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The Best French Restaurants in Sydney for 2023

All your friends in Europe? Head to these lavish French eateries and treat yourself to a slice of European summer from Sydney.
By Concrete Playground
April 01, 2023
By Concrete Playground
April 01, 2023


All your friends in Europe? Head to these lavish French eateries and treat yourself to a slice of European summer from Sydney.

While French eats have a longstanding history in Sydney, the cuisine is having a real boom right now with a host of new restaurants serving up escargot, souffle and steak frites opening across the city. The timing is perfect for any locals that have friends and family in Europe and want a slice of Parisian summer, without leaving Australia.

Whether you're looking for a Sydney stalwart that's paved the way for this new wave of French eateries, a fresh face on the scene pushing the boundaries of the French bistro or a waterfront eatery bringing classics to picturesque new places, you can't go wrong with these 12 Sydney spots.

Book a booth and work your way through the best French restaurants in Sydney.

  • 12

    Manon is an all-day European brasserie serving French cusine from morning pastries through to extravagant dinners. This expansive venue can be found in the former digs of Jet Cafe inside Sydney’s century-old Queen Victoria Building. Starting with breakfast, takeaway coffee, pastries and French breakfast staples are available from 7am. Come lunch and dinnertime, things are taken up a notch with steak frites, crab souffle, bone marrow tartine, snail meurette and a raw bar. Plus, on Friday and Saturdays, Manon stays open late to help ease your late-night food cravings.

    Image: Nikki To

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  • 11

    Whalebridge sits in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge offering up French cuisine and specialising in seafood. It boasts a prestigious head chef, ultra-luxurious menu and unbeatable harbour views. Open in the former Circular Quay digs of longstanding seafood restaurant Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, the harbourfront venue is headed up by Executive Chef Will Elliot who has previously worked across London’s St John, Melbourne’s Cumulus Inc. and fellow Sydney CBD French bistro, the beloved Restaurant Hubert. On the menu, you’ll find house specialities that celebrate French cooking and fresh local seafood including duck confit and lobster thermidor — plus a 150-strong wine list. It’s one of the boojiest French restaurants in Sydney.

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  • 10
    The Strand Hotel

    Approaching its 100th year in Darlinghurst, The Strand has been given a huge makeover, with the longstanding corner pub being transformed into a multi-venue hotel, bistro and rooftop bar. Part one of this transformation was the French bistro occupying the pub’s ground floor. At The Strand Bistro, you’ll find all the trimmings of a classic French diner. Inspired by 1920s Paris, the venue boasts a sleek wood and gold fit-out with a menu that rolls out expected favourites from the region’s cuisine. There’s caviar service, steak frites with bearnaise sauce, creamy garlic mussels and a French leek tart. It’s a far cry from standard pub fare. There are also two mid-week specials available for anyone looking to add some Parisian charm to their work week. Head up the the The Strand’s new rooftop for pre- or post-dinner drinks, too.

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  • 9

    Bouillon L’Entrecôte — and its north shore sibling venue Brasserie L’Entrecôte — celebrates tradition, serving up classic dishes done incredibly well. The bouillon opened in Circular Quay’s new dining precinct Quay Quarter Lanes alongside a slew of exciting new venues including Besuto, Hinchcliff House and Londres 126. Head upstairs and you find an expansive dining room with a grand French fit-out. Luxurious detailing and large dining tables are complemented with art and photographs sprawled across the wall — headlined by a huge portrait of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse. When it comes to the French food, the options are varied but not overwhelming. Among the highlights are escargot drenched in a rich sauce and ultra-cheesy twice-baked soufflé, but the house specialty is the 200-gram sirloin steak served with french fries, walnut green salad and the kitchen’s famous secret sauce. Owner Johan Giausseran, nor the chefs, will give up the secret to the sauce’s recipe, no matter how hard you might prod.

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  • 8

    The name does a lot of the heavy lifting for this Sydney French bistro situated above P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants’ Paddington outpost on Oxford Street. Porcine is a restaurant tailor-made for the carnivorous-inclined to pig out on excellent food and wine courtesy of owners Nicholas Hill (former Head Chef at The Old Fitz) and ex-Don Peppino’s co-owner Harry Levy. The menu quite literally goes the whole hog with a focus on nose-to-tail cooking. Highlights of this approach appear on the menu in the form of pork shoulder with pomme purée and choucroute garnie; pork creton with lentils; and truffled pork and prune pâté with duck fat toast. Don’t fret if you’re meat-averse. Veg friends are looked after with a wild mushroom vol-au-vent, hearty autumn vegetables with vinaigrette, and a crisp raw endive with plum, capers and mint.

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  • 7

    Lavender Bay’s Loulou is offering Sydneysiders a taste of everyday French life. The triple whammy bistro-bakery-delicatessen hybrid has become a local favourite on the lower north shore, with the team providing everything from a morning coffee and luxe crab soufflé omelets, to a champagne lunch paired with hand-cut steak tartare. Over at the bistro, you’ll find shaved veal tongue, caviar service and an impressive wine list. Follow your nose to the boulangerie next door where you’ll be enveloped in the delicious aroma of artisanal baguettes, croissants, batards and baked sweets. In the traiteur (delicatessen), browse through a wide selection of house-made produce and comforting home-style meals created by French-born chef and butcher Cyprien Picard (ex-Victor Churchill).

