The history of French cuisine in Melbourne gained momentum in the mid-20th century when a wave of immigration brought skilled chefs and culinary enthusiasts from France to Australia. These individuals infused Melbourne’s culinary landscape with the artistry and sophistication synonymous with French cooking. As a result, the city saw the emergence of the first French-inspired establishments, laying the foundation for what would become a thriving French restaurant scene.
Over the years, the French restaurant scene evolved to incorporate not only traditional French culinary techniques but also global influences that reflect the city’s multicultural identity. Chefs often draw inspiration from various international cuisines, creating a fusion that marries classic French flavours with innovative twists, which is what you’ll find today.
With that said, here’s our edit of the French restaurants you don’t want to miss in Melbourne.
Is there anywhere more iconic than France Soir? We don’t think so. Since 1986, tables and chairs have been filled almost every night. This iconic brasserie has unique character locals are all too familiar with and visitors come to love. It’s where celebrations unfold with oysters and champagne, and waiters expertly navigate between tables, seamlessly calling orders in French. It’s busy and loud, but the food is unmatched. The steak tartare is a must-order, and while we’re at it, the crème brûlée or crêpes Suzette is non-negotiable.
New on Melbourne’s culinary scene, Reine, a Nomad Group venture, invites diners into the opulent Cathedral Room of the former Melbourne Stock Exchange. The grandeur of stained glass windows, Gothic vaulted ceilings, and limestone walls set the stage for a French-inspired menu crafted by Executive Chef Jacqui Challinor. Dishes like lobster cocktails, duck-neck sausage cassoulet, and grilled meats from an ironbark-burning grill fly out of the kitchen. The 700-strong wine list, spanning Australia, France, and America, is overwhelming, but the sommeliers floating around are more than willing to help you choose a tipple for your palate.