J'ai été pris par surprise.. tucked away in the unassuming suburb of Elanora Heights is Frenchies Brasserie. If you have often wondered why French restaurants are few and far between, it's because French cuisine is arguably regarded as the epitome of all culinary delights. The world-renowned cuisine is made famous by its elaborate preparation, precise presentation and sensational flavour. I was first introduced to French cuisine in Paris in my twenties. More recently, I enjoyed French food in the Alsace region of France in a small village named Riquewihr. Inside the rampart walls of the medieval village were 30 amazing restaurants including a Michelin starred. That holiday was one I would never forget and since I have always loved French food and wine.
Quite often people consider a French restaurant to be only fine dining with a formal atmosphere. At a French brasserie, diners can enjoy classic French dishes in a more casual and still upscale setting. At a brasserie you can come in for a simple cheese plate or plat-du-jour at the bar and a few drinks.
It's also a great place to meet friends for a casual sit down lunch and maybe you will extend your stay through to dinner because the wine is so good. Good French cuisine is not overly rich like many seem to think. A good French Chef knows the exact balance of ingredients and will put their own unique spin on a classic dish. If they get it right, the flavours will make your head spin and your taste buds dance like never before.
Here at Frenchies Brasserie, Head Chef Fabian Oliveau is such a Chef that serves classic French dishes faultlessly prepared with his own creative twist adding that extra oomph. Fabian learned from several renowned Chefs around the world and in a 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Las Vegas, France's award-winning Claude Le Tohic, and Maxime Deschamps at the Relais & Chateaux property Le Toiny in St Barths, the Caribbean. He was previously Sous Chef at The Centennial in Sydney, working with Justin North, and prior to that was Sous Chef at l'Etoile, Sydney, working with Manu Feildel.
Frenchies also has a talented Senior Sous Chef Gabriel Rodrigues who is well known for his success more recently at the Beach House in Avalon. Not forgetting the team of waiters, mostly French-speaking, adds to the magic at Frenchies.
So how did the suburb of Elanora Heights secure such divinity? The owner is a privately owned wine retailer David Singer. He has travelled to France on many occasions, especially frequenting Parisian brasseries. David fell in love with this style of dining and decided he would one day recreate his little slice of Paris here on the Northern Beaches. Since opening, Frenchies has become a haven for francophiles offering not only excellence in Parisian cuisine, also superb wines from around the world.
Frenchies Brasserie challenges what customers currently know about French dining with the atmosphere, food and providing personalised, Parisian-style service. Its the ideal place for a casual get together, group celebration, or just enjoy making your way through an amazing wine menu at the bar or outside on the terrace paired with fresh oysters or a saucisson board.
The centre point of Frenchies Brasserie is the fabulous bar filled with an array of quality wines from around the world. Also, plenty of top-shelf spirits and liqueurs and the barman can make some kick arse cocktails too.
When we arrived we were greeted by the lovely restaurant manager Muriel Dayde. Muriel is from Toulouse in the South of France and has had several years of experience in fine dining around the world. In Sydney, she has worked at Akuna Bay, Manly and before starting at Frenchies she provided excellence in service for 10 years at the well known Pilu in Freshwater.
Muriel offered us both a glass of sparkling "Madame Coco Blanc de Blanc" from the Aude Valley in the South of France. This was just the touch of class required to kick off what we were sure would be a very enjoyable dining experience. The Wine list was impressive, several pages of special wines from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Truly heaven for a wine connoisseur. We were a little overwhelmed with the choices and relieved when the Sommelier came over. He had a wonderful French accent which was quite mesmerising. I couldn't decide on which wine and left the choice for him to surprise me.
Thankfully I noticed the food menu was shorter to read. I already knew in a quick glance what I wanted to order as an entree. It had to be the signature dish St Ague twice baked cheese soufflé. This dish to me epitomises French cooking. The careful and precise method of cooking a great soufflé requires skill at not only blending the ingredients, but also in the exact timing of the bake.
I was not disappointed. My soufflé stood to attention, puffed and elegant. It was twice baked and made with Heidi gruyere cheese. I was almost scared to break its skin but was rewarded with a mouthful of cloud. Light and fluffy, the exquisite airy texture and subtle flavours dissolved making my taste buds dance. The taste sensations were further enhanced by a glass of Reserve Mont - Redon Cotes Du Rhone 2016.
My partner eyed my plate keenly but he was also fixated on his own choice, Croustille de gambas, prawns served in a crispy pastry coating with a garlic foam and orange glaze sauce. We, of course, had to share bites and agreed it was hard to tell which dish was the best.
The prawns were perfectly cooked, crispy and so tasty. The sauce was really what made these prawns sing. I could taste garlic and a tiny amount of bisque, no doubt derived from a coulis of crustaceans. The flavour was incredible. The prawns were paired with a glass of Debussy Reverie Chardonnay vintage 2016.
My main course was delicious Duck leg confit served with gratin dauphinois onto of a 5 spice duck jus served with a sprig of petite frisee salad. The duck was tender and juicy, the sauce was delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. I was totally in love with the gratin dauphinois! I have never been so excited about potato before. The delightfully creamy layers were intensely moreish. Even the salad was divine.
My partner chose Braised lamb shank served with glazed carrots, creamy mash and a lamb jus. The lamb melted off the bone. I had to taste it and agreed it was incredible. Again the potato was a star on the plate. Who would believe that mashed potato could taste so good. It was the creamiest and tastiest mash I have ever tasted. The mash wasn't alone in receiving the vegetable award. The glazed baby carrot was also delicious with a slight citrus buttery flavour. The side of seasonal greens were crisp and flavoursome.
The Sommelier paired the braised lamb shank with a glass of Chateau Capbern Gasqueton, Saint Estephe 2009. This wine was truly heaven in a bottle. Well, we were floating from all the delicious food and amazing wine. The atmosphere was buzzing with merriment from other patrons enjoying dining the French way.
Bastille Day (La Fete Nationale) is fast approaching – and Frenchies Brasserie is holding a special dinner on July 13, the night before Bastille Day. Expect the very best of classic French gastronomy created by Head Chef Fabian Oliveau. Also, there will be a selection of wonderful French wines on offer.