French cafes and restaurants colonize Kings Cross in Sydney

Damn it ! Our nationwide relationship may well be frozen with the French, but that hasn’t stopped them from launching a searing assault on Australia’s nightlife capital.

While we might not want their subs, Sydney’s Kings Cross is suddenly overwhelmed in return for snails, steak fries and creme brulee with a deluge of French restaurants, cafes, bistros and retail outlets.

“It’s strange that there are so many French dishes on offer in the area now,” said Leigh McDivitt, chef at Bistro Rex in Potts Point. “It may be a great travel substitute in this time of COVID.

“But I also think people now appreciate the quality products and the traditional recipes – and we cut our own meat here and age it as well. There are also a lot of professionals, actors, artists and elderly people in the area who might be more used to French cuisine and French gastronomy. And we offer them good food in a magnificent setting and especially no politics!

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Le Bistrot 916 opened in February.

The Bistro Rex, which opened in 2017, with its chicken and guinea fowl pie, its Café De Paris steaks and fries, its Coq au Fizz (chicken roasted in a champagne embers) and its classic mille-feuille with berries, is just one example. phalanx French establishments now colonizing the Cross.

Nearby are Franca Brasserie, Le Petit Louvre, Café de la Fontaine, Macleay Bistro serving modern French-inspired Australia, Bistrot 916, which opened in February, and the newest establishment, Rustic French Bistro, which has opened in mid-September. They join the classic French pastry Croissant d’Or a few doors down from Mon Petit Choux (mon petit chou), which, despite its copper name, is actually a clothing store.

“The French style of cooking has always been popular,” said Andrew Becher, managing director of Franca Brasserie, which opened further along Rue Macleay in what is considered the “end of Paris”. from Kings Cross in July 2019. “Many other cultures are influenced. by French cuisine.

“People are also more and more interested in sophisticated cooking, with the growing popularity of cooking shows, and now they love all the great looking food on the internet and social media. With strong visuals of the restaurant, it allowed us to flourish too.

Without a doubt, the French atmosphere of the place is also an illusion, with the impression, as soon as you walk through the door, of being in a large, lively French gastronomic brasserie. It’s good that it works too; Becher signed a 20-year lease on the immense space as a gesture of his faith.

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Artisanal cheeses are accompanied by French wines at the Petit Louvre.

But does size really matter? Around the corner, the owner of the Petit Louvre says no. Frenchman Christian Estebe operates his French cheese palace from a small space on Springfield Avenue, with prints of François Boucher paintings on the ceilings and walls, rugs on the floor, velvet curtains on the door and an incredible selection of handmade French cheese varietals. dating as far back as 2BC.

“People love the story associated with my cheeses,” Estebe said. “All of my products are handcrafted and all of them – with one exception – have over 300 years of history, as they’ve all been around since that time. It is impossible to find anything of this complexity and simplicity elsewhere.

Estebe offers cheeses to take away or to taste on site, with platters accompanied by wines from the same region, as well as many other homemade delicacies. Among the choices of cheeses, a count aged in a fort dating from Napoleon and a goat cheese, the Sainte Maure de Touraine, so creamy that it flows with the customer.

The French Revolution at Kings Cross was not, however, completely successful. A few of their compatriots have been biting the dust lately, including their common grandfather, Restaurant Mère Catherine, who announced goodbye in 2019 after 45 years of preparing French onion soup and the Metisse gastronomic space, now empty. And neither, after having dined on refined French cuisine, Francophiles cannot end their evening at the Moulin Rouge club either. This too is faded away.

During this revolution, the queen of France Marie-Antoinette would have shouted: “Let them eat cake!” and it is not a problem at the Cross either.

Fancy an eclair, a pancake, a traditional French pastry, a croissant, a galette or even a real baguette? Try the Café de la Fontaine, a little corner of Paris where Macleay Street meets Darlinghurst Road, opposite the famous Kings Cross Fountain, which opened in March of last year.

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Customers can be taken to another continent at Café de la Fontaine.

“I think during COVID-19 in particular, it was nice to have something that is so reminiscent of being elsewhere,” said Stephanie Onisforou, co-owner of the cafe decorated with French antiques and featuring a miniature Eiffel Tower. outside.

“It’s a pure escape, plus you can have a beautifully authentic eclair or pastry and be in a place you remember or dream of going. French cuisine is so classic, and we always come back to classic dishes.

The cafe hopes to have an approved liquor license, so by December it will open later for wine and cheese or a pancake.

Last February, Bistrot 916 on avenue Challis opened its doors, on the site of the old Lotus. Dan Pepperell, of the town’s Gallic Hubert Restaurant icon, has a menu that includes a chicken liver parfait, pepper steak and pasta snails.

“Maybe it’s back in fashion and maybe it’s because of COVID and the inability to travel to France, and maybe it’s just not common to cook French dishes at home, “he said. “It can be difficult.

“This district does us good because it has a very sophisticated clientele, sometimes a little older, who are interested in French cuisine. We sell a lot of offal, of which the brain is one of our best sellers.

Not discouraged by the competition, another Frenchman, Cyril Seguin, has just opened his Rustic French Bistro on Victoria Street, Potts Point, serving among other things homemade foie gras, duck confit, classic beef bourguignon and crème brûlée. .

“Why not?” he said. “I realize there are more here, but we are offering something different. These recipes were passed on to me by my grandmother, with traditional techniques and everything is homemade; something that I have been doing for 20 years around the world.

“People can want something simple, or at other fancy times, and here they can go back in history for both. And French cuisine is wonderful to sit back and enjoy, without the politics.

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