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Entrecote steak frites
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The best French restaurants in Melbourne

Voulez vous manger avec moi ce soir? Consult our guide to the best French restaurants Melbourne has to offer

Written by
Larissa Dubecki
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We might be 16,760 kilometres from Paris, but geography cannot dampen Melbourne's love affair with la belle France. The city's leading French restaurants are a first-class ticket to the Old World — with just a little help from steak frites, crème brulée and all their delicious handmaidens. 

For more food guidance, peruse our round-up of Melbourne's best restaurants – or take a trip down south to the best Italian restaurants.

Melbourne's best French restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Collingwood

The latest addition to Scott Pickett's growing Brady Bunch clan of restaurants is steeped in the romance of 1920s Paris, from a stage-set salon to please the most devout Francophile to a menu steeped in the certainties of snails, saucisson sec and soufflé. There's an extravagance about Smith St Bistrot, and we're not just talking about the $250 caviar service. Everything wears a patina of age, from the enormous, artfully distressed mirrors to the minutiae of mismatched crockery. It's beguiling – as is the wine list, which has affection for both Australia and the Old World across a huge price range.

  • Restaurants
  • Prahran
  • price 2 of 4

The reboot of Jason M Jones' South Yarra party-hard restaurant on Prahran's Greville Street is a vision splendid. The enormous space flirts with the Belle Époque via royal blue velvet banquettes, glittering chandeliers and random arty tchotchkes, and it has quickly become the new hangout of the Instagram set. And who are we to argue when the steak frites are reliably excellent and the Champagne so free-flowing? It's also worth expanding your horizons to the Gallic certainties of snails in garlic butter, duck à l'orange and tart au citron, and taking your time to swoon at the surroundings while enjoying people watching par excellence. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne

Nobody would be shocked to hear that the cocktails at Bar Margaux are good. The CBD basement bar is part of the stable that includes the Everleigh and Heartbreaker, but there's also serious thought going into the food. Like the dark, moody and magnificent fit-out, the menu is a rollcall of classics, including the bordelaise-boosted cheeseburger of your dreams. What you might not expect in a watering hole where the kitchen's open until 3am (and beyond on weekends) is that you're going to get such a good French onion soup, credible steak frites or such a ridiculously rich lobster croque monsieur. 

France-Soir
  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra

It could be the French bistro of cliché, but well into its fourth decade, France-Soir still feels like the real smoky-mirrored deal. Expect closely packed, linen-clad tables, wildly French-accented waiters, a hubbub that goes on until the witching hour (they close at midnight seven days, bless) and the very real chance of seeing captains of industry and visiting rock stars do their thing. They're not reinventing the envelope, but why should they? This is your go-to joint for steak frites, for freshly opened oysters, for pork terrine and leek tart and sea perch in a saffron-stained prawn bisque. As for the blast-from-the-past BYO policy during certain services — for that, France-Soir shall be truly blessed.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Melbourne

Melbourne's restaurant scene would be much the lesser without Philippe Mouchel. Our French elder statesman has ruled the Gallic roost since the 1980s and continues to delight at his Collins Street flagship. The roast chicken, skin bewitched to a dark gold on the rotisserie and accompanied by a buttery Paris mash, is a swoon-worthy triumph of real-deal flavour that deserves its signature dish status. But beyond the chicken liver and foie gras parfait and the amazing floating island dessert, you'll find modern technique adding its own oh la la, from the mozzarella emulsion with heirloom tomato gazpacho to the beetroot-cured salmon with creamed cucumber salad.

Noir
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond

A surprise package awaits on Richmond's Swan Street, where an intimate two-level space doubles as a portal to the south of France, courtesy of chef Peter Roddy. Sunny Med vibes are a given thanks to a menu of crayfish tortellini and poached prawns, or lamb rump with capsicum coulis and a tumble of seasonal veg à la Provence. As for the gougeres with Comté custard innards... they're worth the price of admission alone.

Finish off with a sweet treat

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