We owe a lot of our culinary terms to the French. Chefs, sommeliers and maître d’s? All français. The same goes for the front- and back-of-house structures of modern restaurants, which originated in eighteenth-century Paris.
As for French food itself, it often springs to mind when picturing restaurants and dining. Almost every chef started training in classical French cooking. For a good reason: Gallic gastronomic techniques are the cornerstone of modern cuisine. Melbourne has no shortage of excellent French restaurants worth your time. From brasseries and bistros, to bastions of both haute and nouvelle cuisine.
It's not tricky to live so Frenchy, so chic in Melbourne. Bistros and Boulangerie-style bakeries are scattered all across the city. It’s no secret Melbourne’s bustling dining scene owes a tip of the hat to some of the originators of modern cuisine— from degustation to À la carte, France has led the way.
Throughout the city, there are several outlets for sampling authentic French cooking, from high-end fine diners to low-frills patisseries.
Here are some of the best French restaurants in Melbourne.
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 various 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.
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 – Like 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 French foundation 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, 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
13 Best French Restaurants in Melbourne
From quiche and croque monsieur, to soufflé and sweet, sweet camembert. French cuisine is something we will never tire of. Luckily for us, Melbourne is spoilt for choice when it comes to traditional French fare.
An array of bistros, cafés, brasseries and restaurants make it their business to fill us with the best that France has to offer. NB: importantly, the libations at each of these institutions are equally as commendable as their cuisine.
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.
A cute little spot to try is Noir. It’s a humble bistro-style diner inspired by the South of France. Typically humming with the local crowds, the quality food and good energy have cemented Noir as one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne.
After a snack and glass of wine, quick dinner, or full night event, Noir covers all bases—serving hearty dishes and creating a warm atmosphere. Their menu is filled with a little bit of everything to suit all palates, from novice French diners to well-established veterans.
- Known for: soufflé, rabbit gnocchi
- Address: 175 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121
- Trading Hours: Tues-Sun 12pm-2.15pm, 5.30pm-9.15pm
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 fries, tartare, escargot and more. Pair with a drink from the extensive list of French wines, champagnes, cocktails and spirits.
Bar, diner, subterranean French paradise, Bar Margaux has it all. The CBD based haunt has serious early 20th century vibes with checkered floors, dark stained woods and booth seating.
The self-described bar and brasserie have a selection of quality French snacks and plates like king prawns with cafe dé Paris alongside top-shelf cocktails and wines. It’s also open to 5 am, which means it can save your night.
- Known for: soufflé, duck
- Address: Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 5 pm-1 am, Fri-Sat 5 pm-3 am
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. It includes delicious plates including freshly shucked 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
- Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-11pm, Sat 6pm-11pm
Hell of the North
Perfect for a date night out in Melbourne, Hell of the North is oozing with ambience and atmosphere, which perfectly complements their French-inspired menu.
Wednesday to Friday, you can take advantage of the A la carte menu, and Saturday‘ 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.
Stylish, modern and French. Three things that make Hell of the North the place for Francophile foodies. Serving up a refined menu of classics, you’ll find all your favourite French dishes – parfait, gratin and tartare included. A must-try on the menu is their moreish French onion soup – a winter warmer that’s dressed to impress.
Pouring an amazing selection of wine and beer, be sure to consult the team on the best match for what you want to order. Or if you are confident in your sommelier abilities, BYO on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Known for: crème brûlée, gnocchi parisienne
- Address: 135 Greeves St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
- Trading Hours: Wed-Sat 5.30 pm-12 am
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.
From 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.
Chef Philippe Mouchel has created one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne. The basement space features shards of natural light, white linen and walls sprouting leafy greens. The resulting restaurant, Philippe, features a classically French menu of dishes like crispy-skin roast chicken anointed with truffles (they need two days prior-warning), escargot and four types of steak if you include the new-fangled tartare.
- Known for: oysters, rotisserie chicken
- Address: 115 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Trading Hours: Tues-Fri 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm, Sat 5.30pm-9.30pm
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 fries with béarnaise sauce.
For dessert, there’s a selection of cheeses, profiterole, vanilla bean soufflé and chocolate fondant.
Bistro Guillaume is a treasure in Crown’s restaurant precinct. Featuring some of Melbourne’s best French food in the CBD, try out their rich crowd favourites, from Duck Confit to their iconic Boeuf en Croute—a crispy pastry filled with the most tender meat.
