cafe nice, circular quay

Ooh la la. The Fratelli Fresh teams’ new French restaurant is all systems are go at their Circular Quay venue.

Given I’m a regular to Café Sopra I’m feeling confident of a familiar experience with an easy shift from Italy to France. On a weekday lunch the room is filling nicely and the menu has a lengthy list of options that look inviting. But if I can start with the room.

Cafe Nice Neon Sign

Cafe Nice Neon Sign

I see what you’re doing here. With the French accents and the pretty pastels, but ‘hells bells’ I feel like I’m in some lousy American theme restaurant (ouch!). It’s a little distracting, but I can absolutely get past this. Particularly if I distract myself with the view of the bridge and the comings and goings of the trains into Circular Quay.So, back to the food.

My lunch companion and I have decided early on that the obvious place to start is the Poulet Rits for Two with Confit Garlic, Herbs, Carrots and Radishes ($55) so we are working backwards from that to decide on our starters.

With this in mind we decide to sample the Salt-Cod Frites with Roast Capsicum Vinaigarette ($20) and Aubergines with Mozzarella de Buffalo, Mint and Chilli ($18) as our starters.

The Salt-Cod Frites are fantastic. I love the heavy herbs with strong bursts of dill with every bite.

Salt-Cod Frites with Capsicum Sauce

Salt-Cod Frites with Capsicum Sauce

The Aubergines feels like a cheat because we seem to have headed back to Italy. When they arrive they look like they are going to be rich and oily, but the flavour is all light and lemony and beautiful.

Aubergine, Mozzarella & Mint

Aubergine, Mozzarella & Mint

Steaks look like a popular order for the lunchtime crowd with both a Minute Steak and Sirloin option available. The Minute Steak is a simple pan-fried but tasty piece of meat juicy and cooked to medium rare.

Minute Steak with Red Wine Butter

Minute Steak with Red Wine Butter

Without further ado the Poulet Rits arrives. Imagine the most moist juicy, plump, tasty chicken you can imagine – like you always try to create at home without success. Both generous and pretty this is one handsome serving of bird. Even the carrots are delicious in their simplicity and I am not sure how they do it, but am going to take a stab that it’s butter.

Poulet Rits with Carrots and Radish

Poulet Rits with Carrots and Radish

The chicken is going to leave a team of two pretty satisified but if you can squeeze in something sweet the Peaches & Sorbet ($14) to share is a good option. It’s generous so splitting is not going to get you into a scrap with the dessert spoons. There’s a little bit of ceremony thrown in for free with the waitress cutting up the fruit in front of you and swirling it around. It’s kind of motherly which reminds myself and my dining companion of our childhoods eating tinned peaches with ice-cream in front of the teev. I mean it’s better than that, but we did find it a little nostalgic.

Peaches & Sorbet

Peaches & Sorbet

You know you are on to a good thing when you leave having earmarked a number of menu items for your next visit and for me it’s the Pissaladerie, the Salade Nicoise and the chance to get amongst the red meat which is being well received by a table of gentlemen diners who I’ve obviously escaped their office tower for some team bonding.

Will report back on how this goes.

2 Phillip Street, Sydney | +61 2 8248 9600

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