Launched in March, French bistro Bistrot Gavroche is one of the newest restaurants to open in the new urban development of Kensington Street in Sydney’s Chippendale – right near the heritage-listed boutique five-star hotel, The Old Clare.
Elements of the interior were hand-selected by chef and co-owner Frederic Colin and co-owner and sommelier, Lionel Richard, who has worked with Alain Ducasse. Frederic has worked in numerous Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, as well as at five-star hotels like St. Regis Bora Bora and St. Regis Singapore. In 2011, Frederic launched his first solo venture, Brasserie Gavroche in Singapore.
Raised above street level, the charming bistro is housed within a former rum warehouse. Upon entry, you feel as though you’re stepping straight into a Parisian diner, with the tiled floors, vintage curios including soda syphons and suspended bicycles, Bentwood chairs and high ceilings with exposed beams.
Seated on the curved, red leather banquette, dishes are thoughtfully presented while French music playing in the background creates a distinctly Parisian ambiance. Watch while the bartenders pour wines including Sancerre and Pinot Noir by the glass – with Lionel on hand for recommendations. Warm circular bread puffs with soft cheese centres are presented in an aluminum cone lined with replica French newspaper. The large, oversized menu is handed to me in a wooden frame, written in a Belle Époque-style font. The cuisine pays homage to Frederic Colin’s youth where he cooked in his grandfather Henri’s restaurant from the age of 10.
For entrée, you can choose from Grandpa Henri’s pork terrine; onion soup; bone marrow on toasted sourdough with confit garlic; and Burgundy snails baked in their shell with parsley and garlic butter. I feasted on a charcuterie platter with pickles and cornichons presented in red earthenware pots.
Mains include shredded duck confit with crushed potatoes and bacon gratin; Grandpa Henri’s pike fish quenelles with crayfish sauce; and the quintessential Steak Frites, with O’Connor grass-fed scotch fillet, Bearnaise sauce and French shoestring fries.
Whatever you do, save room for dessert, with so many decadent French options to choose between, you might need some time to ponder. I sampled the tangy lemon meringue tart with pillows of meringue perched atop a beautiful sweet pastry, while the Crêpe Suzette, Tarte Tatin, crepes with Grand Marnier and Profiteroles or cheese platter look equally tempting. One of the dessert highlights is the ceremonial wheeling of the rum trolley to your table by Lionel, who will recommend the most appropriate rum (ranging in age from three to 25 years and from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Haiti and Mauritius) to accompany your dessert.
Lemon meringue tart