For a taste of the Old World head to The French House in Waterloo this weekend and sink into the plush ambiance of stylised, velvet-covered Louis XIV-like furniture under the glimmer of crystal chandeliers.
Amongst the modern warehouse cubes now increasingly containing chichi boutiques and funky restaurants on industrial-looking Danks Street, you will find this veritable gem of a place to be a haven of measured serenity, which will bring you right back to your European coffee sipping days, or at least the way you imagine them to be.
The French House is elegant in an opulent boudoir kind of way, all heavy gold framed mirrors, chocolate wood, carefully aged paintings and intricately-twisted metal chairs poised on the verandah.
Now to the good part: the oversized coffee (is there such a thing? Surely there is no such thing as too much coffee!) and the mouth-watering cakes, which come in a mind-boggling variety. The goodies are carefully arranged in a bijou chocolate bomboniere fashion, so prepare for a hard time choosing what you want. Caramel tarts are fab, so are the éclairs and those things with a mountain of strawberries on top…
There are also sandwiches, fresh salads and quiches for the lunch crowds, and vegetarians are catered for as well (vegans not so much). The café doubles as a brasserie, so you can take some baguettes and assorted breads home with you. And there are croissants everywhere.
Yes, it is all a bit faux-French, in an exaggerated kinda way, and the coffee might not meet the connoiseur's standard. So what? The place has a peculiar kind of decadent charm that's not so easy to find amongst the plethora of contemporary-minded Sydney cafés which all look and feel the same. Great for a pick-me-up afternoon, whether you are a homesick European backpacker or a society lady.
There is an itsy-bitsy downside though. It's all a tad overpriced, as that's the Sydney way. So choose your cake carefully at almost $8 a slice. Thankfully, there are a lot of free tastings going on, so you are likely to get some freebies. Careful, you might fall in love with the place after all. It's perfect to take your girl for a romantic coffee, as it is bound to impress (do take a coffee card – the 8th coffee is free and you are likely to come back).
For public transport take metrobus 20 from the city and alight on cnr Phillip and Young St, then walk 5 minutes to cnr Young and Danks St. Voilà!