You hear a lot about Balmain as a treasure trove of cafes, bakeries and boutiques but not as much about Rozelle which is the neighbouring suburb connected by the main thoroughfare of Darling Street. A group of us descend upon La Grande Bouffe in Rozelle for a Saturday morning brunch and this lovely French café was happy to accommodate all 12 of us – we’re lucky we had a booking because it was packed out by 10.30am.
Located on a corner, the prominent signage on its awnings is visible as you drive past. Inside there’s ornate wooden detailing on the huge mirror hanging on the wall and slightly rustic dark wooden furniture, but otherwise nothing much to physically distinguish it as a French eatery. However, once you start perusing the menu you see certain dishes that are a French twist on regular brunch favourites such as the Croque Madame (toast with poached duck egg).
I’ve already picked out a Smoked Salmon dish together with a mocha, and the boy goes for the Big Breakfast with a large cappuccino. To his surprise, his coffee was served in a bowl rather than a normal cup, but luckily the lack of handles on the bowl had the bonus of warming his hands up in the morning chill. The large serving of coffee went well with the generous portions of the Big Breakfast, which consisted of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, sausages and bacon. It was nothing special, but certainly filled him up enough.
Big Breakfast, $19.50
On the other hand, the mocha I ordered was served in a regular cup and had a decent ratio of chocolate to coffee. I really enjoyed my Smoked Salmon on top of a potato cake which was crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, mixed with chopped red onions. The saltiness of the smoked salmon combined with the runny yolk of the poached egg and the crunchy potato resulted in a wonderful combination of flavours and reminded me of a fancier version of a hash brown with eggs.
Smoked Salmon with potato cake, $16.50
I like La Grande Bouffe for something a bit different from the norm at brunch time if you pick their more interesting sounding menu items and judging by the crowds of locals being served at the bustling café, this place isn’t much of a secret among those who live around the area. Street parking is not that difficult to find if you look around the side streets off Darling Street, and the area is perfect for a lazy afternoon walk after brunch to explore its charming shops, markets and parks.
La Grande Bouffe
2/758 Darling Street
Rozelle NSW 2039
Phone: 02 9818 4333