on the soft opening night. It wasn’t as exciting as what I saw on the Canberra Times and various other websites covering the soft opening but I was here so I had to try it out. The cake was nice, with a soft white chocolate filling infused with champagne cream. The champagne flavour really came through nicely and jazzed up the cake, taking it from your typical white chocolate and raspberry cake into something quite different and exciting. There was also a single layer of raspberry coulis which was really sour in flavour, this worked really well and cut through the creaminess and sweetness of the white chocolate and champagne part. Finally, this was brought all together with some really nutty, fluffy tasting cake.
As nice as this cake was, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting from Mr.Frugii, it just wasn’t as creative as I’ve come to expect from the fine people at Frugii. I do eventually manage to try most of the cakes that are being splashed all about on social media which were extremely creative and tasty but more about those cakes in my return visit below.
Our final cake for the night was the Dark chocolate cake ($6). This cake completely contrasted the white chocolate and raspberry cake which was really light and fruity. This cake was rich, dense and heavy. I enjoyed the flavour of this cake over the first one. Here the flavours of the milk chocolate, dark chocolate and coffee cream worked in complete harmony. Even thought there were plenty of rich flavours, the cake overall wasn’t too sweet and was actually really well balanced. In addition to all the chocolate, coffee creams and frosting, there was also a pastry like cake part. This made the cake much denser and gave it a little bit of substance as well.
Again like with the white chocolate and raspberry cake, I thought this cake was nice but at the same time, a type of cake I’ve seen many times before. It’s probably unfair to dock points for creativity, but Mr. Frugii has always been a higher standard for me, and this tasted precisely as it looked. Hence, at the end of the night, I did leave slightly disappointed with the cakes, I just felt like something was missing. Though of course, I knew I had to come back to try out the signature cakes as neither of these two cakes were used to promote the opening of the Frugii Dessert Laboratory and you know, there is always a reason for that. I did indeed revisit. Yep. Multiple visits and I’d like to say it was for all of you, but lets be honest here, I just wanted more ice cream.
Finally, some ice creams, the Cookies and cream ice cream ($5, small). We couldn’t just visit Mr.Frugii and have cake, we of course had to grab some ice cream for the walk home. Here at the Frugii Dessert Laboratory, there are three different sizes, $5 for a small cup like this or on a waffle cone and $10 for a much larger cup. I know it may seem a bit pricy for such a small cup, but Mr Frugii’s ice cream is for me, better than any other generic gelato place in Canberra so it’s totally worth it.
As for the actual cookies and cream flavour, it was amazing! I’m normally just okay with cookies and cream flavoured goodies, I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either (except cookies and cream milk tea from Happy Lemon, that’s absolutely delicious). Here at Mr Frugii’s the cookie flavour doesn’t hit you right away, you don’t taste it immediately when you have a spoon, instead it comes through as the ice cream melts in your mouth. I really enjoyed this mildness, I normally find most cookies and creams goodies too rich, flavourful and it tends to get sicken towards the end, here I didn’t have that problem at all.
Finally, the Pistachio ice cream ($5, small). Again we opted for another small ice cream. Normally, I tend not to go for pistachio but after trying a couple of the flavours, I actually really enjoyed this so decided to get a whole scoop. When we were trying the different flavours, Mrs Frugii mentioned that they make the pistachio cream themselves by grinding down freshly roasted nuts. Apparently, they did it just the night before hand and I’m a sucker for all that home recipe or home made or anything like that stuff, it was too much to resist.
Knowing about the origins of the flavour, it kind of makes sense that this pistachio ice cream wasn’t neon green, I think she also mentioned that they only use natural flavouring and colours, which is always a plus for you health concious people out there. Those health people that eat ice cream. But of course, equally as important, this pistachio ice cream was really tasty. It literally tasted like crushed pistachio, no artificial flavouring or taste here. It was super nutty, really creamy from both the pistachio and the cream and it also had a little bit of smokiness to it too. Overall, a really nice and earthy ice cream, would definitely get it again.
So that was our first trip to the Frugii Dessert Laboratory. The vibe was great, Mr and Mrs Frugii were lovely as per usual, the ice creams were amazing but they always are, so no surprise there! I did find the cakes a tiny bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely weren’t bad or anything, they just weren’t quite as creative as Mr Frugii’s has gotten me used to in the past with ice creams like beer or truffle and what not. But never fear, we returned the next day to get our hands on some of the more popular and promoted cakes, and they definitely lived up to the Frugii name and creativity!
