When you’ve got a craving for escargot and a little soupe à l’oignon, only the best French restaurants in Melbourne will do. Outside of the fabled European city, best known for its rich and mouth-watering flavours, Melbourne is your best bet for authentic Fench food, and thankfully so. French cuisine is so beloved across the world that it is UNESCO listed under intangible cultural heritage. Food for the French is a way of life. It’s intertwined with everything and contrary to popular belief, it’s not fancy or snobby, it’s all about harmony and letting the main ingredient sing. Oui oui!
Types of French Restaurants
Before you venture down to your local French provider for a serving of snails, it’s worth understanding what you are in for. Namely, what’s the difference between a Bistro and a Brasserie? According to Explore France, the country’s official tourist guide, there are a few main types of restaurants, each offering a varying assortment of goodies.
“From auberges to restaurants and everything in between, France has a wide variety of places to dine with different offerings, price ranges and atmospheres. This can lead to some confusion, however, if you’re hungry and not sure where to go if you’re looking for a multi-course meal or just a casual bite to eat,” the organisation wrote.
With that in mind, we’re breaking down the type of restaurants in France before taking you on a culinary journey through the best French restaurants in Melbourne.
- Bistro – Ideal for a quick meal. This type of French restaurant is usually run by families and foodies. The experience is typically highlighted by some of the best wines, coffees, food, tobacco, lottery tickets and even scratch-off games.
- Brasserie – Similar to an upmarket Aussie Pub, brasseries feature everything from traditional cuisine to coffee and alcohol at moderate prices (less than restaurants). You’ll find a wider variety of food choices on offer than Bistros, and they’re typically open from early morning until night.
- Bouchon – Traditionally found in Lyon, you’ll stumble across these throughout your journeys around the city. Serving foundation French specialties, they tend to be fairly meat-heavy, so expect a serving or two of Duck à l’Orange and steak tartare. A mix between a brasserie and fully-fledged fine dining be prepared to experience a class or two of Burgundy’s best Grand Cru or maybe a Côtes-du-Rhône.
- Auberge – These types of restaurants in France are attached to bed and breakfasts, usually family-owned and operated. If you’ve ever stayed in France, there’s a good chance you have experienced a good home-cooked meal at one of these.
- Café – Often casual neighbourhood hangouts but can also have trendier atmospheres. They mainly serve coffee, of course, as well as tea, hot chocolate and light snacks such as toasted sandwiches. Cafes are usually open from morning (roughly 7 am) until evening. Unlike some other establishments in France, cafés do not close mid-day
Best French Restaurants in Melbourne
We love a bit of French cuisine on our plates but where are the best places to go in Melbourne for that authentic French taste? Keep scrolling for the best French Restaurants Melbourne has to offer.
This bustling French bistro is simply bubbling with vibrant dishes made with quality ingredients and warm service. Noir is perfect for a night out of wine drinking and tasting the delightful rich foods of France such as the caramelised Atlantic scallops, confit duck with spiced lentils, beef tartare with Packham pear and woodland sorrel. Try a little bit of everything for a well-rounded taste of France.
Known for: soufflé, rabbit gnocchi
Address: 175 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: +61 3 9428 3585
Trading Hours: Tues-Sun 12pm-2.15pm, 5.30pm-9.15pm
2. Bar Margaux
For those who like eating a little later in the evening, Bar Margaux is the perfect late night bar and brasserie serving up cocktails, wine and French comfort food until the wee hours of the morning. Here you’ll find your French bistro classics like braised meats, baked fish, pomme frites, tartare, escargot and more. Pair with a drink from the extensive list of French wines, champagnes, cocktails and spirits.
Known for: soufflé, duck
Address: Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9650 0088
Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am
3. Bistro Gitan
Located in a beautiful Victorian building, Bistro Gitan is one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne. The contemporary menu is accented by Mediterranean influences and includes delicious plates including freshly sucked oysters, Tasmanian bush pepper berries with chicken liver parfait, spanner crab, spatchcock with mustard crust, gratin dauphinoise and oven baked sea rockling with mushrooms.
Known for: steak tartare,
Address: 52 Toorak Rd West, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9867 5853
Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-11pm
4. Hell of the North
Perfect for a date night out in Melbourne, Hell of the North is oozing with ambiance and atmosphere which perfectly complements their French inspired menu. Wednesday to Friday you can take advantage of the A la carte menu and Saturdays ‘Feed Me’ four course meal is a party for your taste buds. Choose from decadent dishes like ox cheek with bordelaise sauce, mussels in Pernod & fennel cream, cured ocean trout and much more.
Known for: crème brulee, gnocchi parisienne
Address: 135 Greeves St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: +61 3 9417 6660
Trading Hours: Wed-Sat 5.30pm-12am
Philippe is one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne and that mostly comes down to the fact that it is run by the multi-talented Philippe Mouchel who knows his way around a French kitchen. Since his days growing up in Normandy to being mentored by Michelin award winning Paul Bocuse, you are sure to not leave disappointed after trying these delectable and contemporary dishes at Philippe.
