The round-up: celebrate the finer things at Brisbane’s best French restaurants
We subscribe to the notion that food is a primary reason for being. Out of all of the historic European-born cuisines, perhaps French food reflects this mentality the most. In French cooking, indulgence is intrinsic to its character – rich and hearty flavours abound, creating plates that evoke warmth, nostalgia, ecstasy and contentment in equal measure. This intense sensory response is probably what makes French cuisine popular globally and we’re fortunate enough to boast some terrific French-inspired eateries here in Brisbane. Here’s some of the best …
Montrachet, Bowen Hills: Few restaurants are as synonymous with French cuisine as Montrachet – the heralded eatery has sat atop the pinnacle of Brisbane’s restaurant scene since it opened in Paddington in 2004. Montrachet has been owned and operated by internationally lauded chef Shannon Kellam and his wife Clare since 2015, and the couple have continued to rack up accolade after accolade while instigating a relocation of the restaurant to King Street. Montrachet’s front-of-house staff cater to every whim with alacrity, capably ferrying plates of decadent foie gras with apple compote, celeriac ravioli with whipped truffled potato, double-baked soufflé with crab meat and gruyère cheese, and pan-roasted Warilba lamb saddle on a bed of soft polenta to your table.
Bisou Bisou, Fortitude Valley: In France, ‘un bon repas doit commencer par la faim’. Sorry, that means ‘a good meal starts with hunger’. A commonsense notion, sure, but it holds a special weight when referring to Bisou Bisou. The menu that the Ghanem Group’s flirty French bistro is loaded with indulgent flavours and the portions here are substantial. After a meal consisting of steak tartare with tête de moine, scallops and leek on warm brioche, a whole rotisserie chicken with wild-mushroom ragoût, pomme aligot (potato puree, cream and cheese) and a Mont Blanc for dessert, you’ll wish you had three stomachs.
La Cache à Vin, Spring Hill: Before he opened this exquisite subterranean restaurant and wine store, Thierry Galichet was head honcho at Montrachet – so you know he has a formidable pedigree when it comes to French hospitality. La Cache à Vin draws influence from the subterranean cellars of Burgundy, offering a menu of Lyonnaise-influenced dishes like mille-feuille aux escargot, canard à l’orange, grilled quail with truffle gnocchi and roasted lamb rump with smoked speck. You’d be remiss to not check out the wine list – there are some drops here you’re not likely to find elsewhere.
C’est Bon, Woolloongabba: Self-described as an authentic French quarter situated in the heart of Wolloongabba, C’est Bon is a multi-faceted abode that offers everything from breakfast bites through to evening digestifs. Inside sits a chic and elegant restaurant, bar and private cellar, while outside guests can soak up the ambience on the garden terrasse or rooftop bar. C’est Bon’s a la carte menu features Parissienne gnocchi, Queensland quail à l’orange and côte de boeuf with café de Paris, potato and marrow – all perfectly on point.
Greenglass, Brisbane City: When it opened, the Greenglass team elected to curate much of its culinary offering in response to its established wine selection. This proved to be a stroke-of-genius move, as French cuisine naturally lends itself to wine pairings. Dishes such as Greenglass’ roast-chicken ballotine with buttery mash, beetroot gnocchi with crispy duck confit, ratatouille mille-feuille with parmesan foam and crab ravioli with carrot cream are must-try items. Trust us.
Aquitaine, South Bank: This riverside brasserie deftly pairs its elegant surrounds with a menu of sumptuous classic and contemporary French eats (and a stellar wine list, to boot). Aquitaine’s menu draws influence from the famed southwestern prefecture L’Aquitaine, with a la carte and degustation options available. Guests can sit down to a feast of sous vide white Pyrenees lamb eye of the loin, gnocchi niçoise, fresh local seafood bouillabaisse and 120-Day grain-fed, dray-aged angus côte de boeuf with some great views of the city skyline on the side.
Le Coin, Red Hill: Bringing a slice of French bistro culture to Red Hill is gorgeous corner locale Le Coin, which offers locals something for breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus snacks, of course). Highlights include the delightfully crispy tarte flambee (a French riff on the pizza that’s best shared with pals), salad nicoise, homemade pork, veal and duck terrines, home-cured salmon and prawn beignets, poission en papillots and Dijon-marinated spatchcock.
La Belle Vie Bistro, Bardon: Perched in the leafy hills of Bardon, La Belle Vie is all about living up to its namesake and celebrating ‘the good life’. The team does this via its menu infused with passion and quality ingredients, executed by an experienced team led by head chef Samuel Perrin, who was trained by the famed Alain Ducasse. La Belle Vie’s a la carte menu features entrees likes oven-melted French camembert and grilled king prawns with gambas bisque, while larger plates offer the likes of salmon baked in tin foil with beurre blanc sauce and wagyu sirloin on the bone with a serve of French fries. Yep, that’s the good stuff!
Haig Road Bistro, Auchenflower: The fare at this neo-French bistro is the epitome of hearty. Head chef Yann Bouton’s twice-baked roquefort soufflé with red-wine-poached pear, oven-roasted duck with braised red cabbage, confit ocean trout with smoked mussels emulsion and glazed crepe with Grand Marnier sauce and ice-cream are simply to die for. You can’t go wrong with any choice, especially if you’ve got a glass of French champagne or heady red from Bordeaux within reach.
Boucher Bistro, Graceville: Get cosy and treat yourself to some phenomenal bistro delights at charming neighbourhood eatery Boucher. We’re talking chateaubriand for two with Lyonnaise potatoes and roast carrots, orange-and-soy roast duck breast, braised beef cheeks with buttery mash and classic steak tartare. An on-site champagne and wine bar stocks bottles of vino from storied wine regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Alsace and Bourgogne, so we suggest ordering a bottle to really elevate your experience.
The French Table, Cleveland: One of Brisbane’s best kept secrets is The French Table – a bayside gem and hub of French culinary delights. The menu is worth spending a minute or three browsing – we guarantee you’ll be tempted to get an appetiser (baguette with truffle butter), entree (whole roasted camembert with onion chutney), plat principal (two-way pork belly with herb croquettes or ratatouille ravioli) and dessert (creme brulee or Paris-brest). When it comes to French food, you can’t have too much of a good thing!
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