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First Taste: Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Michelle Brotohusodo

If you follow Canberra’s food scene, you’ll know by now that after much anticipation, the Frugii Dessert Laboratory opened its doors at 12pm on Wednesday, 14 January 2015. While I wasn’t able to make it there during work hours, I kept seeing photos of amazing looking Frugii desserts pop up on my Facebook newsfeed from those who were able to go.

Needless to say, by the time I finished work I was desperate to get there. Now, I had previously arranged to meet some friends for dinner at The Hamlet at 7.30pm, after which we would go to Frugii. I got home from work at about 6pm, and had an internal tussle – should I wait to go with my friends, or should I crack and have pre-dinner dessert?

For those of you who follow my posts, you can guess which option won. I rang another dessert-loving friend of mine, who was happily free and eager to come along, and 10 minutes later we were at Frugii. I have to say, my motive in finding a friend to come with me wasn’t entirely selfless – I figured if I went with another person then we could order more so I could try more.

Now, Frugii isn’t on the main road per se, so after parking the car we walked down the street to figure out which building it was in (the new Ori). To make things easy for those of you who haven’t been there yet, you need to look for this:


Once you walk through the entrance, you will easily find Frugii to the right.

Frugii’s space is nice and open, with clean lines. A large table occupies the middle, with a tall bench to one side and cute ‘single’ tables to the other. The main counter sits parallel to the back wall.



My friend and I made a beeline for the counter as soon as we got into the shop. Now, when Frugii opened its doors at 12pm, there were eight types of cake. By the time my friend and I arrived at 6.15pm, there were only two kinds left. And eight kinds of homemade ice cream and sorbet.


So it was that we ended up with a piece of opera cake and a piece of pumpkin seed and olive oil sponge with champagne mousse and berry jelly (70% strawberry, 30% raspberry), topped with a white chocolate glaze.


Apart from making the decision easy (I sometimes have trouble deciding what to order), this situation also meant I tried the desserts I probably wouldn’t have necessarily ordered if the others had still been available – which is a good thing.

The first time I ever tried Frugii ice cream, I said that while the flavours I picked weren’t what you’d call healthy, the ice cream seemed healthy. The same can be said of the desserts. Both the desserts we tried had a lightness to them, but were still full of flavour. This is in contrast to desserts at other places that are heavy and stodgy, you know, the kind that make you feel bloated and dense. The beauty of the Frugii desserts was that you were able to enjoy the taste, but because they were light you didn’t feel overwhelmed afterwards (of course I guess this depends on how many you end up eating at once – I imagine if there had been other desserts still available my friend and I might have ended up ordering three or four between us).


The opera cake was nice and moist, chocolatey with a touch of coffee. The pumpkin seed and olive oil sponge with champagne mousse and berry jelly was a really unusual combination – I’d never heard of a ‘savoury’ sponge with a sweet mousse before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The flavours of the sponge and mousse were delicate, while the berry jelly was a bit stronger, but they went well together. On first glance, the sponge looked dense, but it was lovely and light, and I really liked it, especially with the other components.

My friend also ended up ordering dark chocolate ice cream and lemon sorbet. Both of these were great. The ice cream was lovely and creamy, and the sorbet was tangy and refreshing, like lemonade in a delicately frozen form.


There was a steady stream of customers while we were there, ranging from families with small children to young professionals and older couples. The atmosphere was cheerful, with customers clearly excited to be there and John and Ed Marshall (Mr and Mrs Frugii) happy to see their vision come to life, and enjoying chatting to people (and a little bit shocked at how busy the shop was on its first day, I think!).

The opera cake sold out during this time, and there wasn’t many of the sponge/mousse/jelly one left (evidence below).


When I made it to dinner, I duly informed my other friends of this, but they were still keen to check it out and have some ice cream.

So it was that my second visit to Frugii was only about two hours after my first. But this time, the line was out the door (I read a comment on Facebook by John that at one stage during the day the line was out the building)! But it moved quickly, and so I got to try another round of sweet treats, with my friends and I between us ordering lemon sorbet, cookies and cream ice cream, and pistachio ice cream (the rest of the dessert was long gone by then, I know that my friend Tales of a Confectionist got the second last piece at about 8pm).


I was curious to know if the desserts and ice cream would change every day, so I asked. The answer was yes—while the most popular flavours of dessert and ice cream would probably remain staples on the menu, there would definitely be new things to try. The message I took away from that was, if you see it and you want it, get it then! And if you can’t eat it right away, get it takeaway (that goes for the ice cream too)! Or maybe that’s just the way I think…The other good news is that they’ll probably be making a higher number of desserts, now they have a better idea of how much they’ll need.

Anyway, in summary, Frugii Dessert Laboratory is an exciting addition to Canberra’s dessert scene, and I can’t wait to go back and try more of their creations.

If you’re curious as to what else was on the dessert menu during the day, you can check out Jessica Schumann’s photos here.

The essentials
The place: Frugii Dessert Laboratory
Where: Ori Building, 28-30 Lonsdale St, Braddon
When:  Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm-11pm
Food: Homemade ice creams, sorbets, gelatos, and desserts, including chilled cakes and verrines
Drinks: Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
Contact: Call 0438 366 368, visit the website at www.frugii.com or check out their Facebook page




Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. More than 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

  • Heather

    Thank goodness you went BEFORE dinner first!! Great review Michelle, I love reading about your visits to places.

    I too am a fan of dark chocolate icecream with lemon sorbet, so I’m glad to see a picture of the combo.

  • Heather

    Thank goodness you went BEFORE dinner first!! Great review Michelle, I love reading about your visits to places.

    I too am a fan of dark chocolate icecream with lemon sorbet, so I’m glad to see a picture of the combo.

  • Can’t wait to try this out! The cakes look delish too.

  • Can’t wait to try this out! The cakes look delish too.

  • Michelle ur the best !