Bistrot Gavroche is all about “hearty, rustic French food”. It’s the new French kid on the block at Chippendale’s expanding food epicentre Kensington Street Dining Precinct, located on the first level of the Old Rum Store. Look for the glass entranceway and follow the red arrows up the stairs or through the lift to level 1.
Gavroche you might recall from Les Misérables, was the oldest son of Monsieur and Madame Thénardier he fended for himself on the streets and later joined the revolution. In France the name is now often synonymous with ‘street urchin’. Though when you step inside Bistrot Gavroche, it’s as homely as a Parisian bistro. there are soft padded long booths with cosy corner seatings, or white table-clothed tables with antique looking wooden Thonet chairs. And best of all a wall of well-stocked, well-lit long bar and four full height wine fridges.
I’ve mentioned I’m a fan of steak tartare. I often conspicuously invite my friends out to dine solely so I can suggest a new restaurant with steak tartare on the menu. The French food trifecta for me is, entrée of Soupe à L’Oignon au Gratinée [French onion soup], Tartare de boeuf [steak tartare] followed by Crêpes Suzette [thin pancakes with a sweet alcoholic orange sauce].
Bistrot Gavroche has them all, plus a few extras for the bonus round. My dinner date and I opted to share our meals and straight away I’d picked a good 70% of our food. Dinner Date graciously went along with my suggestions and added Tartine d’os à Moëlle [Bone marrow on sourdough bread with garlic confit and parsley] and Quenelles de brochet sauce Nantua [Grandpa Henri’s pike fish quenelles with crayfish sauce].
The wine menu is more manageable than the A3-sized wooden framed and glass covered food menus. Their wines by the glass are around $17-20. General Manager, Co-owner and Sommelier Lionel Richard has created a broad offering of French and Australian wines with bottles ranging from $50-80 and upwards for some fine vintages.
Whilst we made our dining selections we were presented with a mini metal pail of their savoury cheese puff balls to munch on. It’s a perfect snack to pop in your mouth whilst your dinner date is distracted with the menu. We started with the warm Tartine d’os à Moëlle ($20). These chunky globs of marrow are too strong for my narrow palate and Dinner Date prefers them in the bone and without much toast.
I kept trying to sear my mouth on the Soupe à L’Oignon ($16). The soup is grilled in the serving bowl so the cheese melts on the warm soup-soaked croutons floating at the top and it is very hot and very delicious.
Before training in three-star Michelin French restaurants, Executive Chef Frédéric Colin, was taught his trade from the tender age of ten by his Grand-Péré Henri (Grandpa Henry) in Paris. The recipe for this soup was passed down from his grandfather’s teaching and is kindly written up on postcards available at the door.
Being worried about sharing, I ordered the main size Tatare de boeuf Angus au couteau ($32). The entrée size would have been more than enough. We topped it with one of the cutest tiny bottles of Tabasco I’d ever seen and a couple extra pinches of salt. I liked it. I was full by the time our shared main arrived, however it smelt too good to resist. The Quenelles de brochet sauce Nantua ($36) were a light doughy shaped spoonfuls of creamed pike with the crayfish sauce and went well with our side of Gratin de chou-fleur ($8) [cauliflower gratin].
I engaged my second stomach for the Crêpes Suzette. Desert arrived with the crepes plated and a pot of the sauce that our waitperson heats directly with a flame and then sets alight! The blue-flamed sauce is then poured over our crêpes. They were fresh with a subtle hint of the Grand Marnier and the traditional strings of orange zest. Dinner Date amiably offered to create a distraction so I could lick the plate, but I managed to have the crêpes sop up all the sauce without his help.
I still want to go back to try their Vacherin Glacé aux Fruits Rouges (meringue vacherine with red fruits – meringue, fruit and cream) desert which I’ve heard good things about. But that will have to wait till another dinner. One dish you need to dine in and taste is their Escargots de Bourgogne au buerre d’ail. Burgundy escargots (snails) baked in their shell with parsley and garlic butter – imagine garlic prawns but on a whole other level!
What: Bistrot Gavroche
Where: Level 1, 2-10 Kensington street, Chippendale
Monday – Sunday: 11.30 am – 2.30 pm and 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Sunday: 11.30 am – 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm – 9.30 pm
Join the conversation: @bistrotgavroche #bistrotgavroche