Tomorrow is the French National holiday, Bastille Day, where Mesdames et Messieurs everywhere celebrate the storming of the Bastille, and freedom from the monarchy. France has given us so much art, fashion, culture and food (Mon Dieu! The food!), it would feel wrong not to join them in raising a champagne flute and toasting to la belle France.
The Brisbane French Festival is on tomorrow from 10am to 10pm at the Southbank cultural forecourt (near the Wheel of Brisbane), and is a perfect opportunity to sample a taste of French life. There are a myriad of French food vendors, as well as arts, crafts and fashion stalls.
The festival also boasts a dedicated restaurant, created by the team from Sprout, where you can sit down and enjoy a two course meal amongst the performers and celebratory atmosphere. Or, to enjoy the day in true French style, pick up a couple of pastries and take a leisurely stroll alongside the river.
For those of you who want to celebrate with a slightly more Gallic, laid-back attitude, I offer the following suggestions:
Lady Lamington | Fortitude Valley
For a taste of the French Riviera in Brisbane, the sundeck at Lady Lamington bar is hard to beat. Join me in a prayer for some sunshine tomorrow, then grab your best Audrey Hepburn sunglasses and headscarf and make your way to one of the lounges.
Not only can you enjoy a glass of très chic Veuve Clicquot, darling, but the deck at Lady Lamington is also the perfect spot to indulge in the popular Parisian pass-time of people watching. Sip a glass of bubbles, maybe nibble on an olive or two, and lounge under an umbrella, as you watch the world go by.
And, if If the rain persists? Simply repair to the salon downstairs!
Where: 483 Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley
Montrachet | Paddington
Traditional décor and traditional food cooked by an honest-to-goodness Frenchman in the heart of picturesque Paddington? Sounds like heaven. Montrachet has been the Brisbane institution for French food for some time now, and it is with good reason.
The food at Montrachet speaks for itself - delicate, refined and oh-so-delicious. Chef Thierry Galichet offers gourmands across Brisbane a place to call home. Oxtail ravioli with foie gras in bouillon; twice baked sand crab and gruyere soufflé... It’s enough to make a girl swoon.
Despite the (very French) unconventional opening hours (dinner from 6:00pm Mon-Thurs), the people still come for the food, and so should you!
Where: 224 Given Terrace in Paddington
Piaf | South Brisbane
Piaf restaurant (named for Edith Piaf, the French chanteuse) does a wonderful job of conjuring up the feel of a French brasserie, with a distinctly modern Australian twist. The tables are nowhere near as close together as they would be en France, for example, and you have nothing to fear from the mostly friendly wait staff.
The food is always delicious and well presented, but the very best feature of this cosy spot is the price which, for the quality, is nothing short of fantastic. When it is on the menu, the steak frites avec Béarnaise is about the best bite I can think of for just $24.00. You will not regret spending an evening here.
Where: 182 Grey Street in South Brisbane
Rhubarb Rhubarb | Wooloowin
I have to admit a slight bias towards this restaurant; it is a perennial favourite with me, but I love it for good reason! The ambience at Rhubarb Rhubarb is what keeps me coming back. A very relaxed and warm atmosphere, along with attentive and helpful wait staff, create an extremely convivial dining space.
Classic French fare executed with an expert hand is delivered from the open kitchen all night, beautifully plated and seasoned. You need not fear food envy here, as I have never once been disappointed with my choice, and I must insist that you leave room for dessert. May I recommend the profiteroles?
Where: 85 Kent Road in Wooloowin
TUL Note: Read about Sarah’s exploits in the kitchen and beyond on her blog, The Sugar Hit. With a no calorie wastage policy, if it’s no good it doesn’t get past her lips. You can be sure only Brisbane's finest passes this fine food aficionado's test. Find her on Twitter @TheSarahCoates, and Facebook.