Bistro Papillon Sydney CBD
In the heart of Sydney’ very European inspired Clarence Street, and a baguette throw away from the Alliance Francaise French Academy, a delightful little French bistro by an equally delightful name beckons for one’s attention. Bistro Papillon, which in French translates to butterfly and is also the name of an adorable dog breed with butterfly like ears, opened its attractive wings to the public after landing ever so lovingly on to the Sydney CBD restaurant scene eight years ago and has been going strong ever since. Best friends and French expats Chef Ludo Geyer and restaurant manager Xavier Hultorel harboured a romantic dream when working together in France which was to one day open an authentic, quaint French bistro in Sydney that would offer an array of popular, well loved and unfussy French dishes in a very Parisian meets Provence setting that would be adored by all who visit. Papillon is a little slice of French heaven indeed that is in fact more like a portal that transports you straight to France with its picture perfect old world interior and décor to its outstanding cuisine served by real French waiters. Here is where the French caldander dictates the special events and menu offered throughout the year which only aids in amplifying the bistro’s French appeal and keeps bringing the social butterfly crowds back for another irresistible taste and experience of that je ne sais quoi.
Classic petite Paris rattan chairs and wooden tables sheltered by over sized buttery yellow outdoor umbrellas grace the strip and rest by Bistro Papillon’s beautiful and historic façade. In the evening, a warm, soft and inviting glow eminates from the stunning arched windows with dramatically dark wooden window panes that reveal a cosy interior and ambience. By the old fashioned arched entrance two blackboard on either side of the door highlight the bistro’s delicious French cuisine and entices one to come inside. Once inside, the authentic French quaintness and setting immediately warms the soul and even in a space so cosy and petite you will find every angle and corner of the bistro competing for your attention as you admire and soak in all the wonderful references to France. The first thing to grab my attention, being a sucker for Parisian poster art and souvenirs, is the bistro’s gallery of beautifully selected and appointed wall art. The star of the show is undisputedly an antique find (by Ludo the proprietor himself), direct from Paris featuring a show girl from the Folies Bergere adorned in nothing more than baby blue ostrich feathers, skimpy bejewelled lingerie and a smile.
Along the gallery main wall, patrons sit sipping wine comfortably at the chocolate brown leather banquet seating flanked by little dark wooden square tables where an elongated shelf area just behind prettily displays additional wine bottles, dried flowers and more little pieces of framed art referencing France. By the banquet tables a delightful ever so tiny bar with maximum charm shows off the bistro’s pretty glassware, wine and spirts, an old fashioned coffee machine, more French tchokches and a humorous little sign that reads “Rue De La Soif” that translates in English to “thirsty street”. A lovely vas of pink tulips rests to the corner of the bar’s benchtop where an over sized candle with dramatic coils of solid wax support a little black board that reads French Martini $17. The French theatrics continue on the opposite side with more delighful frames pieces of art, a European inspired faux fire place adorned with a celestrial framed art piece, tea candles and wine bottles draws ones attention to the stunning French wine feature wall that rests above the bistro’s stair case which leads downstairs to the cleverly appointed bathroom zone where you’ll be taken by surprise with another gallery wall featuring French movie icons and a tres adorable gossip and seating area.
As we are escorted the our table by the stair case and bar from where the open plan kitchen to the back of the restaurant revealed a pleasant cooking and preparation scene. The aromas of rich, winey sauces and garlic butter immediately amplified my feeling of cosiness and happiness and as I absorbed the prettiness and authenticity of the space Chef/proprietor Ludo himself offered us menus and engaged in a little conversation about France and events to come which was a highlight of our evening indeed. Ludo’s passion for French cuisine and France was endearing and he was delighted and humbled by my adoration of Bistro Papillon and how just seeing the adorable outdoor scene alone was enough to melt my all things French loving heart four years ago when mon mari and I first discovered Bistro Papillon, quite by accident, on one of our days out to the city. I told him my disappointment when I couldn’t book a table for dinner later that same day as they were fully booked out for both lunch and dinner but made a special trip to the city again a fortnight later with friends to show off our little find and how we all look forward to coming back time and again.
The menu at Bistro Papillon offers patrons an unpretentious and authentic taste of France’s beloved rustic and Provincial cuisine, from various regions, that is elegantly served and presented to maximise the experience and pleasure factor for a decent price. The menu seduces the French cuisine lover with tempting items like Moules Poulette with Frites, Tartare De Boeuf, Pate De Foie De Volaille, Confit De Canard, Cassolette De Fruits De Mer Au Chorizo, Risotto Aux Champignons, Boeuf Bourguignon, Anguillettes De Poulet Au Poivre Vert and more temptations with a separate menu offering carnivorous delights like special cuts of steak prepared your way with accompanying sauces that will melt your heart. Something else that will melt your heart and make you feel like bursting into operatic song is Bistro Papillon’s small but very delicious dessert menu featuring items like Classic Crème Brulee, Bavarois Au Chocolate Et Griottes, Tarte Tatin Aux Pommes and Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Something that will also impress is the Bistro’s incredible wine list featuring some memorable village and appellation wines and some good Australian choices too not to forget to mention a great choice of liqueurs, Digestifs and dessert wines. Something that impressed me was Papillon’s “The Happy Ending” Digestif Degustation for $21 per person offering a taste of three of the bistro’s finest choices of dessert and digestif beverages such as the Calvados-Reserve Dupont, Marc De Chateau-Neuf Du Pape Mont-Redon and Cognac-Frapin-Grande-Champagne. Bistro Papillon also offers a Gluten free menu and a Prix Fixe menu or set menu for large bookings or functions check their website for details. Bistro Papillon also offers exciting lunch and diner menus during special French calander days throughout the year such as Bastille Day coming up very soon and a Soiree Raclette menu (one of French people’s favourite and beloved cheese) offering the Raclette Traditionnelle and offered during certain days of the month so check the bistro’s calendar for more information on when to taste this delicious melted cheese served with equally delicious traditional items.
On the evening mon mari, our youngest son and I immensely enjoyed the perfectly prepared and presented Escargots De Bourgogne, Pate De Foie De Volaille and Soupe A L’Oignon for entrees and for mains Risotto Aux Champignons, a magnificent rich and winey Boeuf Bourguignon served with pasta and an outstanding Steak Béarnaise Et Frites (comes with a lovely green salad), with a side of French green beans and baguette with butter. For dessert we shared the bistro’s hard to resist eclairs with chocolate sauce and ice cream and a serving of decadent chocolate ice cream served with a mound of glorious whipped cream. The service here is outstanding and the waiters, all with a French background, were charming and friendly delivering well timed dishes with a smile and making sure that every patron felt welcome and content with their orders.
In a busy and increasingly intensifying city as Sydney, it is more than reassuring to know that a quaint bistro like Bistro Papillon exists and conveniently tucked away from the hustle and bustle. Bistro Papillon promises the comfort and joy that traditional French cuisine provides and that is something that we sometimes really need and crave when the uncertainties of the world becomes all too much to bare. I for one feel more content and reassured in knowing that when in need of some French traditional comfort food and a pleasant reminder of my time in France I can always reserve a table at Bistro Papillon and be warmly welcomed and received but above all well wined and fed. “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you”. Dear readers, are you entranced by Bistro Papillon inspired by France?
98 Clarence Street, Sydney T: 02 9262 2402