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Vive Le Petit Cafe

By Rhys Kane on May 8, 2012 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

A little bit of Vive la France has come to Coogee Beach. The de rigueur trappings of a proper French cafe have proven a welcome addition to this leafy neighbourhood spot just a short hop from the beach. On a quiet suburban street, tucked in between a launderette and a physiotherapist, this little French gem brings a bit of Paris chic to Coogee. It seems to be a popular spot for locals to sit and read the papers while idling over a coffee and croissants, or more substantial breakfast/lunch dishes such as sweet and savoury crepes, baguettes and tasty salads.

The quaint shopfront has an art deco stained glass window above the door, and the design oozes French style. They haven’t overdone it though – a couple of posters and some vintage wine boxes adorn the green walls, and some cute toile fabric dresses the windows. The cafe certainly is ‘petit’, with only a few tables and a white-washed wooden counter inside, behind which the barista and chef work their magic, and a couple of rustic wooden tables on the sloping pavement out front. The cafe seems impossibly small, but they seem to use every inch of the intimate space cleverly.

Service at La Petite is quick and attentive, performed with a certain je ne sais quoi. The coffee of choice is Di Gabriel, which is served with Gallic flair in great big bowls. In true French style the coffee is smooth and strong and expertly made.

The menus are printed on schoolbook-style lined paper and contain French classics that will delight for breakfast, brunch and lunch. The crepes are the stand out dish – thin pancakes filled with smoked ham and gruyere, served with runny poached eggs, or filled with spinach, ricotta and mushrooms – the taste takes me back to holidays on the Cote d’Azur. Other petit dejeuner choices include a delicious brioche French toast with bananas and maple syrup, croissants and pastries, and for lunch a fine selection of baguettes, sandwiches and fresh salads.

On Friday evenings the kitchen switches gear and serves up easy-going French classics from a set-price menu. The food is classic French Bistro style and the setting couldn’t be more perfect for a home-cooked meal. The prix-fixe menu is great value – two-courses for $40.50 or three-courses for $49.50 – and the $2 corkage charge gives you the opportunity to bring the best claret from your cellar so that you don’t have to pay an excessive restaurant mark-up.

Le Petit Cafe is a unique neighbourhood eatery with a friendly French vibe. Even if you’re not a local, it’s well worth the short trot up the hill the next time you’re at Coogee Beach – c’est magnifique!

Le Petit Café

Address: 63A Dudley Street, Coogee
Phone: (02) 9665 0638
Chef: Rafaele Yon
Open: 6 days (closed Tuesdays) all day breakfast and lunch, Friday dinners
Price: $4.50-$13
Seats: 25
Cards: Mastercard, Visa
Licensed/BYO: BYO (wine only)