Vincent Dravert is filled to the brim with bonhomie. As the friendly co-proprietor of Bonjour Caf, a French eatery tucked inside the Alliance Francaise language school, he spends his days charming and chatting with the customers who come to try his take on traditional French food. For Vincent, Bonjour Caf is a way to bring his passion for French culture to the land of Vegemite lovers, and share the tastes and textures of his Parisian upbringing.
I moved here from Paris 6 years ago, Vincent says, but not long after I arrived I really thought, “What’s missing here is a place with simple, delicate and affordable homemade dishes with a glass of wine to go every lunch”. He explains that he grew increasingly frustrated (and hungry) looking for the type of food he wanted to eat. I just saw a lot of places selling pizza and burgers. There wasnt much diversity. His grumbling tummy led him to open a creperie in Martin Place with his partner, Ana Morales. Customers craved their crepes made from imported French ingredients, but when an opportunity to expand came up in the form of a caf, the two jumped at the chance.
At Bonjour Caf we are able to offer so much more, he explains, Now we do everything from quiches and baguettes to gourmet salads and traditional French soups. But the menu also makes a little room for Anas own Colombian heritage, working in a few South American flavours to give the French cuisine something of a twist most notably with avocado! Avocado is such a popular food in Colombia and Australia, Vincent says, So we had to put it on the menu! Im used to working with avocado now and I love them. I still dont like Vegemite, of course. When I tried it I got a horrible surprise, but we keep some behind the counter if a customer needs it on their toast, he laughs. Bonjour Cafe also prepares traditional French dishes for lunch – but youll have to turn up on the day to discover what it is!
But of course the main ingredients in French cooking; butter and flour, are really the stars of the Bonjour Caf show. They make up the bulk of many of Bonjour Cafs most popular treats croissants and pastries. Vincent says, The Australian cooking style and the French are so different. We just use more butter and more wine in everything! But, he adds, We actually dont use much fat, much oil – maybe a drop. And things are never too sweet we make things just sweet enough.
Its a recipe that seems to be working, with Bonjour Caf enjoying a steady stream of customers (many of whom Vincent and Ana know by name). Vincent says, Im a computer programmer in my other life, which is very different its complex and when Im doing it, Im on my own. At the caf I get to open up, talk, chat and have fun. I enjoy that contact with people. The atmosphere here is very friendly and open. And working alongside the French language school means many customers are excited to try out their French conversation skills in the Eiffel-tower inspired caf. The caf is very old school Frenchie , says Vincent, Its like home in here. And maybe thats why French-Australians, (and Australians who wish they were French) have made it their home too!
Alliance Franaise de Sydney, 257 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000 |0413 970 041 |
OPEN Mon – Thur 7:30am – 6:45pm | Sat 8am – 1:45pm | Sun CLOSED