The classic Parisian bistro is a salon painted claret red with dark-timber furnishings set off by soft amber light. Served inside is traditional, French, home-style cooking – escargot, baguette and flowing Bordeaux. These classic bistros dot the street corners of Paris, standing as historic, visual and culinary representations of the city. While a real French bistro experience might not be practical for tonight’s meal, Bistro Papillon on Clarence Street in Sydney’s CBD is serving a nearby and truly authentic alternative.

Upon arrival, French-speaking floor staff offers traditional aperitifs – kir royale is champagne with a dash of blackcurrant flavoured crème de cassis, while dubonnet is a sweet blend of fortified wine, herbs and spices. Entrèes and plats (main courses) are strictly traditional, warm and hearty. Start with French onion soup with Gruyère cheese croutons, and move on to coq au vin or confit de canard. Lesser-known staples also appear – a rabbit and walnut terrine, and Brittany-style mussels cooked in cider and cream. Snails are a rotating special if you dare, and classic crème brûlée for desert is creamy and rich.

Sip on Côtes du Rhone, or something a little more earthy and light, such as Beaujolais. A set of imported cheeses includes a blue from the Auvergne region and a Camembert style from Pay d’Auge in Normandy.

Reminisce about a recent trip, embrace your inner Francophile and sample original French fare under the glow of what is a very accurate bistro imagining.

98 Clarence Street, Sydney
(02) 9262 2402

Mon to Fri lunch and dinner
Sat dinner