In Short: Garcon brings a little bit of Paris to Forest Lodge. Seafood chowder is a stand-out dish and coffee is of the highest standard.
Oh boy, have i got a review for you. Garçon is housed in the ‘old is new’ Rozelle Tramway Depot. I recall visiting the tramsheds before its redevelopment. For photographers, it was once a hidden gem and for deviants, it was a retreat for all kinds of mischief. Now though, it’s a polished, refined food hub that caters to the young crowd that call the area home. Oh by the way, for those of you slow on the uptake, Garçon is French for boy or sometimes waiter. Garcon has a prime location, and you can’t miss it as you drive or walk into the Tramsheds.
A large timber island bar dominates the cafe which allows single diners to take in a coffee or pastry and read the newspapers. There’s seating for about 30 inside, and cute a little mezzanine offers a select few a grand view of the cooks and baristas at work. If you’d rather feel the warmth of the sun, there’s seating outside with an awning that transports me back to a Parisian street.
While I love almost everything about Paris, one facet of Paris that Sydney well and truly trumps is great coffee. There’s coffee pedigree with Garcon, as the owner Edward Cutliffe has done amazingly well with boutique roaster Little Marionette. I first enjoyed their coffees in their tiny cafe in Balmain, across from Gladstone Park, and it’s great to see their beans being used in cafes across Sydney. Maybe it’s my Coffee Cap by Little Marionette, but my flat white hits the table before I know it, and I am taking in its aromas. My first sip reveals a punchy robust flavour, that slowly gives way to a dark chocolate finish. As with any great coffee, there’s a beautiful texture indicating great milk work by the barista.
With a persistent rumble in my tummy from a morning spent on the bike, it’s great to see our Garçon making his way up the stairs to the table with a bowl of seafood chowder. This chowder is unlike those I have tried at the wharf in San Francisco or in Cape Cod south of Boston. Those clam chowders were thick, creamy creations. Garcon’s version has a base that’s translucent. First up, it’s those seafood aromas that excite. The chowder based is sweet with an amazing depth of flavour. There’s bacon, corn, onion, and the flavours of mussels and salmon that really invigorate the taste buds. Each of the seafood elements is cooked to perfection. Mussels that are plump and sweet, and salmon that crumbles. Soft cubes of potatoes add volume. It’s an amazingly delicious soup, and truly memorable. When we next return, I am not sure, I could try anything else on the menu as this was so good!
In keeping with the French theme, I sample a croque madame. A bite of it brings back fond memories of sitting in a cafe after a visit to Palace of Versailles. Thick cut toasted bread, with a golden exterior, is layered with ham and emmental with a vibrant sunny side egg as a crowning treat. The Bangalow ham is sweet and the Emmental is a mild flavoured cheese that oozes all over the ham. It’s a rich and decadent sandwich that is makes for very easy eating, almost too easy.
Garcon bills themselves as a “coffee centric espresso and wine bar”. With that in mind, I can’t resist another coffee, and go with a cold drip. I am greeted with an aromatic coffee filled with floral notes. It’s light, and as the ice melts, the coffee reveals a berry finish. It’s a refreshing coffee that cleanses the palate.
Our little Coco and Viner Sammi is busy munching away on her croissant. I ask her for an opinion, and all she can say is “Yum!” I need a bit more, so I tear away a section of the croissant, and revel in the buttery layers of pastry. Like with the croque madame, smoked Bangalow ham is used for the croissant. It’s sweet yet savoury flavour works in unison with the soft interior of the croissant. An empty plate for our little fussy eater is a great endorsement of how good the food was and this is the case with Garcon’s croissant.
We leave Garcon, thoroughly impressed with their offerings. We strategically chose to come just after the lunch rush and I can imagine mid morning and early lunch that it may be an exercise in patience, waiting for a table. We were able to walk right in and grab a seat on a sunny Sunday afternoon. After a fabulous lunch we walked around the Tramsheds and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the canal to Jubilee Park which has a fabulous view to Anzac Bridge and the harbour. An afternoon well spent, if you do head towards Forest Lodge and Garcon!