Mysaucepan is a devout fan of anything French. Actually she’s a Francophile if you will. Her heart swoons at the mere mention of Paris although I should also declare my heritage is anything but French.
So when I tell her about an invitation to the opening of a French cafe in Potts Point, she is visibly excited.
“Another French cafe in trendy Potts Point, what else is Sydney going to come up with?” she shrieks.
“Yes, so more croissants, pastries and sweetness for you my dear!” I tell her.
The love affair with French cuisine in Sydney continues with a Parisian style café opening on the famed Kellet street in Potts Point, just off the main drag in Kings Cross.
Kellet street has been and still is home to so many eclectic and colourful cafés that stay open into the early hours of the morning.
Café Boheme is the street’s newest addition, bringing fresh croissants, pastries and French classics to the locals.
House within one of Sydney’s charmed terraces with a sun-speckled courtyard, the food concept is simple – casual French bistro fare with the freshest ingredients.
Cordon Bleu-trained chef Darren Taylor, who was previously behind the burners at Buon Ricordo in Sydney’s east, brings 38 years of restaurant experience to Café Boheme.
“This casual French fare is very Sydney and we have priced it as moderately as possible” Darren tells a dining room full of journalists and invited guests today.
This is a rather sensible approach to French food considering the recent high profile collapse of Justin North’s French food empire in Sydney.
In my books, offering a menu that is popular and affordable in a trendy Sydney suburb with a sprinkling of sunny al fresco dining means half the battle’s already won.
The dining room is not overly big but being warm and cosy is what a French bistro is all about.
A range of olive oils, sauces and jams are also available for the enthusiastic home cook.
Darren tells us the premises next door has a catering kitchen that churns out a range of ready-cooked stews, soups and one-dish wonders which are conveniently vacuum packed for the appetite-rich and time-poor folks.
Sydney is blessed with many good delis and I believe that fresh bread, croissants and pastries baked daily are stuff that entice people through the doors.
The sight of a huge pile of Reuben bagels made of smoked beef brisket, red slaw and pickles is what a good café is all about.
It gives me a sense the food is fresh, wholesome and made with love.
I venture into the kitchen and Darren’s charcuterie platters are already assembled.
A charcuterie plate arrives with cold meat slices, cornichons, terrine and toasted bread.
To my mind, a plate of cold cuts require relatively little cooking skills and the taste of these meats is quite predictable. The ingenuity comes down to the chef’s imagination to combine flavous and textures.
Perhaps my expectations of a good charcuterie plate have been enchanted by a beautiful one I discovered whilst wine tasting in the Yarra valley recently. I believe the depth and flavour of this charcuterie plate could be much improved with some fresh rocket leaves, sweet jams such as caramelized apricots and a few savoury slices fromage blanc.
I like toasted breads but personally, it’s a mismatch with cold meats. I much prefer fresh sourdough slices with a few wicked slabs of salted French Lescure.
The combination of warm beetroot with goat cheese is a beautiful French classic. The candied walnuts add sweetness and crunch to this vibrant salad.
We love this salad at home in summer because it is such a simple yet tasty recipe. Mysaucepan‘s favourite variation is a beetroot with pinot noir jelly that showcases the Burgundian style of wine that France is so famous for.
A panzanella is vibrant with bold cuts of cucumber, celery, thinly sliced Spanish onions and shaved parmesan.
I have a love affair with these kind of summer salads because the torn bread is such a good mop for EVOO and white wine vinegar. This is a tastier and healthier version of a Ceasar without decandant bacon and poached eggs.
What can go wrong with a toasted panini with chargrilled vegetables, Brie and pesto? Absolutely nothing. Because the combination of crusty fresh bread, smoky charred vegetables and melting cheese needs no further explanation.
I will always choose a Croque Madame (cover image) that is topped with a fried egg over a Croque Monsieur that comes without the egg. Darren’s interpretation of this French classic hits all the right notes with light béchamel, shaved ham and melting gruyére.
Tasha’s ocean trout gravlax with dill cream cheese, rocket and capers is fresh and light. There is hardly a better taste sensation for salty slices of raw fish when paired with cream cheese and tangy little capers.
I’m a little fussy with the bread for my Reuben sandwich as I always prefer toasted rhy.
Called a “Rueben” of smoked brisket, red coleslaw and pickles on the menu, Darren’s version with a toasted bagel works quite well.
The unmistakable tang of sauerkraut may be missing but I can see why Iggy’s has raked up a reputation in Sydney for their breads. Layers upon layers of tender brisket, carrot, red cabbage slaw and pickles are brought to life by this fresh and crusty bagel. It is as much a star of the show as the meat that it holds.
We finish off with a dessert platter of Parisian Parmiers, rhubarb & frangipani tart, chocolates and Creme Brulee. It is a very Parisian, very French experience in very cosmopolitan Sydney.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite Reuben or French bistro in Sydney to share with us?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined as guests of Café Boheme courtesy of AC Agency. All views and opinions on this blog post are our own.
3 Kellet street, Potts Point
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9331 0102
Opening hours: Breakfast and lunch Mondays to Saturdays