At a time when many establishments are trying to come up with something new, Loluk Bistro serves unapologetically classic French cuisine.
Co-owner Luc La Joye believes it’s what people want from a French restaurant in Sydney. “We try to keep it as authentic as possible,” he says in charmingly accented English. “Only French people working, French chef, all speaking French. Even when we answer the phone, we say ‘Loluk Bistro, bonjour’.”
Luc and his older brother and co-owner Loïc grew up in Nice, an idyllic beach town in the south of France. Although Loïc lives in Dubai, the pair is close, travelling and working together on Loluk Bistro and other business ventures.
The menu has influences from all over France, but the southern Provence region and Nice are best represented. Pissaladière is a traditional Niçoise snack. Anchovies are stacked on top of black olives and sweet caramelised onions on flatbread. At Loluk Bistro, it’s done on housemade focaccia that’s tasty and dense, almost like a corn bread.
Italian influences crop up occasionally, from the burrata in the tomato salad, to the duck breast served with gnocchi. “Nice is very close to Italy so it’s common to serve dishes from Italy,” says Luc.
For mains, Luc focuses on traditional food from all over France. The beef tartare is made from raw beef mixed with capers, tiny sliced pickles, finished with parmesan shavings and a balsamic reduction. It took some work to source all the right ingredients for a true French tartare, but Luc managed it.
Also classic are French desserts. Crème brulée is infused with lavender, a flower that’s ubiquitous in Provence. Profiteroles are served with vanilla ice-cream and hot chocolate sauce.
Loluk Bistro is in a sandstone cottage on Bourke Street. Beautiful light streams in the doors from the verandah, brightening the white and pale grey interiors of the front room.
The fit-out is Provençale but not provincial. Savvy shoppers might recognise the farmhouse-inspired white tables and cross-back chairs from IKEA, but in this venue farmhouse charm works well. An arched doorway through a sandstone wall leads to the bar area and more seating. Past the kitchen there’s a surprisingly big, shady courtyard with tables and a bread oven for making focaccia.
2/411 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
(02) 7900 6251
Tue to Wed 6pm–10pm
Thu to Sat 12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–10pm