First look: French Saloon, Melbourne
Author: Michael Harden
Photography: Tess Kelly
12:41PM, Feb 9, 2016
The opening of an operator's seventh venue should almost
engender fatigue in even the most committed fans. But the
combination of Con Christopoulos, Ian Curley and Josh Brisbane
(European, City Wine Shop, Spring Street Grocer, Kirk's Wine Bar et
al) always turns heads because the businesses they open are all
genuinely interesting. They're individual and well designed, and
show a consistent capacity to leap from the box poised and
confident. The latest, French Saloon, is all those things, starting
with a particularly gorgeous room fashioned from a former apartment
above Kirk's Wine Bar in the CBD. There's a vintage zinc-topped bar
imported from France, a tiny and adorable courtyard, banks of
windows adding to the room's sense of space, a painted timber
floor, classic timber bistro furniture and, for a flash of colour,
a red ceiling.
The menu, designed by Curley in collaboration with head chef Todd Moses (late of Supernormal), is a solid bistro don't-scare-the-horses affair built on the foundation of good ingredients and skilful cooking. Cured kingfish shares a plate with carrot slices and a mildly spicy gravlax dressing with confit yolk crumbled over the top. Carpaccio is served with pickled green chilli and whole anchovies while blood sausage is teamed prettily with thin slices of beetroot and apple. There's dry-aged steak, flounder roasted whole and served with shellfish butter, oysters, caviar and a good range of cheese and dessert, including gelati from the group's own Gelateria Primavera (the fior de latte is a classic). The booze list, as user-friendly as the menu, leans towards the French and includes a good selection of apéritifs. French Saloon may be the seventh go-around for these guys but it shows no sign of repetitive strain.
French Saloon, level 1, 380-384 Little Bourke St (enter from Hardware La), Melbourne, (03) 9600 2142; open Mon-Fri 12pm-11pm.