Fantastic French food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Mornington Peninsula, but thanks to Le Bouchon, it should be. The traditional bistro is leading the European charge, plating up simple and authentic dishes that are the perfect homage to the red, white and blue.
Stephane Saleres is responsible for bringing the tastes of authentic French- bistro cuisine to Balnarring. Growing up in the south west of France, he moved to the United Kingdom to start his hospitality career. Soon after, the sunny shores of Australia were calling and he found his way to Melbourne and renowned bistro, France-Soir. From there, he headed south, taking up the opportunity to manage the Restaurant at Willow Creek Vineyards in Merrick’s North and moving to the Peninsula, where his family has been ever since.
Almost three years ago, he threw open the doors to Le Bouchon, hoping to create a space where people could enjoy the full French eating and drinking experience in a relaxed environment.
Stephane is joined by Head Chef, David ‘Jean Pierre’ Walford, who brings years of extensive experience to the kitchen. Trained at the prestigious French Culinaire Academy in the UK, David has plied his trade at Cecconi’s in Southbank, the Restaurant at Willow Creek Vineyards and well known Sorrento restaurant, Itali.co. Together, the pair has created a seasonal menu that expertly combines the flavours of France with high quality Australian produce.
Open your culinary experience with a selection of entrees. The seared scallops, served with cauliflower puree and truffle oil give new meaning to the word indulgent, while the escargot will have you flying to the heart of Paris with just one bite.
It’s not a French restaurant without steak frites: choose between the 280g porterhouse or 220g eye fillet, before pairing it with a pepper, Bearnaise or red-wine sauce. Other traditional favourites include boeuf bourguignon, but if you’re looking for something a little less known, order the pan-seared veal loin, served with mushroom calavados, cream sauce and rice pilaf.
Complete your European immersion with a sweet treat. The crème brûlée follows tradition, while the crepes Suzette is a flavour-packed citrus hit. For those who like to finish on a savoury note, there’s always the L’Assie e de Fromage – a selection of artisan cheeses served with lavoche and chutney.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Le Bouchon offers the option of BYO. However, it also offers a variety of sparkling, white and red drops, hailing from both France and just down the road on the Peninsula. Start with a glass of the champagne before moving onto something a little stronger.
With such fantastic French flavours on full display, Le Bouchon fulfils the need for fabulous dining in Balnarring. Stephane has created the perfect combination of elegant fare within a relaxed environment, making a visit to Le Bouchon a very special everyday occurrence.