La Grande Bouffe
758 Darling Street, Rozelle, NSW
02 9818 4333
Named after a French film where four friends meet up in a villa with the express intention of eating themselves to death, La Grande Bouffe in Rozelle is all about enjoying one's food and hanging the consequences.
Not that the consequences will be as dire as in the movie; the French bistro food served here combines authentic, powerful tastes of provincial comfort food, with the fresh, local ingredients and the contemporary style that Sydney restaurants are becoming renowned for.
Owners, David and Meredith Poirier, chose a spacious corner on the quieter, southern end of the ever-popular Darling Street for their restaurant. As you walk in, the accents of the attentive waiting staff and the aromas coming from the kitchen tell you that this is no French ‘fancy’ – instead it is the authentic French dining experience.
The elegant interior, with its huge bi-fold windows, textured wallpaper, dark solid timber floors and subdued lighting contribute to the Parisian feel of the place; but it’s far from intimidating and the atmosphere is more cafe-casual, friendly and relaxed than you may expect.
From the finest seafood dishes, such as scallops with parsnip, boudin noir and muscatel jam, and juicy green apple oysters with salmon caviar, to the poultry dishes like roasted corn-fed chicken breast with chestnuts, and the heartier twice-cooked lamb shanks, pork belly, wagyu steaks and buttery classic dishes, the kitchen staff ensure that the tastes match the quality of the decor.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a degustation menu that can include wine, the 50-seater venue sees a steady flow of diners throughout the day. Breakfasts are helped by the excellent, traditional sweet and spiced tonka bean French toast and the fact that the coffee is roasted on premises and always very fresh (you can even buy some beans to take home with you); one of the specialities is the pan-fried Croque Madame served with a duck egg and with plenty of Gruyere and ham.
Bouffer is French slang for “excessive eating” and it’s true that most of the dishes served here are not going to be on weight watchers’ menus. But there are healthy options at La Grande Bouffe, where instead of the lamb you can choose the ashed goats cheese and beetroot salad or the smoked salmon, radish and avocado tartin, and instead of a wine or beer, you can opt for one of the fresh, seasonal juices or a herbal tea.
A great location for one of the colder Sydney evenings in winter, when you want to warm yourself with some hearty bistro tastes from France, or for warmer days when you can park yourself by one of the windows and feel the breeze over a coffee, La Grande Bouffe has stood the test of time and can get busy. But if you decide to try it out, make sure you take your appetite with you.