Feeling a little bit dusty from hosting a dinner party the night before, we took a fast trip to the South of France last weekend with brunch at LoLuk Bistro. This newcomer to Darlinghurst continues the run of fine Gallic tradition sandwiched between the same heritage-listed sandstone walls that housed Le Pelican for the last ten years.
While owner Luc La Joye has already built a dinner trade, he’s only just opened the restaurant for a very civilised all-day brunch (10am-4pm) on weekends. The light-filled dining room with French doors opening onto Bourke Street really lends itself to daytime dining.
We’re soon very happily situated in white, farmhouse style chairs, with a well-balanced Bloody Mary ($16) in one hand and a smooth Caffe Migliore coffee in the other. Badoit mineral water helps to ease our headaches, while we take in our surroundings. One wall is given over to French booze ads depicting key destination in this region – Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo. While most of us may never see them, these glittering destinations along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea are instantly familiar from movie and television screens, as spots where the super-yachts of the rich and famous drop anchor.
On the other wall, wooden boards, stamped with the red eagle of Nice, depict scenes of country life in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. This is the region where brothers Luc and Loïc grew up, and they’ve tried to bring over some of the area’s traditional French cuisine. It begins with the family’s extra virgin olive oil from Domaine des Gorges du Régalon sitting on the tables, along with wonderfully aromatic grinders of black pepper.
I tried out both on my Omelette du Pays ($16) a super-simple folded egg affair served with crisp, well-dressed salad and house-made foccacia.
The LoLuk Croque Madame ($18) combines a baked ham and Gruyere sandwich with a fried egg, throwing in some thin slices of tomato to break up the richness of the béchamel. The sauce has been judiciously applied, making this one of the more easy to eat versions of this all-too-often stodgy dish. They’ve even served it with a different salad, undressed to better complement the richness of the dish. It allows you to go to town on their excellent olive oil.
With cooking this simple, there's nowhere to hide mistakes, but I'm hard pressed to find any. Colour me impressed enough to have already chosen what I’ll be ordering from the dinner menu on my return visit - Magret de Canard, gnocchis provençaux ($36). That’s duck breast with Provençal gnocchi in case you were wondering.
2/411 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 7900 6251