The sun, surf and sand of Bondi might feel a long way from the centuries-old buildings and cobbled laneways of Paris. But the suburb has a penchant for all things French – just look to Chouchou, a beachside gem inspired by the neighbourhood eateries of Paris, the hometown of owner and artist Arthur Gruselle.
The menu here focuses on traditional, unfussy French fare. A favourite is the croque madame, and a classic French bistro dish of beef tartare with pommes frites (French fries) on the side. For groups, the raclette is a winner. A mini fondue pot arrives at the table, lit by a burner and surrounded by vegetables, cured meats and bread all ready for dipping into the melted cheese.
When it came to putting together the wine list, Gruselle assembled a range of French, Australian and New Zealand wines to pair with the food menu. There’s also a seaside-inspired cocktail list, which includes a cognac-spiked French take on the Margarita.
In designing a welcoming, intimate space, Gruselle went for sea-green and emerald walls, brightened by blond hardwood tables and a mix of bentwood and rattan seating, indoors and out. Dried flowers hang from the ceiling, while the walls are decked with vintage prints from Paris, as well as Gruselle’s original artworks. On the stereo is an eclectic selection of French music, from Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg to ’90s rap and hip-hop.
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