French food is enjoying a renaissance in Sydney, and is re-emerging with a new sense of adventure.
The obscure or new wave of La nouvelle is ditching the congestion in favor of cute neighborhood bistros, bustling bars and bakeries stocked with golden and buttery pastries.
Some, like Bistro Papillon, have embraced social media trends by introducing raclette, the original cheesecake pull, to the Instagram generation. Others, like Hubert, have reinvented classic dishes with an unexpected Asian twist (see: escargot with salty XO sauce).
While French cuisine is worth celebrating year-round, the approach of Bastille Day, France’s national day, on July 14 provides a welcome excuse to check out some of Sydney’s best French dishes.
For an almond croissant, visit Lode
The polished crust of Lode’s sugar-coated almond croissant pulls out the buttery flakes to reveal a smooth frangipane filling. It’s a wine lover’s dream, but it gets better from there. A Lode spokesperson said: “Our croissant is not your typical almond croissant.” good food. “In addition to the almond filling, we add the light vanilla cream and the boiled pear with spices.”
487 Crown Street, Surrey Hills, Lodepies.com
Almond croissant at Lode.
For an escargot, visit Hubert
Snails are usually served inside their shells with a generous amount of green garlic butter. But not at the Hubert French Restaurant. Chef Alexis Besseau adds a Chinese twist with homemade XO sauce butter. “It’s a buttery, spicy dish that has a bit of a punch without overpowering the taste of the snails,” Besso says. “It’s one of the best dishes we’ve had on the menu. We sold about 300 snails just last week.”
15 Bligh Street, Sydney, 02 9232 0881, swillhouse.com/venues/restaurant-hubert
Hubert’s escargot with XO butter.
For galettes, visit Four Frogs
At Four Frogs, a mixture of home-ground buckwheat flour, eggs, and salt is expertly prepared in a cast iron skillet before being skillfully folded around combinations such as ham, Swiss cheese, eggs or prosciutto, goat cheese, walnuts, and honey. For the full experience, pair delicious galette with French cider during the winter.
30 St Paul’s Street, Randwick, 029398 3818, fourfrogs.com.au
For raclette, visit Bistro Papillon
Social media users have always been fascinated by the sight of molten cheese flying on plates of potatoes, pickles and cured meats. At Bistro Papillon, the hearty raclette was so popular that it went from a monthly special to a staple. “We provide high quality cheese that has been carefully selected and has an adequate fat content,” says co-owner Xavier Huitorel. “This will ensure the best melting experience.”
Bastille Day: Bistro Papillon offers a five-course dinner menu at $130 per person of French classics like escargots de Bourgogne and coq au vin from Thursday, July 14 to Saturday, July 16.
98 Clarence Street, Sydney, 02 9262 2402, bistropapillon.com.au
Savoy delicious raclette at Bistro Papillon.
For steaks, visit Bistrot 916
The French-Australian plat du jour is undoubtedly the steak frites. In Bistrout 916, Rib-eye Rangers Valley is cooked to medium-rare, then served with a creamy chili sauce. Enjoy the classic way by pairing french fries with mushrooms, lobsters, or ducks.
22 Chalis Street, Potts Point, 02 9167 6667, bistrot916.com
For a classic twist, try the duck fries at Bistrot 916. Photo: Edwina Pickles
For French onion soup, visit Macleay St Bistro
The French onion soup at Macleay St Bistro in Potts Point is as rich, fleshy and as aromatic as you wish. Owner Philip Vickers says the onions are slowly caramelized in butter, cooked in twice-reduced beef and beef broth, and then crowned with a toasted bread topped with Comte cheese.
Bastille Day: Macleay St Bistro celebrates Bastille Day with a four-course lunch and dinner menu at $110 per person on Thursday, July 14 that includes chicken liver parfait, duck breast and profiteroles.
73A Macleay Street, Potts Point, 029358489, macleaystbistro.com.au
McClei Street Bistro French Onion Soup. Photo: James Brickwood
For baguettes, visit Goodwood Bakeshop
A favorite Marrickville bakery produces delicious semi-fermented baguettes – optional sesame, poppy, fennel or caraway seeds. They use sediment from white and rye dough, in-house milled malt flour and only a small amount of commercial yeast to create a delicious wine on the French staple. He shows up at 7.30am to score a new one from the oven.
297 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville, 042054837, goodwoodbakeshop.com.au
Baguettes baked fresh from the oven at Goodwood Bakeshop in Marrickville.
For French sweets, visit Frenchies
Delicate French pastries and pastries aren’t what one would expect when visiting a brewery, but the bistro accompanying the French boasts one of the best cream in town. Pastry Chef Céline Vindeville trained at the Michelin-starred Barrière Le Westminster in Le Touquet, France before entering Rosebery’s French cuisine. Their dessert offerings change seasonally, but may include their modern take on the classic Mont Blanc, raspberry tart with vanilla custard cream or warm chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream.
Bastille Day: Leaning back to their French roots, the kitchen staff offers a four-course menu through Saturday, July 16. There will be light dumplings, fish mousse (pike quinel), cassoulet montalbanes, and crème brulee ($85 a head).
Shop 6, 61-71 Mintmore Street, Rosebury, 02 8964 3171, frenchiesbistroandbrewery.com.au
For Charcuterie, visit Loulou
Stroll like the French with a soft grassy spot next to the harbor, a rare moment of sunshine, and a bamboo basket full of charcuterie from Milsons Point’s favorite Loulou. Rotisserie hens, Terrines and pâté en croûte are in the traiteur, by French-born Charcoté Cyprien Picard (formerly Victor Churchill).
Bastille Day: On Thursday, July 14, Loulou serves up an à la carte menu of French classics. The piece of resistance will be a whole duck of orange, 14 days old, and then served three ways for two to four people.
61 Lavender Street, Melsons Point, 02 8000 7800, loulou.sydney
The traiteur in Loulou has everything you need for an elegant French picnic. Photo: Con Poulos