Are you looking for the best French restaurants in Sydney? Look no further because we have compiled a list of the top spots that will tantalize your taste buds. These establishments will have you feeling like you're dining in France, from classic bistros to trendy Parisian-style eateries. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your gastronomical adventure today!
Are you looking for a great French restaurant in Sydney? Whether you're after a romantic dinner, something special for a celebration or just want to enjoy some truly amazing food, these restaurants are sure to please. There's something for everyone here, from classic French dishes to modern twists on old favourites. So why not check out one of these superb French restaurants today? Bon appétit!
The Best French Restaurants In Sydney Right Now
Ah, France. The land of mimes, baguettes, and specific types of alcoholic beverages no one else is allowed to make. They’re the only country to have trademarked a type of kissing, and their somewhat elitist attitude to excellent cuisine is legendary.
The French don’t have a strong immigrant culture, with many preferring to stay within the borders of their own country. But, much like Australia or America, they too have it all. From superb beaches, stunning mountain ranges, dynamic, bustling cities, and a highly refined food and wine culture, the rest of the world doesn’t offer them much that they cannot get at home.
Instead, they export culture. French anything is considered to be the pinnacle of quality and craftsmanship, and their way of life is the envy of the rest of us. Fresh bread every morning, coffee and pastries all day long, and drinking world-class wine late into the evenings. We aspire to do it how they do it in France.
As a result, the Aussie French scene isn’t as big as our Italian or Chinese offerings. That seems to be changing, though, as a spate of new openings across the city appears to be setting us up for a bit of a Francophile revival. From crepes to steak frites, escargot, and coq au vin, Sydney’s French ex-pats and French-inspired chefs have brought us the best of what the country has to offer, and we’re here to lap it all up.
Over the bridge in pretty Lavender Bay, Loulou is the latest addition to Sydney's neat collection of French-inspired eateries. Part boulangerie, bistro, and traiteur, there's a lot going on at this triple act all-day eatery, and it's well worth visiting for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Begin your day at the boulangerie, led by head baker Brendon Woodward (ex-Chouquette Boulangerie, Bread Ahead Bakery London). Here, the team bakes four times a day—yep, you read that right—four times a day. This means your baguette will be ultra-fresh no matter what time of day you drop in.
Alongside the boulangerie is Loulou's traiteur. A lot like a deli, here French-born butcher and chef Cyprien Picard (ex-Victor Churchill) is in charge. Shop classic French-style charcuterie like saucisson sec, Toulouse sausage, country terrine, and chicken liver parfait sliced to your liking.
Finally, Loulou's sprawling bistro, helmed by Billy Hannigan (ex-Bistro Guillaume and Michelin-starred The Ledbury London), offers up French classics, but a little lighter than their more-traditional counterparts. There's a caviar service for lunch and dinner if you're feeling fancy, hand-cut steak tartare and potato crisps, chicken liver parfait served with warm brioche, a classic steak frites, and, for dessert, apricot mille-feuille or rhubarb soufflé.
Porcine is named after the French word for “pig-like”, and, as you might have guessed, pork is the name of the game here. Owner and head chef Nicholas Hill and Harry Levy have converted the old Micky’s cafe on Oxford Street into a swanky wood-panelled affair, and, with their stripes earned at hatted and Michelin Star restaurants in Sydney and London, it’s clear they mean business.
Each fortnight an entire pig is delivered to the restaurant, and every single part of it is used to create ham, pork spreads, and, of course, pork chops. It’s a heavily carnivorous affair, though there are vegetarian options. The bistro offers BYO and is situated in prime position above P&V Paddington, a bottle shop peddling the best natural and minimal intervention wines around, so you’ve got plenty to choose from. Or have the team here recommend something from their strong selection of French tipples.
Bistro St Jacques
The little red bistro on Pitt Street in Redfern has been serving its loyal clientele a beautiful selection of unpretentious, honest delicacies for the past nine years. Bistro St Jacques is another entry in the “timeless” French bistro experience with lighter finishes to the traditional classic French techniques. Their Southern French-inspired menu means less butter and cream and more olive oil, seafood, and fresh vegetables.
It’s all about creating “food that people go back to time and time again,” owner Gary Prebble tells us. Since the beginning, the seared scallops with mushroom duxelle and gruyere cheese have been a firm favourite. In addition, they offer a good selection of natural, low-intervention, and organic wines. French cuisine is famously unfriendly to herbivores however, Bistro St Jacques also offers a vegan degustation.
