Hidden in Circular Quay and only recognisable by a small neon sign hung over an unassuming doorway is Café Nicé, a recent enterprise by Café Sopra restaurateur Barry McDonald. As its name suggests, the food pays homage to the city of Nice on the French Riviera and is inspired by McDonald’s favourite restaurant in Nicé, La Petite Maison.
McDonald says, “What we’re trying to show people is that it’s not really French food, it is a lighter, fresher food – lots of olive oil, vegetables and seafood. It’s not what we’re used to in terms of French food but translates well to an Australian setting. Café Nicé is all about casual food, casual dining, beautiful light French wines and a bit of fun.”
The décor is an instant standout with bright punches of colour against whites and timbers. Indoor plants and striped awnings give a French flavour without it being too obvious. We kick off proceedings with a selection of fresh breads followed by Tomates, Basilic, Buffalo Mozzarella & Olive Oil ($20) and Grilled Prawns with Tomato & Basil Butter ($24). The salad was vibrant and fresh with the healthiest serving of mozzarella I’ve seen in a while. The prawns matched with the basil butter were a delight, however I must warn this is not a first date entrée, things can get a little messy.
With over 15 mains to choose from it took us some time and much deliberating to decide on the Mulloway filet cooked en papillote with Silverbeet, Pancetta & Marjoram ($29) and the Sirloin Grille with Roast Garlic & Crème Fraiche ($32). The Mulloway, a recent addition to the menu, was recommended to us by our waiter and for good reason, because it was fantastic.
Café Nicé settles in wonderfully to the existing Fratelli Fresh restaurant offerings, presenting a different style of cuisine in a unique and relaxing environment. Whether it’s a couple’s night out or a dinner with bunch of mates, you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself.