French cuisine was once the epitome of fine dining. It's coming back. Here are the best French restaurants to prove it to you.
The culinary world has many reasons to be grateful to France: wine from Bordeaux, soft cheeses, coq au vin, macarons, parfait, champagne, cordon bleu, bouillabaisse, ratatouille, snooty waiters… well, maybe not that last one. Luckily we don’t believe in stereotypes.
The point is, there are plenty of reasons why you should rediscover what makes French food great. And here are the places at which to do it.
Ananas Bar & Brasserie
- Where: 18 Argyle St, The Rocks
- Opening Hours: Lunch, (Friday 12pm - 3pm), dinner (Monday to Wednesday 6pm - 12am, Thursday to Saturday 6pm - 3am)
- Bar: Monday to Friday from 12pm, Saturday from 4pm
- Facebook: Ananas Bar & Brasserie
There’s a very good reason why these guys were awarded One Hat at the 2014 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards. Under the direction of Executive Chef Paul McGrath, this Rocks-located eatery has gone from strength to strength, with a seafood-heavy menu and a champagne selection designed to impress those who scoff at Moët. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the 1920s interior is a thing of beauty, either.
- Where: 118-126 Crown St, Surry Hillsy
- Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday 6pm - 10pm, Friday 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm
- Facebook: La Brasserie
Pleasingly French-sounded names like Ratatouille, Coq au Vin and Souffle jump out at you from the La Brasserie’s menu. (Strangely enough, this is less common amongst French-slanted restaurants than you might think.) La Brasserie is very much traditional French cuisine - and yes, you can order snails. Perhaps this is why they were voted the Best French Restaurant in 2013, or maybe its down to the friendly waiters keeping your glass filled with their extensive collection of French wines. We’re not sure, but we’ll definitely be back to get to the bottom of it.
- Where: Shop 2, 411 Bourke St, Surry Hills
- Opening Hours: Wednesday to Friday 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm, Saturday 6pm - 10pm, Sunday 12pm - 9pm
- Facebook: Le Pelican
If you’ve ever felt a little overwhelmed by French wines, this is the place to dip your toe into them. Each item on the menu, from the Wapengo Lake Oysters to the duck done two ways, is matched with a by-the-glass-wine, so you can let your stomach do the choosing. After that, just sit back and relax in this beautiful sandstone building.
- Where: 88 George St, The Rocks
- Opening Hours: Sunday to Monday 8am - 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday 8am - 10pm
- Facebook: Baroque
A French Bistro that wins acclaim from media and diners alike must be doing something very, very right. That something could be the desserts alone, based on their acclaim; the delicate macarons have a loyal fanbase. Before you tuck into one or three, give the more savoury end of the menu a try—beautifully plated modern French cuisine of the scallops and steak variety will leave you wondering if you could possibly manage dessert afterwards. That’s okay—you can always save it for later.
Little Darling Diner
- Where: 458A Darling St, Balmain
- Opening Hours: Breakfast and lunch (7am - 4pm), Dinner (Thursday - Saturday 6pm -10pm). Closed Mondays.
- Facebook: Little Darling Diner
Charming is a word invented to describe places like Little Darling Diner; it’s all delicate wallpaper and squishy sofas and steaming cups of tea. They’ve taken the Spanish style of tapas eating and repurposed it for French food, with plates of Jerk Monkfish and Scallop Escabeche all designed to share. They’re fully licensed, so pop in for a glass of Chandon or a French Mule cocktail—and swing by the next morning for a takeaway croissant on your way to work.
- Where: 14 Queen St, Woollahra
- Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday 6pm - 11pm, Thursday to Sunday 12pm - 11pm
- Facebook: Vincent
In a beautiful space off Queen St lies Vincent, a place that knows the way to Woollahra’s heart is with cheese and in particular with the baked comte custard. The name takes the meanings of ‘Vin’ (wine) and ‘Cent’ (hundred), which shows their dedication to their extensive, all-French wine list.
Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon
- Where: 35 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6pm - 12am
- Facebook: Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon
Last year Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon was awarded the Top Rated French restaurant by Dimmi and once you’ve been to this Oxford St establishment, it’s not hard to see why. The menu is a loving ode to traditional French cuisine and is overseen by Marc Kuzma, otherwise known by his stage name, Claire de Lune. ‘Les Cocktails’ are classics with a Parisian twist; the Canardiere with duck-infused Whiskey seems to be straight from the Dordogne. This is one for the true Francophile at heart.
Le Maison De L’Eclair
- Where: 91 Bondi Rd, Sydney
- Opening Hours: Monday 8am - 4pm, Tuesday to Friday 8am - 6pm, Saturday 7am - 6pm, Sunday 8am - 2:30pm
- Facebook: Le Maison De L’Eclair
Move over macarons. There’s a new French dessert taking over Sydney: eclairs. And they come in almost as many flavours: Pistachio, Coconut, Espresso, Mojito, Salted Caramel.. we could go on, but we won’t. We’re too busy drooling over La Maison De L’Eclair, a cafe specialising in the sweet treats. Don’t worry, they do savoury ones, too. And they have take away, so you can bring some back with you for
the office later.
- Where: 414 Bourke St, Surry Hills (entrance is via 72a Fitzroy St)
- Opening Hours: Monday from 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday, lunch (12pm - 3pm), dinner (from 6pm), Sunday (12pm - 4pm)
- Facebook: 4Fourteen
A Surry Hills take on classic French food, 4Fourteen is a move to take the cuisine away from the stereotype of white table cloths and stuffy waiters. French food designed to share is the name of the game here; don’t go past the roast bone marrow, which is something of a specialty. Also not to be missed are the cocktails. The fact that one drink is called ‘B!#CH Don’t Kill My Vibe’ should tell you everything you need to know about their no-holds-barred attitude.