French food can often get pigeonholed as a purely fine-dining experience. And while restaurateur Gary Prebble doesn’t shy away from serving delicate soufflés and crisp crème brûlées at Redfern’s Bistro St Jacques, his menu makes a strong case for French food that’s – first and foremost – comforting and hearty.
Take, for example, the Belted Galloway chuck steak (listed as Heritage Beef Special on the menu) from an organic farm in NSW’s Barrington Tops that’s cooked overnight in a cab merlot sauce, deepened with tomatoes and olives. Or, for that matter, the confit duck, which is laced with fennel and served on a bed of braised haricot beans.
Even the entrée of seared scallop – placed on a robustly flavoursome combination of mushrooms, onion, garlic and Cognac, and served with a white sauce enriched with gruyère cheese – is more comfort food than fancy.
Housed in a building dating back to the 1920s, the dining room features original pressed ceilings, with red chequered napkins giving it that distinct French-bistro vibe.
Amplify the mood with a delicate Chablis or a gutsy cab sav from Bordeaux – the wine list is loaded with small-batch French classics and modern iterations from Australia and New Zealand.
There’s a beautiful private dining room at the back for larger groups (maximum size 10) and if you’re a party of six or under, make the most of the $65 three-course deal, which – far from a set menu – allows the guests to pick and choose from the restaurant’s fairly large selection of dishes. Bon appetit!
Atmosphere: Relaxed, elegant
Best for: Big groups, small groups, date nights
Standout dish: Heritage Beef Special
Open: Wednesday-Sunday for dinner and Friday-Sunday for lunch
Address: 96 Pitt Street, Redfern (Sydney)
Phone number: +61 478 705 704