Felix is pretty much the closest thing you can get to being in France without getting your passport out. Surrounded by shelves of wine and under the glow of French-imported chandeliers, you can select your meal from the iced-up fresh seafood bar that serves as the main attraction to the venue. It’s Merivales take on French luxury and offers extravagant dishes like whole rock lobster, côte de boeuf, and two kinds of caviar. Next door is Little Felix, a Parisian-style speakeasy specialising in roaring 20s inspired cocktails and indulgences.
If you're a bit of a restaurant nerd, you might already know that Felix takes some of its cues from New York brasserie to the stars, Balthazar itself a homage to the classic Parisian bistro. And if you're not, who cares? It's all about the atmosphere, and Felix has captured it perfectly, from the floor-to-ceiling tile work (including some saucy frescoes, if you look up) to the bentwood chairs and polished brass.
The big difference at Felix is the quality of the talent. Chef Lauren Murdoch, for instance, could take down anyone working in the Balthazar kitchens with her eyes closed. Her menu of bistro classics is, in true Murdoch style, deceptively simple but for the most part, beautifully executed. Take her long, thin, tender slices of tripe slow-cooked with buttery onions: it's the spag bol of offal with its sticky richness.
And how about a big beefy amen for the flank steak? Here, it's sliced across the grain and smothered in herb butter with a big pile of golden chips. A salad of poached egg, frisee and duck liver is only slightly let down by the liver being a little overcooked. On the floor, there's Ash Street Cellar star Teneille Scurrah plus third-generation French waiter Mathieu Mozzicanacci, fresh from NYC's Restaurant Daniel. Mozzicanacci, the triple-threat armed with a waiter's friend, has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants since he was 16.
Felix also features one of the most beautiful bistro-style bars to have appeared since the Bayswater Brasserie met its end last year. And it's at this bar where you'll want to be drinking a bone-dry Martini while eating your colossal Reuben sandwich - rich, salty corned beef on rye with pickled cabbage and a gigantic pile of pickles. And just because you can't keep us away from that bar (or, indeed, that sandwich), we'll be heading back to order a Bloody Mary, served here with a splash of port.
Restaurant years are like dogs years, so venues like this quiet, unassuming French bistro at the well-tailored end of CBD anywhere basically qualifies for long service. For the last eight years, Bistro Papillon’s owners, Xavier Huitorel and Ludovic Geyer keep things simple – but extravagantly French — with both the menu and decor at this solid 40-seater.
On a Friday night, the timber-clad dining room is packed with chatty nine-to-fivers and after-work couples nursing a glass of wine (all $15) in the dim, burnt orange glow. Walls are covered with framed vintage posters, and bottles of liqueur stand ready at the counter, should the waiter’s accent persuade you that a sticky, blackcurrant-spiked kir royale ($24) is a sensible place to start.
It’s fair to say that this is not a place for the vegos in your life unless they’re content with a solitary earthy mushroom and winter vegetable risotto (so retro), or an entree of onion soup, which you will probably steal from them once you’ve tried the seven-hour simmer of caramelised onion to an intensely sweet, smoky broth. Dunk the salty, crisp-edged gruyere croutons
An entree of grass-fed Tasmanian beef tartare for omnivores has the right amount of tang and richness. A rosy disc of handcut fillets comes dressed with lemon juice, tabasco, vinegar, and homemade mayonnaise. There’s no raw egg yolk or dijon mustard — but the creaminess of the mayo brings out a sweetness in the beef. It's an unconventional twist that works mixed with the crunch of shallots and capers. Pair this with a ripe, gently spicy 2015 Chanson Bourgogne pinot noir.
Mains are the culinary equivalent of a Le Chat Noir poster: a best-of line-up with duck cassoulet with Toulouse sausage, a sticky boeuf Bourguignon and a Joy of French Cooking-era chicken and mushroom vol au vent. We go for a cassolette de fruits de mer — a seafood spin-off from the heavier duck and bean stew. Chunks of just-cooked barramundi and plump mussels with spicy chorizo discs give this dish a Mediterranean makeover. Only the potatoes could’ve used more time in the tomato broth.
