Bon Vin French Restaurant in Darlinghurst
Hidden in a lane in the back quarters of Darlinghurst’s eclectic and notorious restaurant strip on Stanley Street is a quaint, petite, young and unassuming French restaurant called Bon Vin or as the French would say – bon vaahh. In fact, you could easily just walk past it missing the front facade with its adorable signage above the door, chalk board stand menu and little French flags as it’s reminiscent of an entrance to the basement situated to the rear of buildings. The reason for that is because the restaurant actually finds itself in a fully renovated and elegantly decked out basement to the rear of a commercial building on Stanley Lane. This, however, is what actually adds to the restaurant’s charm and character giving it a rather caveux Parisian appeal. Once inside Bon Vin, you’ll be instantly warmed and serenaded by the jazzy French tunes playing in the background and to the heavenly aromas of French fare wafting out from the kitchen and intuitively you’ll know you’ve come to dine somewhere rather special.
As you enter through the threshold you will have to descend a staircase and then walk along a charming corridor decorated with French paraphernalia and an impressive wine bottle display while passing the kitchen where you will notice Head Chef Lisa and her team calmly chopping and stirring up the dishes of the day. As you arrive at the makeshift tiny reception stand you may quite possibly and unintentionally ignore the dimly lit and romantic dining area for the jaw dropping wall of wine or perhaps shrine for wine situated on the back wall of the restaurant. The display of wine illuminated beautifully by countless soft yellow light bulbs installed inside the wall feature will most definitely rouse and excite your interest in trying something or perhaps everything that is on display. In fact every corner of this restaurant is charming including the petite, simply set tables scattered throughout the floor to the bar where the sommelier can be seen prepping a bottle of wine to deliver to some eagerly awaiting diners.
Once seated, mon mari and I were handed a beautiful faux leather bound dinner menu which diverted our attention from the wall of wine right by our table. The menu at Bon Vin is seasonal and very impressive with a selection of French classics, some with a twist, where under every menu item you will find a wine suggestion or pairing to complement the dish which is a nice and thoughtful touch indeed. Dishes you hope to enjoy in a French restaurant make an appearance on the menu with accompaniments and sauces you would expect and some that may surprise which makes the menu here pretty exciting -inspiring a sense of anticipation. At the time mon mari and I came to dine in early April the menu was still transitioning from summer into autumn so the choice of lighter dishes still outweighed the heavier menu items which seemed perfectly appropriate for the prolonged summers we have here in Sydney. There were delicious scallops in an artichoke puree and truffle oil, duck ravioli with truffle beurre fondue, chicken liver parfait and rind of shitake mushrooms with aged balsamic vinegar pearls to have for entrees. For mains an impossible choice of mouthwatering seared duck breast with confit duck leg, 12 hour beef cheeks in an enriched Bordeaux Jus, seared sashimi grade tuna nicoise (tres magnifique!), lamb two ways – a lamb prepared in the restaurants special technique and have you ever heard of fennel tart tartan? I think you might understand why deciding what to order took some time, however, what we had ordered was absolutely outstanding to say the least alongside the heavenly bottle of Chateau De Lavagnac Merlot we selected to go with.
On the evening we enjoyed and highly recommend (if still on the menu) seared scallops with crisp pancetta and Jerusalem artichoke puree, the superb, very generous and absolutely wonderful chicken liver parfait served with pickled vegetables, onion jam and fresh bread and gourmet crackers. For mains, do try the succulently juicy duck break seared and confit leg dish as well as the melt in your mouth 12 hour beef cheeks with a to die for enriched Bordeaux jus and condiments. Dessert was also difficult to decide on as they had a lovely selection of scrumptious items to choose from including irresistible French dessert wines to go with, however the hazelnut bomb – made of muscovado sugar meringue and caramel sauce and some other exciting ingredients is to buy a ticket straight to heaven. Aside from the incredibly well executed and gorgeously presented dishes, the wine here at Bon Vin is clearly the star and you will certainly have ample, great choices of wine to enjoy from top regions in France and Australia with some other locations mixed in for good measure. People don’t just come here to dine they come for the wine as was evident by the number of people sitting or standing by the bar enjoying a glass of vin blanc or rouge with a cheese platter.
Bon Vin is still quite new on the French restaurant scene yet already has the feel of a place that’s been around forever with its well rounded and well priced menu, warm service and refined yet charming character. This is the kind of restaurant that will, much like a Bordeaux wine, age well with time where clients of all ages and walks of life will become regulars and come time and again with their families and good friends to share a great meal and some fabulous wine or perhaps to participate in the many exciting events the restaurant hosts regularly such as wine tastings. As the saying goes, the best wines are the ones we drink with friends but especially so when enjoyed at places like Bon Vin in Sydney’s delightful restaurant hub in Darlinghurst. Dear readers, are you entranced by Bon Vin restaurant inspired by France?
Bon Vin French Restaurant T: 9358 6704
10/82 Stanley St (enter via Stanley Lane) Darlinghurst.