Their seafood is also worth a mention, which includes the freshest oysters and finest Tasmanian crayfish. For a fine dining experience, you’ll long return to Bistro Guillaume, a diner truly worth its salt.
- Known for: cheese soufflé, roasted bone marrow
- Address: 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
- Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-4pm
France-Soir is a bustling joint for foodies to indulge in a little French cuisine without going 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 are classic French flavours like pork chops in creamy porcini mushroom sauce or rabbit casserole with mustard sauce and classic French onion soup, escargot and more.
A restaurant that has aged just as well as the city, France Soir, is Melbourne's premier French institution. The Toorak Road gem has been serving traditional style cuisine with an authentic, irreverent attitude since it opened back in1986.
This non-gentrified marvel has retained its seriously cool reputation by sticking to what they do best, dishing up a range of regional entrees and plats de Résistance, except everything from frog legs to house-made terrine—snails in garlic butter and more. If it’s the best french restaurant you’re looking for, this just might be it.
- Known for: escargot, tartare
- Address: 11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
- Trading Hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm-12 am
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 ambience 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 paired with a dessert wine.
- Known for: mussels in cider, croissants
- Address: 193 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
- Trading Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-11.30pm
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 a whipped cod roe, house-cured meats, king salmon, roasted Cape Grim beef, assorted cheeses and an extensive drinks list.
- Known for: steak fries, caviar
- Address: First Floor, 46 Hardware Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Trading Hours: Mon-Sat 12 pm-11 pm subject to reservation
Entrecote South Yarra
Soon to be relocating to a bigger space in Prahran, 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 cuisines in Melbourne.
Expect dishes like buttery scallops, steak tartare, Angus porterhouse steak with fries, poached chicken, confit pork and much more. Grab a cocktail or wine, and you’ve got a feast fit for a French king.
All you can eat is French Fries. If that's not enough to lure you in, Entrecote's new primo Greville Street location should sweeten the deal. Inspired by the steakhouse, French Le Relais De L'Entrecôte, this reimagined Melbourne institution’s steak Frites (steak and chips) is truly otherworldly.
While the food is exquisite, the venue is filled with glass chandeliers, golden candlesticks and colours resembling the french flag—a worthy mention amongst the best French restaurants in Melbourne.
- Known for: crème brulee, steak frites
- Address: 131-133 Domain Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
- Trading Hours: Sun-Thur 7 am-10 pm, Fri-Sat 7 am-11 pm
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 et sweet desserts like crème brûlée et chocolat fondant.
Home to some of the most traditional French cuisine in Melbourne, The French Brasserie prides itself on authentic food. The contemporary atmosphere is inviting, and the team is dedicated to meeting every need.
Enjoy classic dishes like Coq au Vin and decadent desserts like chocolate fondant. The goal at The French Brasserie is to provide Melburnians with food and an experience that reflects French heritage and culture. A job well done.
- Known for: escargot, French onion soup
- Address: 2 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Trading Hours: Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10.30pm, Sat 5pm-10.30pm
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 panelling, 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 soap, Bouillabaisse, bursting with fresh seafood.
- Known for: bouillabaisse, pear tatin
- Address: 184 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Trading Hours: Tues 5pm-11pm, Wed-Sat 11.30am-11pm
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 tooth, 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
- Trading Hours: Tues-Thurs 6pm-9.30pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm, Sat 9am-9pm
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
Some of the most highly rated French Restaurants in Melbourne are The French Brasserie, Philippe, Noir and Bistrot d’Orsay.
Traditional French foods include, escargot, coq au vin, foie gras, boeuf bourguignon, French onion soup, cassoulet, confit de canard, soufflé, crème brûlée, mousse, fondant.
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.
A bistro is a small French restaurant, originally found in Paris, that serves simple local fare at moderate prices in a modest setting. They are often defined by their menu of French home-style cooking, cassoulet, bean stews, and dishes like coq au vin, potato-leek soup, and roasted chicken are typical.
Sandwich boards outside a bistro may advertise the day's specials. French onion soup and mussels a la mariniere are typical examples of French bistro food. Coq au vin, which is chicken in wine, is a classic dish. American restaurants may also serve roast pork, Italian dishes made with portobello mushrooms and Asian duck.
When you’ve got a craving for escargot and a little soup 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 French 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!