We are fans of the eateries that the team behind Fratelli Fresh have been opening up around Sydney, and their newest venture Café Nice at Circular Quay is no exception to the rule. As its name suggests, the food being served up is a blend of French/Italian paying homage to the city of Nice on the French Riviera near the border of the two countries.
I know the Circular Quay area quite well but found that the entrance to Café Nice slightly difficult to find because it is tucked away on the side of the light yellow building across the road from the AMP building. The name of the café is lit up in bright pink neon and the eclectic décor continues inside with a mix of chic gourmet in its corridor of wine bottles contrasting with slightly beachy black and white striped canvas awnings above the windows.
Café Nice is bustling on a Friday night, with people waiting for tables at the bar and a hum of constant chatter. The lighting is soft in the restaurant, with a yellow glow around the whole place and a surprise view of the Harbour Bridge is visible through one of the windows under the Cahill Expressway, although this view is occasionally punctuated by the sudden rumbling of a train rattling past.
We started off with a Crab Omelette with Foie Gras Butter which was quite colourful with visible chunks of shredded crab meat and chopped chives mixed in throughout. The texture of the omelette was quite smooth and slippery, almost a bit too soggy for my liking and tasted rather heavy with the dollop of rich foie gras on top.
Crab omelette with Foie Gras Butter, $24
For my main I ordered a Daube of Beef Cheek Nicoise with Fettuccine which featured some of the softest beef I’ve ever tasted. The meat just melted apart in your mouth as it had been braised in the daube, which is a French Provencal style stew and was nicely paired up with a bed of pasta ribbons for carbs. While the dish was delicious and quite filling, we noticed that my friend’s serving of the same dish was significantly smaller than mine. This inconsistency in serving size might have been due to us dining in a large group and the kitchen being under pressure to plate up all our dishes around the same time.
Daube of Beef Cheek Nicoise with Fettuccine, $22
Overall, we enjoyed the slightly kitchsy decor and buzzing ambience at Cafe Nice and although not every dish is a hit, we are still keen come back to try out the other items on the menu which feature a different style of French cuisine than what we haven’t had before in Sydney. There’s a liberal sprinkling of French words mixed with English on their menu so it’s also a good chance to practice your French reading skills if you’ve ever learnt the language!
2 Phillip Street, Circular Quay East
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 8248 9600