Walking into Bistrot Gavroche is like stepping onto the set of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Co-owner/sommelier Lionel Richard scoured the antique markets and garage sales in France to decorate his first venture in Australia. So take note as you arrive – the three-metre-high oak entrance once decorated the front door of one of Lyon’s most iconic restaurants, Brasserie Georges.
Inside, as chicly dressed, smiling staff go about their business, Richard’s romance with French antiques continues, whether it’s in form of pâte de verre lights or a 1950s VéloSoleX moped that hangs off the ceiling in one corner. And then, of course, there’s the music by jazz legends such as Michel Jonasz and Charles Trenet – enough to transport you to the bistros of Lyon.
Manning the kitchen is Richard’s business partner and chef Frederic Colin, whose menu harks back on traditional French fare. The pastry in the chicken liver, pork and black trumpet mushroom terrine is as thick as you’ll find it in Lyon, while the baked king crab doused in a delicate creamy mustard sauce as succulent as served in the beachside bistros of Marseille.
The menu breaks away from tradition, too, and that’s probably where it’s least impressive. The deconstructed roasted quail served atop liver stuffing is a case in point.
The last course, however, restores our faith in the menu. Brimming with French classics such as tarte tatin and crêpe suzette – in all its flaming glory – the desserts alone make a visit to the restaurant completely worth it.
Location: Level 1, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale; +61 292 81 6668; bistrotgavroche.com.au
Atmosphere: Quintessential bistro, attracting hip young university crowd as well as glamorously turned-out couples
Open: Seven days for lunch and dinner
Big tick: The interior with exposed-brick walls and French antiques sprinkled throughout
Must-try: Crêpe suzette