Fratelli Go French
Barry McDonald, owner of the Fratelli Fresh empire that is spreading across Sydney, has overseen the inception of Café Nice, an unpretentious, laid-back French experience free from the clichés usually associated with this cuisine. By Nicholas Sherwood.
The new, 120-seat restaurant overlooking Circular Quay was designed by Michael Delany, who has created a bright, breezy interior rich with meridional gallic charm. As McDonald states, he “wanted a blonde, feminine room that had a south of France feel.”
The abundant light in the project is a deviation for the designer, whose other establishments are typically “darker, more moody and very Italian”. Ample fenestration, glowing indirect illumination and strategically distributed mirrors create an internal nimbus, perfectly suiting the mediterranean inspiration of the eatery.
Australians are yet to warm to the Niçoise cuisine, which is the food of the south of France – (more Italian than French). Instead of archetypal French food, “it is a lighter, fresher food – lots of olive oil, vegetables and seafood”. It seems a missed opportunity for Australians not to adopt this cuisine – as Mr McDonald points out, “nobody in Australia cooks this cuisine and yet its so well suited to our life style and climate.”
The menu and wine list match the simple, light design aesthetic that has a tasteful marine edge. McDonald puts it well – “Café Nice is all about casual food, casual dining, beautiful light French wines and a bit of fun.”