The Best French Restaurants in Sydney

Updated 2 weeks ago

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Most chefs start their training in classical French cooking, and for good reason: Gallic techniques are the cornerstone of modern cookery. In fact, we owe a lot of our culinary terms to the French. Chefs, sommeliers and maître d’s? All français. The same goes for the front- and back-of-house structures of modern restaurants, which originated in eighteenth-century Paris.

Sydney has no shortage of stellar French restaurants, with a notable showing at the Paris end of Potts Point. From brasseries and bistros to bastions of both haute and nouvelle cuisine, these are our favourites around town.

  • Hubert’s low ceilings, timber walls and candlelit tables feel like they’ve been there forever. And yet, this convincing riff on a grand European restaurant circa World War II only opened in 2016. Behind its extravagant facade is an unmatched reverence for classic hospitality and notably un-classic French food.

  • This neo-French bistro was the first of three venues from the trio behind Pellegrino 2000 and Clam Bar – and it’s still a knockout. Come for irreverent takes on classic bistro fare in a cool and understated space with a killer vinyl soundtrack.

  • Seafood towers and five types of steak frites are just some of the highlights at this stylish brasserie from the Franca team. Slide into a red leather banquette and admire the capacious dining room – or perhaps that perfect spiral of lemon peel floating in your Martini.

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  • “A French bistro above a bottle shop” sounds like a straightforward brief. But there’s nothing straightforward about this cosy inner-city restaurant. (Or the bottle shop for that matter.)

  • Under soaring ceilings in an art deco building, The Charles evokes Europe’s grand brasseries with plenty of thoughtful touches – including a roaming dessert trolley, and tableside saucing and carving. Order the whole dry-aged duck for a show-stopping signature.

  • A classic French brasserie experience from Merivale. The laneway setting already feels like a Parisian backstreet – but it’s the seafood platters and cote de boeuf that really take you there. You wouldn’t want to celebrate Bastille Day anywhere else.

  • This institution has been in business since 1993, deploying seasonal Australian produce across a menu of consistently excellent French fare. Likewise, the cellar is split between local and French drops – but it’s hard to look past the deep list of house Martinis.

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  • The menu at this opulent brasserie twists and turns its way through regional France and nearby Mediterranean coastal havens. The dining room matches the brief with art-lined walls, beautiful velvet furniture and jazz pumping through the speakers.

  • A bistro, bakery and deli serving up a slice of Parisian life north of the bridge. Pick up a coffee and kouign-amann in the morning, pop in for salade niçoise and chardonnay at lunch, and get a fresh baguette at any time of day.

  • Sophisticated yet accessible, Bistro Rex is a pillar of Potts Point’s French dining scene. It sticks mainly to Gallic standards, but the in-house nose-to-tail program and lengthy list of French and Australian wines sees this place punching well above its weight.

  • Steak frites is king at this two-storey French bistro in the heart of the city. But sophisticated Gallic standards are just one part of the picture – you'll also find a formidable wine list spanning Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhone Valley wine regions.

  • Built in 1896, this heritage-listed cottage is home to an exceptional bistro by an alumnus of Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most renowned chefs. Its bushland location – which is accessible by water limo – has incredible harbour views.

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  • From the haute menu right down to the ’50s-era French motorised bicycle strung from the ceiling, this bistro pays tribute to its Parisian counterparts with more swagger than most.

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  • From the duo behind Lola’s Level 1, this all-day brasserie is turning out a roll call of French classics including croque monsieur, steak frites and crab bisque souffle. Take a seat in the handsome dining room, or people-watch Parisian-style at a streetside table.

  • Steak tartare and confit duck plant this casual joint in French territory. But the occasional Mediterranean flourishes are a reminder that you’re in the eastern suburbs, where a bowl of pasta pomodoro is never far off – even at a French restaurant.

  • Loved for its raclette nights, this nostalgic spot might recall the bustling little joints you ate at on your last European holiday. But if you’ve never been to France, Papillon is where you can try the country’s cuisine in a very accurate reproduction of its candlelit dining rooms.

  • A convivial neighbourhood spot for nostalgic French dining. There's no pretension here, just homey Gallic standards backed up by a cracking list of French wines from Burgundy and beyond. Find this gem on a tree-lined inner-city backstreet.

  • Chez Crix is the Cricketer’s Arms’ cool little upstairs bistro. Head here for French-leaning fare such as LP’s saucisson with guindilla chillies or house-made chicken liver parfait with cornichons. For something bigger, order the classic steak frites with bordelaise.

  • After a loving revamp, this once grim pub is now home to a contemporary French restaurant serving up soufflé, spatchcock and premium Aussie steaks. But stuffy bistro this is not – on weekends, DJs pump tunes to keep the buzz up as guests dine.

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  • Formerly an oyster bar, this al fresco French diner evokes the Mediterranean with its unmatched harbour views and sterling seafood. It's got you covered for all occasions, from pre-theatre snacks to big-budget lobster and champagne dinners.

  • The owner of this cosy little French spot wants to bring the warmth of the Parisian bars and bistros he grew up with to the beach. Dine on French comfort food – including melty raclette and beef tartare with frites – as Edith Piaf is piped through the speakers.

  • The Novotel Manly’s all-day brasserie is the definition of a French-Australian restaurant. The canon of Gallic cuisine is reimagined with local produce, in a dining room overlooking one of Australia’s most iconic stretches of sand. It’s a winning combination.

  • An adored Rozelle pub has revamped its gaming room to make way for this casual French diner. Bistro classics are present and accounted for, and there’s a croissant washed Martini we can’t get enough of.