Strolling down the quite end of Danks Street in Waterloo will find you stopped outside an unassuming corner café. The wide, wooden verandah gives little away, but through the open café doors can be spied sparkling chandeliers and golden gilt-edged mirrors. Like magpies drawn to shiny objects, one can’t help but be lured inside.
Glittering chandeliers and the waft of fresh coffee lures you inside
Stepping up onto the sun dappled verandah of The French House, you are instantly transported to a different place, in a different time. No longer are you in Sydney, but instead, in a Baroque Parisian parlour, where pinstripe wallpaper, gilded mirrors, mismatched velvet high-backed chairs, a giant chandelier and a collection of paintings and portraits, in ornately carved frames dominate the space.
The Parisian parlour themed décor is beautiful, albeit a little over the top.
The décor, depending on personal preference, sits somewhere between old-world opulence and gaudy, but either way, in all its eccentricities and oddities; the space remains eternally fascinating and equally charming.
Selecting just one of these fine French cakes and tarts is rather an arduous task
The French House boasts a grand, intricately carved wood and marble counter. One end of the counter, by the café’s main entrance, hosts an abundance of doughy goodness; fresh pastries, flaky croissants and giant loaves of crusty bread. Next up, encased in glimmering gold and glass, a selection of savoury wonders; generously stuffed croissants, fresh quiche in a nest of buttery pastry and sandwiches on fluffy, freshly baked bread. The final third of the counter houses the most precious goods - tarts and cakes all encased in crumbly pastry and topped with vibrant fruits and ribbons of chocolate.
After anguishing over your decision and finally placing your order at the counter; grab a seat on the shady verandah, where soft French music and decorative wrought iron tables and chairs continue the Parisian theme outdoors.
The Parisian theme continues outdoors, with French music and ornate wrought iron furniture.
The quintessential French croissant ($6.90) - stuffed with cheese and tomato and lightly toasted is a great starting point. The croissant itself is delicious; the pastry is rich and buttery, yet light and flaky. The tomatoes are ripe and juicy, and the cheese has been toasted to oozy perfection. Sadly though, it does lack seasoning.
Rich and flaky; the quintessential French croissant.
If a dainty little croissant just won’t cut it, The French House also serves a selection of sandwiches and wraps. The turkey, cranberry and camembert baguette ($10.90) is a little dry, but still a winner with its traditional flavour combination and mild, creamy cheese; and the chicken, avocado, tomato and cheese sandwich ($10.90) comes served on a freshly baked ciabatta. The bread is as it should be, soft and slightly porous with a crisp crust full of flavour, and the fillings are all tasty and ripe. However, like the croissant, the sandwich has no seasoning and runs dry, sorely lacking some sort of aioli or mayonnaise.
Delicious bread and fresh fillings - the sandwich is tasty, but a little dry.
While savoury pickings fall flat, the sweet treats certainly pick up the slack. Little tartelettes, gâteaux and mille feuilles are all just as exquisite to eat as they are to look at.
Decadent and delicious; ricotta choc chip tart.
The strawberry tart ($6) is gloriously vibrant in both colour and flavour, combining sweet, juicy berries with silky crème patissiere. The ricotta choc chip tart, decorated with delicate chocolate curls, is the perfect balance of moist cake and decadent dark chocolate, and the chocolate and caramel tart ($6) encases fine chocolate and soft, gooey caramel in a thin, buttery shell. Just a hint of salt through the golden caramel does well to cut through the intense sweetness, making this little tart perfection.
Gooey golden caramel, rich chocolate and thin, crumbly pastry - perfection.
While the savoury selection at The French House is a little comme ci, comme ca; the pastries and tarts, as well as the coffee are magnifique, making The French House an ideal location to while away the hours on a warm summer’s afternoon while savouring sweet French delicacies.
Where: Corner of Danks and Phillip Street, Waterloo, NSW.
Why: Delicious cakes and pastries. Beautiful Parisian themed décor, and a quiet, sunny corner position.
Cost: Savoury croissants, sandwiches and quiches from $6.90 - $14.90. Cakes and tarts all $6.
When: Open everyday, 7.30am - 5pm.
Good for kids: Yes.
Take away: Yes. Loaves of bread, whole and half quiches and whole cakes and sweet tarts can also be purchased to take away.