The French House at Dank Street Waterloo ** Has Permanently Closed!!
** Dear readers, this gorgeous cafe has now permanently closed!!!
Dear readers, a little cafe oozing French elegance and savoir faire, in perhaps a part of Sydney where you would least expect to indulge the francophile within, is to be found in the petite, trendy and innovative food and furniture strip on Dank Street in Waterloo. If you have ever imagined what a cross between Coco Chanel’s favourite tea salon Angelina’s in Paris would look like if merged with an antique store and Marie Antoinettes country hamlet at Versailles then The French House on Dank Street would be the product of this rather interesting fusion. Although the only reference to Chanel you’ll find at The French House are ladies adorned in costume jewellery and Chanel shopping totes and there are no perfumed pampered sheep roaming around either, that old refined world of the French tea salon we all adore is captured here. Resting on the corner of the quieter end of Dank Street, the mood here is refined yet extremely relaxed and a great place to host a ladies tea party, bring your family and of course that romantic lunch date where you’ll surely impress the object of your desire or your hard to please friends from out of town.
As a lover of interior design especially French design, I am compelled to take my hat off to the creativity and brilliance of the amazing interior designers who capturedthe essence of the old world of the French tea salon/patisserie merging it ever so slightly with a touch of faux and nouveau to create perfect French harmony, balance and ambience. The main interior of the cafe is surrounded by a stunning wrap around raised veranda with steps that lead you to a spectacular facade where you’ll be greeted by large glass and wood framed doors anchored by lanterns and windows with gold, tendril font signage that reads French House to one side and Patisserie on the other. The expansive windows reveal opulent, gold toned, leafy paisley curtains trimmed with romantic tassels from within and a warm, inviting glow emanates from them. The veranda is vast and practical and wrought iron framed French country chairs rest beside metallic tables where guests are offered privacy by raised railing and trimmed plush bushes, leafy trees and flower pots hang decoratively by the awning. The loveliest feature of the veranda are the two live native trees that provide beautiful additional foliage and seem to have been cleverly incorporated into the construction of the building to provide that necessary wow factor and extra appeal.
The theme here is Louis XIV with a touch of French country where glass cabinets, a dazzling chandelier, gilt framed mirrors and faux opulently framed portraits that rest against black and white pin striped wallpaper are toned down by rustic dark wood flooring and tables and where grand book shelves display pretty books and decorative items. Elaborate gold framed chalk boards displaying the menu anchor the wall behind the counter where beautifully displayed quiches, sandwiches and desserts tempt the soul from behind their glass box cabinets. The floor space is cleverly divided into elegant seating vignettes each with its own character and guest requirements. To the side of the cafe, a collection of Paris cafe tables for two stand in a row with upholstered French country style dining chairs resting beside awaiting and beckoning patrons to take respite. Opposite, rests a stunning over-sized French country dark wood table with elegant curved piano legs with perfectly matching chairs suitable for a large party of guests. In between the cafe tables for two and the coffee and pay counter rests the queen of the seating arrangement where two black faux velvet upholstered Louis IV sofas face one another divided by a stunning dark carrera marbled top coffee table plays host to a tea break enjoyed by a threesome of young mums and their well behaved toddlers indulging in quiche and cake over cheerful conversation.
Another lovely and newish aspect to the cafe is the addition of affordable bric a brac to provide another dimension and point of interest to lovers of all things French. One side of the cafe is totally devoted to home decor adding another layer to the French interiors and broadening the French experience to customers with a fancy for French decor. The popular concept tried and tested by other multi concept stores and received with great enthusiasm where cafe is merged with home decor and furnishing is wonderful bonus here at French house. My observation whilst having lunch there with a friend recently revealed that customers would not only leave with a tummy filled with French patisserie but also with some French inspired tchotchkes to display in their homes. My friend and I couldn’t resist purchasing some delightful items either and enjoyed the process of rummaging through the layers of gorgeous items on display and delighting in the sensory overload of French inspired home ware. I had my eye on a particular tea set while enjoying lunch but little did I know at the time I’d be leaving with a photo frame and mini faux topiary tree to display in my courtyard (shhh! don’t tell hubby).
As is customary in a traditional tea salon/cafe the menu offers a delicious variety of breakfast and brunch items where an assortment of quiche, sandwiches, granola, French toast, omelettes, egg dishes including the ever popular eggs benedict and croque monsieur, Most importantly the cafe has a delectable and generous choice of French gateaux and patisserie on offer. There is a lovely selection of teas, coffee and iced beverages such as iced coffee, iced chocolate and iced chai latte amongst others to choose from not to forget a wholesome and irresistible selection of French bread to take away and enjoy. I have been to the French House a number of times since they opened for business back in 2010 and can honestly say the food is always fresh, delicious and beautifully prepared and food and drink are served on dishes and in cups that are so Frenchy and chic making the experience more pleasurable and appetising. On this occasion my dear friend and I were in the mood for something simple so we both enjoyed a quiche each – spinach and ricotta for her and mushroom pour moi and shared a heavenly mille feuille and a pear with chocolate and almond tart with a tea and coffee. High tea is another appealing item on offer and the creative staff at The French House know exactly how to whip together an appealing tiered plate for those girly gatherings or tea parties. High tea is also a perfect way to sample a sound selection of sweet and savoury items from The French House patisserie and dessert menu.
The service here at The French House is calm, cool and relaxed. To me the service is very reminiscent of the style of service you would receive in a quiet, more humble cafe in Paris where staff are professional yet amenable and not in a hurry to hand you the bill or urge you out the door. Staff here are friendly and approachable and once your order is delivered there’s no hovering around or excessive fuss just that adequate amount of attention you need in a cosy cafe.
When the francophile within you is feeling a little withdrawn and neglected and that next trip to Paris is still pending then dear reader you will certainly find solace at The French House. Here all your French whimsies and desires will be indulged as you enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of mille feuille or sip coffee from posh cups or a bowl while savouring an almond croissant or heavenly quiche in an opulent environment. As portraits of charming figures smile down at you from above glamorously wallpapered walls, dazzling mirrors and a chandelier will inject that necessary spark back into your soul. The pleasurable memories of the historic cafes and flea markets of Paris will instantly return especially whilst ogling the French inspired bric o brac for sale. As my beloved Coco Chanel famously said, “fashion changes but style endures” and I suppose this can be applied to a place like The French House. While trendy and faddy cafes or restaurants may come and go, The French House is a place that will stand the test of time for its French appeal, simple but heart warming menu and charmingly beautiful aesthetic. Dear readers, are you entranced by The French House inspired by France?
THE FRENCH HOUSE
1G DANKS STREET, WATERLOO NSW PHONE: 02 8399 2770