Cafe Nice, Sydney

Cafe Nice

What do you get when you throw together good, wholesome French food in a casual bistro with water views and excellent table service?

You get a nice cafe, of course. In the case of my lunch with some lovely friends, it Cafe Nice (pronounced “niece” as in the French provencal city of Nice).

“We have to have the omelette, it’s really ooh la la!!” Fiona says.

“The bar menu is sooooooooooo worth it too!!” Eva enthusiastically adds.

“Well girls, I shall flirt with fate and put myself in your lovely hands today” I say with a grin.

Cafe Nice is a surprise addition to restaurateur Barry MacDonald‘s stable of Italian casual eateries all over Sydney that includes Cafe Sopra and green grocer Fratelli Fresh in Alexandria, Potts Point, Walsh Bay and Bridge street in the CBD, so likeable for its simple yet tasty pasta dishes.

The Italian-ness of Cafe Sopra is deliberately punctuated to the extent that owner Barry MacDonald concocts Italian names for his restaurant staff regardless of their nationality. Today in this French eatery, we have a charming waiter who hails from Argentina with a French-inspired name of ‘Sebastian’ (Cover image above).

His attentiveness and good-natured service eventually proves to be matched only by the beautiful flavours of the food.

Pate de foie de canard and toast $18

Pate de foie de canard and toast $18

Pate de foie canard is a thick slab of duck liver pate with pickled baby gherkins and crusty toast.

Rich and creamy with those unctuous, minerally and livery taste, this slab of duck liver pate on fresh toasted bread is good enough a starter for the four of us ~ what a perfect start to our Friday lunch!

Toast: Smoky, crisp yet soft ~ where the butter??

Toast: Smoky, crisp yet soft ~ where the butter??

I like the smoky aromas of the toasted bread and we order a second serve to help mop up that slab of duck liver pate.

Omelette de crabe with foie gras butter $24

Omelette de crabe with foie gras butter $24

I like the savoury flavours of an omelette de crab with foie gras butter. A round omelette bed is topped with chunks of tender crab meat with an enticing knob of foie gras butter melting away in the middle.

This is definitely a “go-to” dish that I would recommend from the menu.

Menabrea birra $8

Menabrea birra $8

It a beautiful Friday afternoon in Sydney and an icy cold Italian Menabrea birra brewed from barley malts and maize kernels is a light and refreshing lager.

Lovelies: Eva and Fiona

Lovelies: Eva and Fiona

What do they say? Good wine and good food always taste better when matched with great company. Today, we have all three.

Side of peas: $10

Side of peas: $10

I love peas especially in soups, stews and of course fried rice.

“Must have peas!!” Fiona says. “Peas wind back the clock on any dish for that retro look!”.

This side of peas is gently soft and I have not tried peas where their vibrant green has become olive in colour. I’m not complaining as it works with my steak.

Cafe Nice fruits de mer fris for two (Deep fried mixed seafood) $55

Cafe Nice fruits de mer fris for two (Deep fried mixed seafood) $55

The Cafe Nice fruits de mer fris for two come with battered fish fillets and school prawns.

My last experience with school prawns in a prominent Sydney Italian was utter disappointment. But not with this dish.

Cafe Nice fruits de mer fris for two (Deep fried mixed seafood) $55

Cafe Nice fruits de mer fris for two (Deep fried mixed seafood) $55

A battered fish fillet is light, crisp and  goes wonderfully well with mayonnaise and tartare sauce.

The school prawns is fresh and crispy, so tasty with those heads and little eyes staring at you before you pop them into your mouth.

This is white wine and beer food at its best, and so Sydney too, on a sunny day like this with the weekend looming.

2007 Copa Santa Domaine Lavel Languedoc $60

2007 Copa Santa Domaine Lavel Languedoc $60

A 2007 Copa Santa Domaine Clavel from the former Languedoc region of France is fermented for 18 months in French oak.

I detect spice and chocolate hints on the nose, velvety and round in the mouth with complex fruits and a lingering minty finish. A well-chosen bottle, Marcus.

Steak minute grille with red wine butter $26

Steak minute grille with red wine butter $26

The casual French bistro style has me pining for a minute steak with red wine butter. Not the most charming looking dish with a thin cut of beef and the red wine butter melting on the top but it does the job.

Steak minute grille with red wine butter

Steak minute grille with red wine butter

One can quite easily overcook a thin piece of steak but my minute steak is right on the mark with a nice pink tinge inside. This calls for some kitchen skills, good timing and a very hot grill.

The savoury red wine butter with some freshly cracked black pepper is hitting the right spots with each mouthful of red Copa Santa.

2007 Chaveliers De Lordre Saint-Emilion Grand Cru $50

2007 Chaveliers De Lordre Saint-Emilion Grand Cru $50

A 2007 Chaveliers De Loudre Grand Cru from the Saint-Emilion town of Bordeaux is predominantly merlot and cabernet franc.

Definitely fruit-driven with ripened dark berries undertones, this wine is drinking beautifully with a bit of age resulting in subtle tannins.

Duck confit with cabbage, chestnuts and quince $29

Duck confit with cabbage, chestnuts and quince $29

The golden brown and salty shard of duck confit is as French as it comes.

“This is one of my favourite dishes here” Fiona exclaims.

Noisy: Dining room at Cafe Nice

Noisy: Dining room at Cafe Nice

As good as the food is, be forewarned. It’s a sunny Friday afternoon and volume level in the dining room today is loud.

A mixture of tourists, locals and business types creates the buzzing vibe of a cafe in full lunch-time throttle.

Raspberry sorbet $6.50

Raspberry sorbet $6.50

Thanks to Eva and Fi for a great restaurant recommendation and I would certainly be back again. Thanks also to our wait person ‘Sebastian’ who truly epitomizes the perfect host with his warmth and care.

Cafe Nice, this guy is probably one of your greatest assets around the dining room. Apart from good food, we will be coming back for his excellence in service and hospitality.

Petit trois $6

Petit trois $6

Petit trois

Petit trois

Cafe Nice, Sydney

Cafe Nice, Sydney

A quick check on the website of Cafe Nice and they are already taking bookings for Melbourne Cup and Christmas.

Iconic and magnificent: Sydney Opera House

Iconic and magnificent: Sydney Opera House

It is definitely a great spot to be on these occasions let alone the short stroll that we took after our lunch to Sydney Opera House.

This is how I like to spend my Friday afternoons in Sydney.

So dear readers, do you have a favourite French cafe in Sydney?

Cafe Nice
2 Phillip street, Circular Quay East
Sydney, New South Wales

Tel: +61 2 8248 9600

Lunch Monday to Friday 12pm – 3pm Dinner Monday to Saturday 5pm – 10pm

Cafe Nice on Urbanspoon

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6 Responses to Cafe Nice, Sydney

  1. celia says:

    Wow, that seafood platter looks good! :)

  2. mr.C says:

    Great post Chopinand. Glad to see someone who’s as smitten over this place as much as I am. I really don’t get all the slamming with this place. I dunno maybe the place is inconsistent on other days but everything seemed perfect to me when I was there.

  3. Raymund says:

    That pate reminds me of the one I tried here in Auckland last month in a small French Cafe, love is creaminess, smoothness, saltiness yum!

  4. Juliana says:

    Oh! Everything looks so good…I better get myself some lunch…otherwise I will end up damaging the computer screen…
    Hope you are enjoying your week :D

  5. I must say the pricing for those dishes for French cuisine are cheaper than I expected, especially given it’s location.

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