While most of Sydney’s French joints are usually sexy, dimly lit and thoroughly Parisian in style, Whalebridge breaks from the mould. It aims to evoke the sun-dappled Mediterranean seaside, which isn’t hard – it’s perched on the edge of the Circular Quay, positioned so almost all tables score a view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. It’s also a completely outdoor venue, so the weather’s whims can be a risk. But it’s worth the gamble.
Taking up residence in a converted heritage amenity block that for decades was an oyster bar and cafe, it offers a casual, adaptable take on fine dining that runs the gamut from pre-theatre snacks to afternoon aperitivo and all-out big-budget lobster and champagne dinners.
The produce-driven menu is broad and welcomes diners to choose their own adventure. Some of the big hitters, like the bouillabaisse de Marseille, overflowing with prawn, scampi and white fish, make the most of seafood freshly pulled from the sea. As does the build-your-own seafood tower, which can be curated with an array of chilled seafood: whole or half lobster, scallops, oysters, caviar and more.
Elsewhere, the light crudité plate and a charcuterie selection teamed with the Parisienne Negroni (made with Citadelle gin, Pampelle Ruby and Lillet Rouge) will set you up nicely for afternoon snacking. Or go for the poisson frites – crumbed whole whiting with endive and celery remoulade – for a casual seaside fish’n’chips experience.
Open your drinks list for a broad and intuitive selection of cocktails and wines, including some excellent French drops mixed with local hits.