Frederic Colin is the co-owner and chef of Bistrot Gavroche, a quintessentially French restaurant that until now was only open in Singapore.
The second Bistrot Gavroche has just opened in what’s becoming one of Sydney most competitive and desirable eating streets, Kensington Street. “I fell in love with this street,” says Colin. He was invited by chairman of Frasers Property Australia, Dr. Stanley Quek, who bought every building on Kensington Street in 2007 with a vision to transform it. “The dining scene [in Sydney] is very vibrant. I've only been here for a year, but I can see it. I can feel it, the energy is here.”
Bistrot Gavroche is a bit different in approach to the new-wave fine diners in Chippendale. Where Automata, Kensington Street Social and Silvereye in neighbouring The Old Clare Hotel have delicate share plates and spaces with an industrial design aesthetic and Scandinavian furniture, Bistrot Gavroche has imported antique French furniture and the kind of classic French cuisine that was once very popular in Sydney. “I’m a French guy born and raised in Paris, my grandfather was a chef, my father ran a restaurant,” says Colin.
The entire restaurant – from the food and the music, to the furniture – is set up to recreate the same atmosphere that Colin experienced at his father and grandfather’s restaurants. “We always make sure we carry the heritage of French cuisine, my grandfather and Paris. It's important.”
On the menu there is pork terrine pies; steak frites with Béarnaise sauce; pike fish quenelles; parsley- and garlic-butter Burgundy snails; and Colin’s grandpa’s French-onion soup. “He used to work in a place called Les Halles, it was the big market in France in the 1960s. You have thousands of suppliers coming in,” says Colin. “My grandfather catered for those guys. A thousand onion soups every night. They were working in a tiny kitchen only doing onion soup.”
The only thing that veers from traditional Parisian tradition is the wine list. There is a large selection of regional French bottles, but there’s also an equally long list of new-wave Australian wines. “The French selection is very classical, but for the Australian wine we are doing something a bit different. We are playing more with the Australian wines,” says co-owner and sommelier Lionel Richard. That includes two exclusive wines from Domenica’s Peter Graham. “I've been over there to make a special brand just dedicated for the restaurant. A shiraz and a chardonnay,” says Richard.