French cuisine is always worth celebrating, but July 14 is when Sydney’s French restaurants really up their game. In 1789, July 14 was about storming the Bastille fortress, but today it’s about roaming cheese trolleys and French onion soup. We’ve compiled a list of where to find the best bespoke menus, fine wines and joie de vivre.
Head chefs Mark Williamson and Jon Trouillet have put together a four-course plat du jour menu only available on Friday July 14. The special menu has been designed to represent a tour of France with each dish embodying a different region. Williamson and Trouillet have also curated a selection of French wines to accompany each course, which in turn will celebrate both Australian flavours and French cooking traditions. Expect classics such as bouillabaisse. For dessert there’s rum baba, a small cake saturated in syrup made from rum and filled with pastry cream.
$140 per head, add matching wines $55
Frederic Colin of Bistrot Gavroche has penned a four-course Bastille Day menu which will be available from July 14 to 16. To start, there’s escargot with parsley and garlic butter or pate. Then you’ll have the choice between cauliflower veloute (a classic white sauce) with smoked trout, or a traditional French onion soup. Colin will also be serving a rich beef bourguignon alongside a bouillabaisse for the main course. To conclude the four-piece feast, choose between a platter of French cheeses or crepes Suzette.
Four courses for $95
If you’ve dined at Bistro Papillon, you’ll know that this intimate Clarence Street venue will be celebrating La Fête Nationale in a spectacular fashion. With a special menu on offer from July 13 to 15, you can expect a curated range of French classics from Burgundy snails and French onion soup to chicken-liver parfait with cured ham. There’s also pan-fried green prawns with a creamy Normande sauce. You’ll then be served Le Colonel, a traditional French palate cleanser made from lemon sorbet and vodka. With five main courses to choose from, we’d recommend the coq au vin – corn-fed chicken slow-cooked in red wine with smoked bacon, carrots, mushroom and thyme. It’s served with homemade spätzle pasta (a stodgy soft, egg noodle.) On the dessert front, you’ll have the option of creme brulee, caramelised-apple tart with rum-and-raisin ice-cream, profiteroles with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce, or a cheese plate served with pear chutney and organic sourdough.
Five courses for $105
Head chef Charlotte Gonzales-Poncet is putting on a special four-course menu to celebrate her French roots with bistro classics. Try French onion soup or cured gravlax to start, followed by rabbit-and-pork terrine with apricot and pistachio, charred bread, cornichons and Dijon mustard. There’s also a goat-cheese souffle, char-grilled quail or pot-roasted pipis. To follow you can choose between duck mille-feuille (yarrow) lasagna, crab taglioni or a witlof heart braised in a Beaumes de Venise wine base, which is served alongside a mignonette salad with caramelised mandarin and celeriac. For an extra $10 you can access the roaming cheese trolley. The optional paired wine list has been curated by sommelier Sophie Otton (ex-Rockpool Bar and Grill), which will transport you to the furthest regions of France – from a 2014 Verget Terres de Pierres chardonnay to a 2015 Chermette Les Griottes gamay.
Four courses for $75. Paired wines for an added $60, and cheese trolley access for an extra $10.
Celebrate the Fête Nationale with Merivale’s Felix and Ash Street Cellar. Both venues are transforming the bustling CBD laneway into a vibrant French affair. The week-long festival will see different regional specials daily. Champagne labels Ruinart, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot are also on board. Guests can sip on Ruinart Rosé all week long with $20 flutes or $120 bottles. For example, Monday takes you to the Perigord region, with a duck confit de canard with perigourdine sauce (black truffle, duck liver and wine) matched with a 2014 Château Tour des Gendres Classique Bergerac Rouge bottled in southwest France.
Tuesday offers a taste of Brittany, with a sailor-style mussel dish, moules marinere, served in a white-wine broth with garlic. This entree has been paired with a 2015 Domaine de L’Ecu Muscadet Sevre et Maine bottled in the Loire Valley.
The special daily menus continue through to Saturday, which adopts the province of Bordeaux.
Six courses for $180, add $70 for paired wines.
Ash Street Cellar
Just down the lane, duck into Ash Street Cellar for more. On Monday you can order a beef cheek served with red-wine jus, bone marrow, pistou and Lyonnaise potato galette. Tuesday offers a tempting confit duck with le puy lentils, glazed Brussel sprouts and sauternes currents. On Wednesday indulge in a traditional bouillabaisse with rouille. Thursday has baked le conquant Camembert with roasted grapes and organic walnut bread. In conjunction with Friday's main event over at Felix, Ash Street Cellar will be serving a traditional French charcuterie, definitely not one to miss.
For dessert, head over to Lorraine's Patisserie for a toffee-vanilla choux puff, a classic choux-puff pastry filled with vanilla cream and glazed in toffee.
Over in Paddington you can enjoy a French feast cooked directly from the fireplace at Fred’s. Head chef Danielle Alvarez has curated a decadent spread. Wines have been sourced by Grand Cru wines from classic French appellations.
$150 for food and wine pairing.
The Chicken Shop
Offering a French twist to its usual day-to-day operations, The Chicken Shop is offering a brie-and-black-truffle baguette, alongside the comte-and-glazed-ham baguette. Roquefort, Perigord and Nicoise style salads will be available all week.
(These specials will also be available through Deliveroo.)
Bronte Road Bistro
The Bronte Road Bistro is hosting a winter-special Spit Night on July 12. Here you’ll find an assortment of locally sourced Iggy’s Bread, seasonal soup, and heritage, dry-aged beef with roast vegetables and a cabbage salad.
LoLuk Bistro in Darlinghurst is offering an intimate Bastille Day experience on both Friday and Saturday (July 14 and 15). The three-course feast will start with the option of a classic French onion soup, a double-cheese souffle with blue cheese and salad, or a homemade pate with pickles and toast. The mains on offer are daube Provençale with creamy polenta and parmesan; a fish of the day with seasonal vegetables; or a slow-cooked lamb shank with ratatouille. For dessert choose between a red-fruit tiramisu, a lemon meringue pie, or a chocolate mousse with homemade Chantilly.
$85 for three courses and a glass of LoLuk sparkling wine