A Touch of France in Crows Nest, North Sydney
Dear readers, I am delighted to inform you about a few lovely French surprises in the heart of Willoughby Road Crows Nest. Unless your’e a local not many people realise what a treasure the suburb of Crows Nest is especially Willoughby Road – a vibrant hub for shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants of all kinds. I adore driving up to Crows Nest, on the Lower North Shore, as an escape from the chaos of our Eastern Suburbs and spending a day or evening there with family or friends and always feel as though I’m somewhere far from Sydney and delight in the European atmosphere there. I love strolling along the lively Willoughby Road and spending a bit of time peeking into all the arty boutiques and shops and as a coffee enthusiast I am happy to report that no matter where you stop for a coffee along Willoughby Road you’ll be impressed as they really excel at coffee making here.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more French inspired food shops opening their doors to the delight of locals and not so locals. You can find a touch of France all throughout Willoughby Road and in the back and side streets from Bakery cafes like La Baguette and St Malo that make delicious artisan breads and pastries just like you would find in France and restaurants like Le Bouchon, La Grillade and Paradoxe Restaurant. While La Grillade and Paradoxe Restaurant have been around for over 20 years, Le Bouchon French restaurant is a relatively new addition to the Willoughby Road scene and offers authentic French food and many of our favourite classics like Omelettes, Moules Frites, Souffle, Charcuterie, delicious salads, Steak Tartare and so much more in a modern bistro setting with gorgeous decor and exposed bricks. For me, nothing beats the simplicity of beautifully baked fresh bread and the sweet butteriness of pastries and tarts, it is a personal weakness my hips and waist have paid dearly for, so when I see a traditional French bakery the excitement is palpable.
When I noticed La Baguette for the first time I was on the opposite side of the road getting my French book fix at the wonderful Constant Reader book store that always has something French related in stock and where I happened to find a great book on the day titled “The Food Lover’s Guide To Paris” by Patricia Wells. As I stepped out of the book store I by mere coincidence glanced in the direction of the bakery and dashed over the road to check it out. The mouth-watering display of breads, quiches, pastries, cakes, tarts and gluten free options impressed me and without hesitation I placed my order and took a seat at one of their rustic tables taking in the pretty provincial like interior. At this point I had totally forgotten about mon mari who happened to be waiting for me where I had left him by the shoe store and immediately sent him an sms to come and join me pronto. If it’s a delicious cake, bread, pastry or sandwich you’re after La Baguette will transport you to Provincial France as you sip on a well made coffee and indulge in a fruit tart or flaky pastry. On the other end of Willoughby Road you’ll find another treasure of a French bakery by the name of St Malo with organically made artisan breads and sweet treats and where you can sit down to have a coffee and enjoy a hot breakfast, brunch or lunch. This local favourite has more of a Parisian flare with tables spilling out onto the pavement from where you can people watch and keep a greedy eye on the bread and pastry display from within. At the back of the cafe/bakery there is a lovely enclosed, well kept court yard where mums’ and their babies asleep in prams like to sit and regain their strength over a cafe latte and golden croissant. Although St Malo was sadly closed when I walked by this time I usually make sure to grab a coffee there and their most popular organic spelt and rye loaf to enjoy with a cheese or charcuterie platter later at home.
It seems the boutiques and various little shops on Willoughby Road have also been given a wave of the French magic wand as there is something French inspired to buy in any given store. Whether it’s a French inspired book, scented candle, fragrance, lotion, stationary, fashion piece or accessory or an interesting tchotchke to display at home you’ll most definitely find something to appeal to your French senses. Even the local chemists have something French inspired to offer in terms of fragrance and lotions and ladies can enjoy some pampering in French style at the Ella Bache Beauty salon that has been operating in Crows Nest for over twenty years offering unique skincare treatments and was awarded a Finalist Local Business Award for outstanding beauty services in 2016.
So, if your’e in need of some French inspiration in Sydney’s North Shore and don’t mind going for a bit of a drive then Crows Nest’s little food and shop hub on Willoughby Road is just what you need. France has made it’s way to this part of town with a warm embrace and fits right in with the European inspiration of the area and pretty tree lined streets. Hope you’ll tap into my blog site soon for detailed reviews on the restaurants and cafes here in Crows Nest. In the mean time you can read about my Paradoxe French Restaurant review – a Crows Nest institution. Dear reader’s, are you entranced by Crows Nest’s touch of France?
La Baguette 16 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest NSW 02 9906 6602
St Malo 83 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest NSW 02 9906 6256
Le Bouchon French Cafe/Bistro 104 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest 02 9966 0906
La Grillade French Restaurant 118 Alexander Street, Crows Nest 02 9439 3707
Paradoxe French Restaurant 98 Falcon Street, Crows Nest 02 9956 8898