Known for: oysters, rotisserie chicken
Address: 115 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 8394 6625
Trading Hours: Tues-Fri 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm, Sat 5.30pm-9.30pm
6. Bistro Guillaume
For a classically rich French menu, Bistro Guillaume is a no brainer. Perfectly situated at the Crown Melbourne, the popular French restaurant has a relaxed airy space to enjoy the decadent dishes such as blue eye trevalla with Grenobloise, Bannockburn chicken with black brioche or a classic steak frites with béarnaise sauce. For dessert there’s a selection of cheeses, profiterole, vanilla bean soufflé and chocolate fondant.
Known for: cheese soufflé, roasted bone marrow
Address: 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: +61 3 9292 5777
Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-4pm
7. France Soir
France-Soir is a bustling joint for foodies to indulge in a little French cuisine without having to go to France. This tiny Melbourne restaurant offers some of the best French food along with expert service and even French speaking waiters, how’s that for authentic. As for the menu, there’s classic French flavours like pork chops in creamy porcini mushroom sauce or rabbit casserole with mustard sauce along with classic French onion soup, escargot and more.
Known for: escargot, tartare
Address: 11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9866 8569
Trading Hours: Mon-Sun 12pm-12am
8. Bon Ap’ Petit Bistro
Bon Ap’ is a café, bar and restaurant all in one, for a morning croissant and coffee, a long boozy lunch or a late night dinner spot you’re sure to enjoy the old world ambiance and comforting French menu. Speaking of the menu you’ll find classics like steak tartare, chicken liver parfait, coq au vin, and the soupe du jour. For dessert grab a classic crème brulée or do as the French do and have an assortment of cheeses pair with a dessert wine.
Known for: mussels in cider, croissants
Address: 193 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: +61 3 9415 9450
Trading Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-11.30pm
9. French Saloon Bar & Bistro
Unfortunately due to restrictions imposed in Victoria, French Saloon Bar & Bistro had to stop operating, for the time being, as a regular restaurant open to the general public. Luckily though, they have rebranded as a space for special events such as weddings, engagements, birthdays etc. The events menu is full of delicious offerings for your special occasion with dishes like whipped cod roe, house cured meats, king salmon, roasted Cape Grim beef, assorted cheeses and an extensive drinks list.
Known for: steak frites, caviar
Address: First Floor, 46 Hardware Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9600 2142
Trading Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm subject to reservation
10. Entrecote South Yarra
Soon to be relocating to a bigger space in Prahan, Entrecote in South Yarra has gone from strength to strength since its inception seven years ago. They’ve got you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some of the best French cuisine in Melbourne. Expect dishes like buttery scallops, steak tartare, angus porterhouse steak with frites, poached chicken, confit pork and much more. Grab a cocktail or wine and you’ve got a feast fit for a French king.
Known for: crème brulee, steak frites
Address: 131-133 Domain Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9804 5468
Trading Hours: Sun-Thur 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-11pm
11. The French Brasserie
The best French restaurants in Melbourne are the ones that make you forget you’re in Melbourne at all, and The French Brasserie does just that. The beautifully and contemporary decorated restaurant offers all the best of French cuisine with excellent and friendly service. Try French cuisine classics like escargot, French onion soup, coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, pomme frites and sweet desserts like crème brulee and chocolate fondant.
Known for: escargot, French onion soup
Address: 2 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9662 1632
Trading Hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10.30pm, Sat 5pm-10.30pm
12. Bistrot d’Orsay
For 25 years Bistrot d’Orsay has been one of the go-to best French restaurants in Melbourne for foodies and French cuisine lovers alike. Step inside and it’s like stepping into a Parisian bistro with dark wood paneling, painted ceilings and low lighting. The food is the real winner with dishes like the goat cheese soufflé, steak tartare, cured Atlantic salmon, roasted lamb shoulder, and the famous Marseille soup, Bouillabaisse, bursting with fresh seafood.
Known for: bouillabaisse, pear tartin
Address: 184 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9654 6498
Trading Hours: Tues 5pm-11pm, Wed-Sat 11.30am-11pm
13. Chez Oliver Le Bistro
This petite Parisian style bistro boasts a big flavourful menu with all the greatest hits of French Cuisine. Enjoy Chez Oliver’s entrees and classic mains like boeuf bourguignon, lamb ragout, confit duck, orange roasted duck, foie gras served with chutney, bisque soup, coq au vin and much much more. For the sweet tooths, they’ve got crème brulee for two, chocolate fondant and a classic and decadent chocolate mousse with orange marmalade.
Known for: smoked foie gras, confit duck
Address: 268 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9525 2273
Trading Hours: Tues-Thurs 6pm-9.30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm, Sat 9am-9pm
What is the best French restaurant in Melbourne?
Some of the most highly rated French Restaurants in Melbourne are The French Brasserie, Philippe, Noir and Bistrot d’Orsay.
What are some traditional French foods?
Traditional French foods include, escargot, coq au vin, foie gras, boeuf bourguignon, French onion soup, cassoulet, confit de canard, soufflé, crème brulee, mousse, fondant.
Where can you find French food in the Melbourne CBD?
French food can be found all over Melbourne especially in the CBD, but the best place is probably South Yarra which is considered Melbourne’s French pocket. It boasts many French inspired cafes, bars, delicatessens and restaurants.