When you finish your steak frites and the waiter asks if you want to see the day’s selection of pastries, say “yes”. A cart will be rolled out, and on it will be chocolate mousse, chocolate tarts, mille-feuille, lemon tarts and Paris-Brests. All of which will be from the kitchen of Guillaume Brahimi.
The lauded French-born chef, who runs Paddington fine diner Guillaume, will occasionally be the one behind the trolley (as well as a cheese cart) in his new CBD restaurant. “I always wanted to open a bistro in Sydney. In Paris you have a bistro on every corner of the street. It's a way to live.”
There are also Bistro Guillaumes in Melbourne and Perth. Like its sister restaurants, the Sydney version will offer what Brahimi calls classic French dining. “We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we take the cooking very seriously in the way of respect for produce and respect for recipes,” he says. Classics found at all three bistros are French onion soup, steak tartare, twice-baked soufflé, whole roast chickens, and cote de boeuf with béarnaise sauce.
What’s new at the Sydney version are the aforementioned carts (there's also a takeaway counter so you can pop in and buy a cake throughout the day); a lamb pithivier (a buttery pie); whiting with fried potatoes and butter; enomatic wines (preserved after opening); and a breakfast menu. The latter is probably the least French part of the experience. It’s more representative of what most city workers will be demanding – muesli, avo on toast (from Iggy’s), and eggs done every which way. The most exciting is the scrambled eggs with fresh truffles, or try the omelette with smoked ham and gruyere.
The design is by Blainey North. “All the restaurants are Parisian bistros, but this one is completely different,” Brahimi says. “It was very important to match the beautiful lobby we're in.” He points to the marble interiors, which match the lobby’s walls, and to the dark wooden panelling and timber flooring which flow with the colour palette.
Bistro Guillaume 259 George Street, Sydney (inside the Suncorp building lobby) (02) 8622 9555
Hours: Mon to Fri 7am–10.30am, 11.45am–3pm, 5pm–8pm Sat 5pm–8pm