So here goes our second trip. When we got there, there were three different types of cakes left, I grabbed one of each. I did notice that there weren’t any of the slices that I had on the first day, so maybe those sold out as well. Also because two trips isn’t enough, we returned on Saturday with a friend who used to live in Canberra but has since moved back to Sydney, but when we got there, there were no cakes left! Mrs Frugii at this point recognised us (I think its a sign, waaay too many visits!) and explained that they were completely smashed in the few days that they were open and just couldn’t keep up. She expects that they’ll have more cakes coming on Wednesday, she even hinted potentially some new creations! How exciting. Oh and on that third trip, there were also new ice creams too but more about that in a second.
Onwards to some more cakes!
Our first cake for the night, Salted caramel eclair ($6). I’m so glad I grabbed my cakes quick smart as soon as I got into the store instead of dawdling around and taking pictures (surprising amount of people doing that, which is a weird thing for a person like me to notice) because when I turned to take a picture of the cabinet after I paid, I noticed that they were all gone, I guess I got the last one! Yay because this salted caramel eclair was fabulous.
I normally don’t care for eclairs, the pastry and its filling is normally too sweet and sickly for me, and this honestly sounds like it would’ve been compounded by the flavouring of salted caramel. Here at the Frugii Dessert Laboratory, it was done perfectly. The pasty was like a crisp, slight hard shell, it was dense on the edge but airy once you got inside, it was quite hard to break apart with a spoon but not in a bad way or anything.
Inside there was a lovely caramel sauce that tasted exactly like those golden butterscotch lollies. On top, there was a thin layer of caramel sauce and a couple of random golden balls. At first I thought there were just sugar balls but when I actually bit into one, I realised they were malt balls which was lovely and brought bits of crunchiness here and there.
Our second cake was the Lemon and lime choux pastry ($6). I really liked the salted caramel eclair but I think this choux pastry may have edged it out. This cake was novel, comic and tasty all in one cute little treat. It was simple with one main flavour profile but super tasty. The choux pastry was amazing light and really airy throughout. However, it had a crispy, crunchy outer shell which crumbled off if you touched it. Inside it was filled with this quite sweet lemon and lime curd that was really creamy and flavourful but was really light on the sourness that normally comes with lemon and lime, which I’m sure will please some people out there.
Mr Frugii however, made this treat to support everyone! I’m sure there’s some kind of equality message here, but I’m not the right person for it. The strong sour lemon and lime flavours were inside the dripper sticking out of the top of the cake. Kind of looked like blood or jam but flavourwise it was lemon and lime with a kick, planted there so you could choose your own level of sourness. I chose to squeeze the whole thing into my cake but the dripper concept was super cool, and I’m happy people out there are getting to choose their sourness levels.
Our final cake for the night was the Chocolate mousse with passionfruit and black tea ($6). This cake may have lost out to the salted caramel eclair and the lemon and lime choux but it’s definitely tasty in its own right but sadly the competition was just too fierce. Brownie points for being the most interesting and creative tasting and looking though!
You can’t quite see it from this picture but its actually a cup full of a really delicious malty chocolate mousse. The mousse was super light and really creamy, quite sweet compared to all the other cakes but that sweetness what perfectly balanced and contrasted but the extremely acidic passionfruit curd on top, there wasn’t much of it but you definitely wouldn’t want anymore. I really enjoyed having the chocolatey deliciousness of the mousse combined with the fruity and strong flavours of the passionfruit, it kind of reminded me bit of a jaffa.
We couldn’t walk away calling this the most creative Frugii creation if that was it, so of course that wasn’t all. On top there was a glob or more of a semi sphere of black milk tea jelly. I really enjoyed the addition of something out of left field like that and it worked well with the other flavours too. Finally, there was some crushed cookies which added grit and texture to all the smoothness and some more of those great little malt balls as well!
I couldn’t just leave the Frugii Dessert Laboratory without ice cream, so we of course got some more, first up, the Lemon myrtle and butter caramel ice cream ($10, large). Here is the large ice cream option that I was talking about earlier. I thought $10 was a little steep initially too but when you see how much they give you, its pretty damn affordable! Of course, not great if you’re watching your weight or anything but come on, this place is all about desserts! The actual ice creams were amazing as per usual. I’ve had so many flavours over the years at Mr Frugii and I’ve yet to fault a single one. Maybe its because they’re so happy to let me try everything that I always end up picking one that I love.
