First Floor, 380-384 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
03 9600 2142
Part of the appeal of French Saloon is that many think the French bar and bistro has been operating for years – but its origins sit firmly in this decade.
The experience of the team behind it is legendary, with Con Christopoulos, Ian Curley and Josh Brisbane, adding yet another successful venture to their collection of restaurants, with Con and Josh involved in the European, Siglo, Spring Street Grocer and Neapoli, and Ian also involved with Kirk’s Wine Bar and Kirk’s Pub.
The trio has injected that same love of good food and wine into the first-floor offering, creating a clean-lined space that looks and feels like a spot in Paris. Head Chef, Todd Moses, always imagined leading the kitchen at a small, fine dining restaurant and he’s done just that at French Saloon, where, along with Executive Chef, Ian Curley, they’ve created a French menu that has a Melbourne touch, perfect for local diners.
If you’re just after a glass of wine and some nibbles, enjoy the outside terrace. On a sunny day, you can almost imagine that you’re on a balcony somewhere near the Mediterranean, enjoying a selection of wines or sipping on one of the signature cocktails.
Try Normandin-Mercier Sazerac made from the very best cognac, or enjoy a Vesper Martini with a blend of gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc. Take the edge off your hunger and embrace the French attitude by adding a plate of oysters or a charcuterie board.
For an evening out, head straight to the bistro. Start with Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar or share Lightly Cured Kingfish with mandarin and kohlrabi. When you’re ready to move onto more substantial offerings, the Whole Roasted Market Fish looks as beautiful as it tastes with fennel & smoked bacon lardons, while the Steak Frites is perfectly cooked and served with Roquefort butter.
For dessert, look to the French classic ‘Le Grand Choux’, moreish pastry filled with salted caramel gelato, crème diplomat and of course finished with melted dark chocolate.
French Saloon feels like it could have been operating for many years. Not only do the kitchen and front-of-house staff know the menu back to front, the décor with distressed timber floorboards, cast iron heaters and stunning zinc bar, will transport you back in time. The huge six-metre bar is made from French zinc and had to be shipped over in two pieces – but just like everything else, it looks as though it could have been there as long as the building.
For larger groups, there’s a private dining room available. Dubbed Salon de Thé, this room can seat up to 20 people and is reminiscent of a dining room in a provincial home. While the saloon is closed at the weekend, you can book the entire restaurant for your next event, with seating for 60 guests or a cocktail gathering of 110.