Directory

BAROQUE BISTRO

Cuisine: French/Modern French

The gleaming copper bar and lighting of this classic French bistro reflect the opaque pink chairs, giving an overall rosy glow that contrasts with the stark, industrial textures with exposed ducts and brickwork of the heritage building. The outdoor terrace has lovely harbour views and is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. Starters may feature an exceptional ballotine of spatchcock with puy lentils and burnt onion cassonade, or hens’ eggs slow-cooked with Serrano ham and whipped potato, both $16. Mains such as grilled breast of duck $33 and confit shoulder of lamb with rosemary and lamb glaze $29 showcase classic bistro techniques. Pick up a selection of the now ubiquitous macaroons from Baroque’s patisserie on the way out. Baroque also offers a lunchtime plat du jour $25 with a glass of wine.

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CHEZ PASCAL

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French

A charming artwork of can-can dancers is the eye-catcher in this kitsch restaurant, upstaged only by the food. There’s also the ebullient personality of chef/owner Philippe Lebreux who, when he’s not mingling with diners, cooks textbook French. That’s to say, it’s kept within the parameters of tradition (note: icecream will not be served with your crepe Normande $15.50 because that’s not done in France). French onion soup $9.50 is richly flavoured and topped with a crispy baguette and melted gruyere cheese, while mains are meat focused and excellent value. You might be served a lemon sorbet palate cleanser before they arrive. Rack of lamb is roasted and finished in a mint and port wine sauce $21.50 or choose from the seasonal specials board. The food here harks back to an era when cooking was less about heart health and all about flavour.

 

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COCHIN

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Vietnamese,French/Modern French

You may feel you’re about to raid an ancient tomb as you step though the heavy metal-plated doors into Cochin. Luckily, though, the food is far from antiquated at this contemporary gem serving up Vietnamese cuisine with French-influenced flair. Appetisers include fresh staples such as prawn summer rolls $10, while mains demonstrate a full fusion of flavours and produce. Sumptuously moist duck $26 is a feature. You can have it four ways: tea-smoked with orange, prune and port sauce or braised in five spice are equally outstanding. Best value at Cochin is the Tuesday to Thursday banquet in which six courses are $30. Leave room for dessert: creme brulee, creme caramel and chocolate mousse $9 will have you saying oui oui.

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GRASSHOPPER

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Vietnamese,French/Modern French,French/Modern French

Sydney’s love affair with laneways is consummated in this idiosyncratic bar/restaurant, hidden down the end of an empty city alley. At night it hums with a low-key after-work crowd, in their element drinking from jam jars and mingling among op-shop-style decor. The menu upstairs is French-inspired, small and lacking in adjectives but is complex in flavour. Fish, crab and peas this night is pan-fried kingfish, juicy and towering on crab-infused potato smash, dotted with peas and basil $30. But start with a share plate — the Lancashire cheddar and onion tart $17.50 will distract you from contemplating why there are more lampshades than wines by the glass. Sweets entice but the cheese board $15–$26 with subtle-tasting Fourme d’Ambert bleu and pear is the perfect conclusion.
 

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ONDE

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Vietnamese,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French

Still one of the hippest places in the very hip hot spot of Darlinghurst, Onde offers wickedly delicious French bistro food that’s simple, generous and produce-driven. Chef Laif Etournaud changes the menu on a whim but there are a few dishes that are too in demand to ever replace: salt cod brandade $18 and duck liver pâté with cornichons and sourdough $17, for example. A grilled T-bone with chips and red wine butter $30 and duck confit with caramelised apple, walnuts and mesclun $30 are cult favourites, as is meringue with strawberries and cream $12. The no-bookings policy is as unwavering as ever but there’s a cosy bar on hand to help you pass the time.

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SEL ET POIVRE

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Vietnamese,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French

Former owner Francois Perchey still keeps an eye on things at this petite, family-run French bistro, albeit from the aspect of his portrait on the wall. Good to see son Daniel is still hitting the spot with traditional French fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Early birds can catch the pain au chocolat $5 or brioche French toast with strawberries and maple syrup $9.50. Come dinner time, look to the daily specials for the stand-out mains. Hope for rabbit with mustard sauce and mash $32 or stick to the regular menu’s tender braised boeuf cheeks with a sauce of bacon, cognac and port $25.90. Monday-night mussels with frites and a glass of white wine $23.90 are obligatory, as is the crisp ’n’ creamy creme brulee $13.90.

 

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VAMPS

Cuisine: French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Vietnamese,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,French/Modern French,Modern Australian

Combine contemporary cooking techniques with classic French culinary genius and a dash of oriental flavour served in a warm 70s-inspired setting and you’ve hit on the Vamps concept. It’s a multicultural adventure of the tastebuds that could begin with garlicky escargots au gratin $16.50 (one dozen) or Asian-influenced crevettes $16.75, an entree of crispy wonton pastry-covered prawns lathered in sweet mango and coriander coulis. Mains hail the classics such as duck in orange-flavoured liqueur $34.50 or seafood crepe drizzled with prawn bisque sauce $34.50. To end, try the divinely tongue-smacking lemon tart $14.50 with rich chocolate sorbet or, for a second hit of orange, crepes suzette $16.50. A three-course prix-fixe menu is available at $48 per person.

 

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