The lemon myrtle was interesting, in a good way. It had a really lovely lemon flavour, like a lemon tart that wasn’t too sour, quite similar to the cake above now that I think about it. It had some floral notes, but was mainly a lovely light lemon flavour that was hugely refreshing, that it almost made me think I was eating a sorbet. I guess thats why I like Mr Frugii’s ice creams so much, you can have a straight cream one and not feel heavy and sleepy afterwards like you would at other places.
The butter caramel was delicious as per usual. It had a really strong caramel flavour without being too sweet as caramel often is. There was also that creaminess and buttery goodness as an aftertaste. I also find the butter caramel has this smokiness to it as well, which is a massive plus. I’ve had this a bunch of times from their stall at the Bus Depot Markets and this is as good as it always is. It’s little heavier than the rest though, so keep that in mind when ordering!
On our third trip, when we only got ice cream, I opted for two flavours, the Rosemary and Musk ($5, small). Yup, it took us three trips to work up the courage to ask whether we could have two flavours at once, but luckily the answer was a resounding yes! It doesn’t matter what size cup you get, I imagine you can get as many flavours as you want and I’m assuming you can do that for the cones too. Looking at the cup, you can’t really tell its two flavours, you would assume that musk would have a lovely pale pink colour to it but no, none of that here.
Apparently musk doesn’t actually have colour to it, those pink musk sticks we see in the stores are just artificially coloured. I know, shock horror, how could our favourite childhood treats have such chemicals, but I’m assured it’s true. This ice cream may not look like musk, but the musk ice cream definitely tasted the part. When you’re eating it, its like you’re chewing on an actual musk stick. Thats how similar the flavours were. I guess the only difference is the added creaminess and the lovely cooling effect of ice cream. So if you’re in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, this is definitely for you!
The rosemary flavour was honestly not what I was expecting! For some reason when I saw rosemary I didn’t expect the herb, I thought it was, some sort of dish that I hadn’t tried before. Well, it’s the herb. It’s a really interesting ice cream actually, the rosemary flavours are really strong but not too overwhelming or anything like that. It had a lot of creaminess to it as well. This could be a personal thing, but the rosemary did get a little more sickening towards the end. It’s really cool to see people trying interesting flavours like this, again with no weird colourings or anything, so it’s all just white. I much preferred the musk flavour to this, though I acknowledge that musk was a flavour that was much more suitable for ice cream in the first place anyway.
Finally, the Peppermint and rosemary ($5, small). I totally forgot to say but on our third trip there, the ice cream flavours had completely changed. There was a whole new list of flavours, including these three and a sorrel sorbet that Mr Frugii was making for Pulp Kitchen and some other cool stuff like peanut butter and smoky bacon flavour which was sold out when we got there, but how cool does that sound?!
Anyways, I won’t talk about the rosemary again, I don’t think it changes from scoop to scoop, so just something quick on the peppermint ice cream since I imagine you’re probably over reading about ice creams that all looks the same and that I seem to love equally. The peppermint ice cream like the musk and rosemary ice cream was completely free of any artificial flavours or colours, no neon greens here. Also I’m pretty sure Mrs Frugii was explaining that they extract the flavours for peppermint and rosemary themselves. That’s some passion and dedication! The peppermint was lovely, a lot better than the artificial stuff you get in the pack actually. It’s a lot more milder in flavour, which was a good thing. It didn’t make the ice cream too boring too quick or overwhelming, great stuff and one of our favourites.
So far, I’ve visited the Frugii Dessert Laboratory three times, I’m sure I’m going to lose count very soon. this place is simply amazing. Its cakes were tasty, creative and very affordable. The ice creams are simply my favourite in Canberra (and Sydney too, that’s right I like Mr Frugii’s ice cream more than Messina!!) and they’re Mr Frugii good, yes that’s a new benchmark for ice creams now (at least for me). One of the best parts, the Frugii Dessert Laboratory is open from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 11pm. I can officially stop complaining about not being able to find a fun place to hang out at night that doesn’t involve alcohol so hooray for me.