Whilst out on a shopping run to Rozelle, something that I find myself doing about once a month due to a number of great purveyors that can be found there, a request was thrown out onto Twitter for good place to stop by for lunch. As often as I shop in Rozelle, I rarely find myself eating there for some reason.
A number of suggestions were thrown around, but one that came up with some degree of frequency was la grande bouffe.
Before I continue, apologies in advance if the photo processing is not up to par. Not working with my standard equipment due to being away on a holiday, so it’s hard to tell if it’s right. Anyhow…
la grande bouffe is a French bistro situated at the southern end of Darling St, on the very outskirts of the Rozelle shopping district. There a very few purveyors down this end, with only Herbie’s Spices, & now The Essential Ingredient, though not at the time of this visit. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was already shopping at Herbie’s, I may never have bothered to venture here.
You see, for some reason whenever the suggestion to visit a French restaurant is bandied around, it always gives me pause. Don’t get me wrong, French food is known to be some of the finest of the world. However, whenever French food comes to my mind, it often comes with the baggage of rich, heavy, formal & expensive. These are generally not the traits I desire from lunch, especially after a large shopping run on a warm day.
Placing my entrenched concerns to one side, I pulled up a seat at one of the street-side tables (mostly for lighting reasons) and requested a menu.
Lunch began with a Latte ($3.20), and a Warm Baguette served with butter ($4).
I’m of the mindset that a good latte can be enjoyed without the need for added sugar to balance out any undesired bitterness. This was one such coffee, with a smooth flavour and that desired buzz that one often seeks in a coffee, good or otherwise.
The baguette is one of the better ones I’ve had in Sydney. A delightfully crunchy crust encases a warm, fluffy centre that melts the butter almost immediately on contact.
Having already broken away from what I guess you could call my status quo, I figured why not go all the way and order something that I would not normally have for lunch, or in this case, order at all.
A warm salad of Sautéed Chicken Liver with Beetroot and Wild Roquette ($15) is placed before me. The salad is a little confronting, as I have a lot of childhood memories of being fed the livers of various animals under considerable duress, for the sake of my health and well being.
After the first bite, all the bad memories came flooding back. The metallic taste. The unpleasant, grainy texture. The subtle gag reflex. Were I to have stopped there however, I would have missed out on the greatness to follow.
The first piece of liver was a small one that was cooked all the way through. The next one, and many subsequent ones afterwards, had a pink centre that melts away like a rich, meaty butter. The roasted beetroot paired very well with the liver, cutting through its richness, whilst cubes of lardon (salt-cured pork fat) had a wonderful flavour to them which serves to season the salad. Despite the richness of the liver, it was lighter meal than I was expecting it to be.
Not only was this a wonderful lunch to cap off a periodical Rozelle shopping run, it also served to chip away at entrenched beliefs as the chicken liver salad was quite good, the atmosphere casual and, though in my mind the baguette is somewhat on the pricey side, the rest of the meal was reasonable in cost.
There’s the Sautéed Calves Liver with Pomme Puree and Balsamic Jus on the lunch menu. I just might have to give that a go after another one of these shopping runs.
la grande bouffe
Shops 1 & 2, 758 Darling St, Rozelle
(02) 9818 4333
Breakfast from 7:30am, 7 days
Lunch from 12pm, 7 days
Dinner from 6:30pm, Tues – Sun