Smith Street's trésor: La Niche

Enough already with your smashed avos and poached eggs. Get cultured and dine somewhere exciting! La Niche is a little hidden gem on Smith Street that I've recently fallen in love with. It's Melbourne's own slice of France!

Owners, Amanda and Anthony, opened their doors back in 2005, introducing a unique European twist on contemporary Australian dining. The cosy café radiates a romantic ambience with French relics and art decorating the walls. Throughout the week, the locale hosts events featuring live music nights, including French and Jazz music. Paired with some wine and French cheese and you're set for a fête! Singing and dancing is encouraged, with plenty of room to move out into the courtyard or on the street corner. Upstairs you'll find beautiful displays by local artists who are invited to exhibit their work for free. How charmant!

We visited on a weekend when the francois serve all-day brunch! The continental breakfast menu includes simple, traditional dishes from France, including the Cassoulet and the Tartiflette (pictured above). As soon as I read the description of the Tartiflette, I decided I must order it - Tartiflette (French Winter specialty) - baked egg with bacon, potato, onion, cream and grilled Reblochon cheese. Oh mon Dieu! This Winter dish will warm your heart and soul. That cheesy goodness with the bacon and the potato... Parfait!

To contrast the savoury dish, we also ordered a devilishly sweet one - Brioche French Toast with blueberry and strawberry coullis, walnuts and yoghurt. It also seemed fitting to order French toast as we almost felt like we were back in Paris. I've now come to realise the best French toast is always made with brioche. This has definitely made my list of sweet breakfast favourites. I highly recommend you brush up on your French and say Bonjour to Anthony, who is always smiling and happily whistling behind the counter. Get cosy with a good book and a café au lait, or enjoy browsing the wonderful art around you.