Hubert’s grand wooden front door and cavernous interiors make you walk into a vintage speak-easy. But this places offers so much more than just a hidden underground parlour. Seven rooms include two bars, dining rooms and a somewhat unexpected old-school theatre, used for talks, masterclasses and private functions. All spaces follow a similar theme, reflecting postwar France, with low ceilings, dim lighting and dark, worn timber chairs and tables.
A tattered grand piano sits on a low stage among diners in the Beatrix Dining Room, and deep-red leather booths are the main focus of the Chester Lounge. Upstairs, a collection of nearly 4000 miniature spirit bottles lines the stairwell; and Bar Normandy displays an enormous wall of wine. There are no windows. Instead, dozens of vintage prints crowd the walls, adding to the intimate and exclusive feel.
As for the menu, expect updated French classics such as roasted snails in XO sauce, Wagyu tartare with classic condiments, and Wollemi Duck a l’Orange. There’s also a grill section involving steaks from formidable names in beef, plus a selection of raw seafood and French charcuterie. Desserts range from crème caramel to soufflé.
Live jazz in the main dining room is a permanent fixture. As you sip on Martinis to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, sooner or later, you’ll forget it’s the 21st century.
Macleay St Bistro
A Potts Point fixture, Macleay St Bistro, has been around for over 30 years, an impressive feat in a city with some serious hospitality casualties. Well entrenched in its ‘Paris End’ position on Macleay Street, its continuing popularity has withstood changes in chefs, owners and even the GFC- so they have to be doing something right.
Current owners and Potts Point locals, Mark Campbell and Phillip Fikkers, are maintaining the Bistro’s classic dining experience, focusing on first-class, fresh local produce and a seasonal menu and offering a unique organic biodynamic wine list.
Head chef Tom Williams (previously seen at Bambini Trust and Tetsuya’s) is turning out dishes that might include free-range Riverina lamb back strap, the much-loved classic style steak tartare, or pan-fried salmon with courgettes and asparagus, bringing together classic French and Contemporary Australian dining. The sophisticated interior has had a soft refurbishment with French and marble touches and lends itself to relaxed dining.
With its distinctive stately exterior, this is one Potts Point institution that won’t be going anywhere.
Chez Maurice Et Linda
Not many people know about this Balgowlah icon, so consider Chez Maurice et Linda somewhat of a well-kept secret. However, those who do know it are fiercely loyal to the icon of French classicism, which focuses on classics done exceptionally well.
Start a French feast at Chez Maurice with some of that deep-fried camembert served with raspberry sauce, a few of those snails with garlic butter, and the scallops in mornay sauce baked with cheese. You could almost get away with skipping mains entirely, but be sure to save stomach space for that black pepper steak or the signature braised duck in orange and Grand Marnier sauce.
L’Heritage may be new, but this cosy harbourside French restaurant is putting up some strong competition for Sydney’s favourite French restaurant. A heritage 1980s Army Drill Hall in Mosman’s Chowder Bay has been zhuzhed into an intimate restaurant that couldn’t be more perfect for a special occasion or date night.
That French flair spills over to the classically-minded food on offer, paired with beautiful French wines and dishes like a signature bouillabaisse loaded with mussels, prawns, salmon, pink ling, potatoes, croutons and a defining saffron aioli, or a
crispy skin duck breast rose with Paris mash, roasted carrots, and orange duck jus.
Is there a French restaurant in Sydney as reliable as Bistro Moncur? Bistro Rex comes close and might even beat the dining institution on occasion, but there’s a strong case for this Woollahra staple being the best French restaurant Sydney has ever witnessed.
Since its first opening in 1993, the bright, charismatic dining room has been heaving with heavy, more indulgent French flavours, blended with a wider European influence spanning dishes like potato & ricotta gnocchi, and saffron crab omelette, and tuna tartare. It’s somewhere you’ll want to return to so you can try the entire menu, but you’d be forgiven for always ordering the faultless prime fillet steak served with steak béarnaise. Perfection guaranteed.
While many establishments are trying to come up with something new, Loluk Bistro serves unapologetically classic French cuisine.
Owners Luc La Joye and his older brother Loïc grew up in Nice, an idyllic beach town in the south of France. Although Loïc lives in Dubai, the pair is close, travelling and working together on Loluk Bistro and other business ventures.
The menu has influences from all over France, but the southern Provence region and Nice are best represented. Pissaladière is a traditional Niçoise snack. Anchovies are stacked on top of black olives and sweet caramelised onions on flatbread. At Loluk Bistro, it’s done on housemade focaccia that’s tasty and dense, almost like a corn bread.
