Get a decent craft brew and modern Parisian charcuterie in the Inner South
Think of a night out at a French restaurant, and it’s unlikely you’ll picture yourself surrounded by giant tanks of beer. Yet at Frenchies Bistro and Brewery in Rosebery, that’s exactly the kind of sweet spot that craft beer and charcuterie lovers would find themselves in.
On the beer front, co-owner Vincent de Soyres ferments his own brew on-site – producing eight varietals on tap and a jaw-dropping 4,000 litres of beer a week, which he wholesales in kegs and tinnies to bars around Sydney. And we say charcuterie, because chef and co-owner Thomas Cauquil specialises in the art of turning humble cuts of protein into earthy terrines, pâtés and silky rillettes (or “cold pulled pork”, as he calls it).
Cauquil trained with Parisian charcuterie master Arnaud Nicolas – a René Redzepi of cured meats – who started a movement called ‘gastronomic charcuterie’, based on the idea that traditionally heavy, fat-laden small goods can be made into something light, modern and elegant. At Frenchies, Cauquil extends his charcuterie skills to seafood and vegetarian dishes on the menu. An entrée of prawn terrine, for instance, is an airy, pale-blond slice of seafood mousse that feels like a bolder French cousin of a Japanese chawanmushi. Chunks of just-cooked prawns add bursts of sweetness and a textural finish. You might fight over the accompanying sea urchin butter – a briny sabayon that ups the ante in richness — but the dish is just as good without it. Veggos are catered for with a colourful mille-feuille of capsicum, eggplant and zucchini, all marinated in rosemary and thyme and held together by a sweet garlic emulsion.
True to its bistronomic roots, Frenchie has a produce-driven menu that changes as often as twice weekly. On a busy Friday night, our waiter recommends a raw Yamba sardine kibbeh (spicy cracked wheat patty) – the result of Cauquil’s morning spoils at the fish market. The squeaky-fresh fillets have been painstakingly pinboned and seasoned with espelette – a mild, Basque-country version of paprika – then topped with a citrusy cucumber foam that lightens the intense flavour of the fish. It’s fiddly business, but one that outshines your average poisson cru. We pair it with a malty LaPerouse, a ‘Bière de Garde’ (sipping beer) from Northern France that has a lean, stone fruit finish. It’s one of de Soyres’ eight house-brewed beers, each from a different terroir that’s inspired by his travels with Cauquil in their post-culinary school days.
Both de Soyres and Cauquil believe craft beer can be just as versatile a food companion as wine. Grab a glass of Comet Pale Ale with a main of seared pork loin and you’ll see what they mean. The hoppy, American-inspired brew has big grapefruit notes that lift the smokiness of the still-pink, caramelised protein. Or go for an Old World IPA – a love child of French and German hops – when you tackle the bisquey, tender discs of Balmain bug white pudding. Hints of floral sauvignon blanc make the sweetness of the whitefish sing, while the addition of flaked oats in the brew makes for a gentler, seafood-friendly finish.
Unless you’re planning a big night, getting through the long list of Frenchie’s craft brews isn’t something you can squeeze into a single visit. But look out for regular tastings and special events like ‘bottomless beer dinners’ – a three-course meal with matching ales.
|Venue name:||Frenchies Bistro and Brewery|
6/61-71 Mentmore Ave
|Opening hours:||Mon noon-2.30pm; Tue-Sat noon-2.30pm & 6-10pm.|