    Images: Steven Woodburn

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  • 6

    What happens when you combine two of the city’s hottest chefs, an award-winning young-gun sommelier and a suburb on the brink of a revival? Bistrot 916. Run by Restaurant Hubert colleagues chef Dan Pepperell (Alberto Lounge, 10 William Street and Frankie’s) and sommelier Andy Tyson (Alberto Lounge), together with long-time Rockpool Dining Group chef Michael Clift, the Potts Point restaurant is now welcoming in Sydney Francophiles through its folding glass doors. Pepperell and Tyson didn’t set out to reproduce Restaurant Hubert, but the pair’s decision to leave the Swillhouse group’s OTT Sydney French restaurant and open a bistro of their own warrants a comparison. Here you can keep it simple and go for French classics — such as chicken liver parfait — or follow Pepperell down the path towards the more unusual. Sardine burgers, fried lamb’s brains with smoked eel mayonnaise and grilled tongue await you before a quick veer left leads you back to French bistro staples for the Plats Principaux: duck, steak, lobster or mushrooms served, of course, with frites.

    Images: Cassandra Hannagan

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  • 5
    Franca Brasserie

    Franca came towards the beginning of Potts Point’s recent wave of high-end restaurants. Over the next three years it’s become a beloved spot in the area for a special occasion or treat-yourself meal — to the point where owner Andrew Becher has opened a Catalonian-inspired sibling venue next door. With its moniker derived from lingua franca — a common language adopted by those whose native languages are different, historically a mix of Italian, French, Greek, Arabic and Spanish — Franca takes cues from all corners of the Mediterranean, though it leans heavily on France. The menu features reinvented French classics, be it a niçoise salad with sashimi-style tuna or Besseau’s seasonal take on soufflés. Topping it all off is a 250-strong wine list housed in the venue’s an open wine cellar.

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  • 4
    Restaurant Hubert

    Often the top of many Sydneysider’s lists for French cuisine, Restaurant Hubert has built somewhat of a cult following. While the food is the obvious drawcard, the Sydney French restaurant’s wine and cocktail lists, daily live jazz and pop-up film screenings have helped build its immense reputation. From the moment you open the door, Hubert will hurtle you headfirst into a C.S. Lewis-style adventure, taking you from dreary Bligh Street to the resplendent old-world opulence of post-war Paris. It’s like an adult’s version of Narnia, only this time there’s steak and wine. While it’s an ideal setting for a romantic table for two, the best way to attack the menu is to round up some friends and order the banquet.

    Images: Bodhi Liggett. 

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  • 3

    While restaurants like Hubert and Bistrot 916 are reinventing French food in Sydney, Bistrot Gavroche is more preoccupied with nailing the classics. It aims to pay loving homage to old-school French bistro and it succeeds. Walking into the dining room you’re greeted with a mahogany fit-out, plush red booths and pristine white table cloths, transporting you straight to Europe. Located above Spice Alley, Gavroche has mastered the basis of a great French menu. Think cheeses, escargot, beef tartare, onion soup, moules frites and foie gras. But there are also plenty of specialty dishes to be found. Look no further than the yellowfin tuna tartare made with lemon, pickled onion and creme fraîche, or the cøte de boeuf for two, served with MB4 OP ribs, bearnaise sauce and beef jus.

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  • 2
    Bistro Rex

    Potts Point’s lavish French diner Bistro Rex has been a local favourite since opening back in 2017. Set on Macleay Street in a former Commonwealth Bank building, the bistro oozes cool — and it also oozes cheese soufflé. The ooey, gooey, twice-baked masterpiece is a standout on the menu — made using cantal cheese that’s produced in the Auvergne region of central France. Rex is also a big proprietor of local produce and sustainability. The Sydney French restaurant sources produce from around NSW including its venison, lamb, pork and angus steer from Mountainbred Farm in Oberon. It also employs a nose-to-tail program in which it utilises as much of the animals it serves as possible — with dishes like offal, cote de voeuf and suckling pig crown, shoulder, leg and terrine all available. Accompany your pork leg with bone marrow spring rolls, spanner crab omelette and the aforementioned soufflé and you’ve got yourself a memorable meal.

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  • 1

    If Felix was in a Paris arrondissement rather than the Sydney CBD, no one would blink a perfectly curled eyelash. Yes, it’s a little piece of Paris and no one’s complaining. From the (sometimes) French waiters bustling around the tiled floors to the decadent crustacean bar and elaborate murals on the ceiling, Felix is the bistro the city has been waiting for – and we can’t get enough of the Steak Frites. It’s a humming, buzzing, people-watchers delight in here: all beautiful wooden finishes, crisp white table cloths and intricate tiling. All the classic French cues are here: the ever-changing ‘Plat du Jour’, the rotisserie section and that incredible oyster bar.

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