For mains, Luc focuses on traditional food from all over France. For example, the beef tartare is made from raw beef mixed with capers, tiny sliced pickles, finished with parmesan shavings and a balsamic reduction. It took some work to source all the right ingredients for a true French tartare, but Luc managed it.
The desserts are also classic. Crème brûlée is infused with lavender, a flower that’s ubiquitous in Provence. Profiteroles are served with vanilla ice-cream and hot chocolate sauce.
The fit-out is Provençale but not provincial. Savvy shoppers might recognise the farmhouse-inspired white tables and cross-back chairs from IKEA, but in this venue, farmhouse charm works well. An arched doorway through a sandstone wall leads to the bar area and more seating. There’s a surprisingly big, shady courtyard with tables and a bread oven for making focaccia past the kitchen.
Franca’s name is derived from lingua franca, a word for a common language used by speakers of different native tongues that helps them bridge cultural divides.
Executive chef Alexis Besseau (Bathers’ Pavilion, Est) and sous chef Jose Saulog (Glass Brasserie, Tetsuya’s) have created a menu that reflects that idea: twisting and turning its way through regional France and nearby Mediterranean coastal havens such as parts of Italy.
A good example of that is the nicoise salad, here interpreted as yellow fin tuna sashimi dressed with a colatura (anchovy sauce) dressing, confit heirloom tomatoes and garnished with grated cured egg yolk and smoked paprika.
Staff in pale linen busy themselves as sunlight filters through lightly draped bay windows. Jazz fills the air as guests enjoy meals from velvet chairs surrounded by walls of art.
There’s a big vino list, about 200 wines from Australia, New Zealand and France’s key regions, including some interesting options from the Jura. Cocktails are by award-winning Alex Raclet (Rockpool Group, Pelicano). We like his Trocadero, made with Beefeater 24 gin infused with Earl Grey, Campari, Italicus Bergamot, lemon oil and garnished with basil.
Bistro Manly, a 90-seater beachfront venue on the Novotel Manly Pacific ground floor, serves up classic French food.
The lunch and dinner menus include prawn bisque with blue swimmer crab and rouille (a sauce with saffron and cayenne pepper); 120-day dry-aged beef sirloin with Café de Paris butter; confit duck leg with mushroom risotto; and a pork chop with roast vegetables and parsnip puree.
Seafood also features prominently on both menus. There’s yellowfin tuna niçoise, chilli prawn linguine, and snapper with a beurre blanc(white butter) and yuzu.
The lunch menu also has a “light” section featuring French favourites, such as croque monsieur, Wagyu flank steak frites, and a steak sandwich with Gruyere. Dessert doesn’t stray too far from typical French bistro fare, either. For example, there’s crème brûlée, apple tarte tatin, vanilla pecan, and strawberry bombe alaska.
Aperitif hour at Bistro Manly’s open-air courtyard is very civilised – perfect for snacking on charcuterie, cheese, crisp-fried school prawns and smoked-salmon pate. Much like the food, the wine list is a bit French and a bit Australian, ranging from a bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne to chardonnay from South Australia’s Shaw and Smith. A whisky cart can be rolled out if you’re after a nip.
Frequently Asked Questions About French Foods
French restaurants today are usually in one of three categories: the bistro, or brasserie, a simple, informal, and inexpensive establishment; the medium-priced restaurant; and the more elegant grand restaurant, where the most intricate dishes are executed and served in luxurious surroundings.
- Steak frites. Voila – this simple, yet impressive recipe is inspired by French bistro cuisine.
- Chicken confit.
- French onion soup.
- Salmon en papillote.
- Quiche Lorraine.
- Croque monsieur.
- Boeuf bourguignon.
The focus of its cuisine has been simplicity, developed as a reaction against medieval reliance on spices; instead of possessing a sharp or sugary taste, its dishes contained butter, herbs and sauces based on meat juices to create a rich, smooth flavour.
French Cuisine is a heavenly amalgamation of culture, tradition, sophistication and, perhaps above all, a love for food. The French look beyond the ingredients and techniques that go into creating a rich blend of flavors. It has to also be considered as a way of life.
Foods that are a staple of the French diet include full-fat cheese and yogurt, butter, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables (often grilled or sautéed), small portions of meat (more often fish or chicken than red meat), wine, and dark chocolate.