Bistrot Gavroche a little slice of quintessential old Paris in the heart of the charming and popular Kensington street dining precinct in Chippendale. Here is where new developments merge respectfully with new and where cultures collide providing this part of town that feel of elegance, hidden laneway European charm. Chef Frederik Colin and sommelier Lionel Richard couldn’t have chosen a better location to establish their bistrot which too is filled with that old European and French charm we lovers of all things Francais desire and crave here in Sydney.
AN AMBIENCE AND SETTING TO ENTRANCE YOU
We arrive at the ground floor entry way and follow the whimsical signs up a concrete stairwell. Moments later the blisters in our frozen feet are immediately forgotten as we are greeted by a commandingly beautiful, grand oak doorway and by a very French waiter. My eyes instantly are drawn to the high-beamed ceilings and stunning over-sized sash windows and I am instantly comforted by the warm glow of the pendant lighting and tea candles that sit atop the tables. The floor plan is inviting and functional and cleverly partitioned by the Parisian style red banquettes with French café style tables perched against them adorned in white table cloth and table settings that speak to the art of perfection.
As we are seated at our banquette table, I hear the oohs and ahs of delight coming from our neighbouring diners as they receive their seductively tasty looking dessert. I notice the waiters all dressed in traditional black and white rushing around taking orders and serving dishes of gorgeously presented food. I hear the murmur of conversation and bursts of laughter from the party table on the other side. I am soothed by the clinker and clanker of wine glasses and the scraping sounds of cutlery against dishes that add to the ambience. Glancing over to my right I spy the head chef working tirelessly away with his sous chefs close at hand through a hole in the wall perched above a colloquial antique inspired white tiled wall with a lone rooster painted on them. The 1920’s inspired bar stands in front of me where barmen rush to prepare drinks and colourful bottles rest atop dark wooden shelves promising exotic cocktails and alcoholic delights. Wine glasses hang down from their stations suspended in air shimmering down like delicate chandeliers.
A vintage style bicycle that hangs above the far end of the bar and French poster art on the walls all add to the authenticity of the bistrot. As I discovered later courtesy of a chatty waiter with an adorable French accent that much of the fittings and furnishings were imported from different parts of France and Europe. At this point I’m in a Parisian dream or on the film set of a Woody Allen movie as the leading actress in a Coco Chanel vintage little black dress waiting for the action que as I sip on a French Martini. The décor transports me to Paris, diners are smiling and content, waiters rush to oblige, the head chef regularly peering out of from his kitchen maintaining a watchful eye with a smile. I at once know that I’m in a happy, memorable place and will be well fed.
FOOD AND WINE ENTICE YOUR SENSES
The menus are encased in a glass frame with pride which is an instant indicator of the attention to detail which I pleasantly discover ultimately translates into the food itself. The difficulty in changing the menus so secured in their gleaming cases suggests that the menu will be consistent throughout time and those classics we all come to experience are perfected and served with pride with the chefs own signature touches oh but of course! Fortunately for me my adorable friends love to eat as much as I do and as a result l can count on them to order big and sample a wide spectrum of the menu.
Before our entrees arrive we are treated to some lovely complimentary fresh bread and thoughtfully softened butter. Our carefully selected wine and cocktails arrive in style and are placed on top of Bistrot Gavroche logo coasters and we toast to a lovely evening and to good friendships. The bistro offers a great selection of wines from France and Australia to suit all tastes and budgets. The delicious aromas of food being prepared fill the air and our anticipation and appetites continue to grow as we await our order. Considering that there were six of us with a greedy order of 8 entrees to share the food came relatively quickly and were devoured greedily in less time being as delicious and artistically presented as they were. I would recommend the Tasmanian ocean trout with tartare and fresh horseradish and lemon, Grandpa Henri’s traditional onion soup, Burgandy snails baked in their shell with parsley and garlic butter, King crab baked with creamy mustard sauce, New Zealand diamond clams with cherry tomatoes.
After a short wait our delectable mains arrive glistening and steaming in all their artistic glory. I carefully adjust my Bistrot Gavroche white and red logo napkin in anticipation. I always make it a tradition to try Steak frites and béarnaise sauce at any French restaurant I visit. For me how a chef prepares both steak and sauce is a good indication of how well they cook so when my personal choice of Steak frites with béarnaise sauce arrives I was not disappointed but rather transported to culinary heaven. Honestly one of the best béarnaise sauces I have tried here in Sydney and the meat itself cooked to juicy and caramelised perfection. The fries were addictively tasty and perfectly presented and fried to crispy golden. I greedily sampled a bite of everyone’s order and can truly say perfectly prepared and so delicious. These mains were prepared to stay in your memory forever – you’ll definitely be reminiscing of that plate principal served here at Gavroche. I would also recommend the Pan roasted lamb rump steak with garlic confit and mashed potatoes, ranges valley 270 days beef rump steak with Penja green peppercorn sauce and fries, Spelt risotto with mushroom, Flounder with brown butter, lemon and parsley served with steamed potatoes. Pan seared trout with almonds and lemon confit.
The dessert menu is short but offers the great sought after classics we all love. We were happily sharing and spooning away at our sweet and beautifully prepared treasures of Mousse au Chocolat noir, home-made vanilla, hazelnut and chocolate ice cream, Tarte Tatin (made to perfection still thinking of that oozing caramel sauce) and profiteroles – I did warn you faint hearted readers earlier that we like to eat and order big.
Bistrot Gavroche goes out of its way to impress an audience that appreciates classic and traditional French cuisine and provides a backdrop where one is instantly transported to Paris’s Latin Quarter of the 1920’s. It isn’t cheap to dine here with the most pricey entrée at $28 and mains that climb close to the $50 mark. However, when food quality, service and ambience come together harmoniously and magically it’s worth paying that bit extra for the experience. Dear readers are you entranced by Bistrot Gavroche inspired by France?
PS apologies for the poor photography…my phone camera wasn’t responding well to the dim lighting. Check Bistrot Gavroche’s website for some gorgeous pics of the cuisine they appear exactly how they were presented to us.