Top 4 French eateries à Melbourne

designyourfrenchlifeas Melbourne is the (self-appointed) culinary capital of Australia, it is often hard to know where the best places are to dine.

I sought out la crème de la crème of French cafes and restaurants in each corner of this magnificent city.

Koots Salle à Manger

I was cursing myself for not making more of an effort with my appearance when entering this posh establishment.

Greeted by a chorus of “bonjours” we were promptly seated next to the open fireplace. I indulged in the Menu du Jour, which consisted of a salad, Poule au Pot, with poached chicken and winter vegetables.

Photos of Koots Salle a Manger, Melbourne

Sharing plate at Koots, via TripAdvisor

There was an awkward moment when my credit card was declined and the waiter joked that I would have to spend the rest of the night “cleaning ze dishes”. Luckily it worked and I left with my pride intact and my stomach satisfied.

Must try: the grain salad with quinoa, snow peas, radish, Persian fetta and balsamic dressing.

Koots Salle à Manger
479 Glenferrie Rd, Kooyong, VIC

Hardware Societe

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Hardware Societe, by Tammy L. on Yelp

The biggest blunder of this particular experience was not booking a table.

Unbeknownst to me, this place is the spot for brunch on Saturday. If you are as unorganised as I, you will be waiting on the sidewalk for a table for over half an hour, as hypnotic French breakfast smells taunt your nostrils.

Once you’re seated, however, there’ll be a mug of coffee in front of you in no time. I received my field mushrooms with romesco, roasted leeks, chèvre cheese and fried eggs within ten minutes of ordering.

Whilst the prices are very reasonable, the only downside is that you can’t pay on credit card.

Must try: Brioche French toast with coconut and passion fruit anglaise and a strawberry crumble

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware st, Melbourne CBD

La Niche

La Niche - via Yelp - My French Life™

Front of La Niche, by Tallulah F. on Yelp

As soon as we walked into La Niche we were transported to the grungy depths of Menilmontant in Paris.

Squeezed onto a table in the front room, the live musician was so close he could’ve joined in on our conversation. But there was something intimate and charming about the proximity of the tables, the whizzing about of the waiters and the rowdiness of the patrons.

My favourite moment: when the (very French) waiter dropped a fork and asked if I could help him by picking it up because, otherwise “my beret might fall off.”

Not the best place in town for vegetarians (the only dish compatible with vegos was the mac and cheese, which was actually, delicious). However, the ever-changing menu is filled with modern French favourites.

La Niche is only open for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights and I would strongly suggest booking.

Must try: Chocolate tart with white chocolate and ice cream. Wash it down with the apple and chestnut liqueur.

La Niche
67 Smith St, Fitzroy, VIC

Chez Dré

Chez Dré - Penny Moodie - My French Life™

Chez Dré interior, by Penny Moodie

This hip, South Melbourne establishment could easily be missed, tucked away down an unassuming cobblestone laneway.

Greeted by a friendly waiter, we were led past the enormous, open kitchen and sat at a wooden, communal table. With high ceilings and an industrial feel, this warehouse conversion has been done beautifully, and the amount of floor space is astonishing.

I ordered the Veggie Petit Dejeuner, with poached eggs on sourdough, potato rosti, sautéed mushrooms, slow roasted tomato and avocado and tomato relish. Delicious flavours, eggs cooked to perfection and doughy bread, this breakfast was a delight.

The real treat of Chez Dré, however, is the fit out itself, and of course, their array of macarons and petits gateaux.

Must try: Any of their famous desserts.

Chez Dré
285-287 Coventry st, South Melbourne

What are your favourite French spots in Melbourne? Add your suggestions to our list by commenting in the box below.

Full yet? Discover the best crêpes in Melbourne.

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Penny Moodie

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  1. Alex Mealey Oct 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM - Reply

    Excellent choices Penny! Chez Dré has superb food. Every time I have been there we have had to wait for a table to free up (they don’t take bookings on weekends), but its worth the wait . And if its a nice day I recommend sitting outside in their courtyard – its lovely!

    I agree that La Niche is a real intimate French experience. The waiters are very French!

    Did you happen to try the coffee at these places? I would love to know which place had the best coffee 🙂

    • Penny Moodie Oct 8, 2013 at 9:10 PM - Reply

      Hi Alex,
      I actually only had coffee at Chez Dre and Hardware Societe since I was having dinner at the other two places but I’d have to say the best was the latter. I would certainly recommend Hardware Societe for brunch- it just has such a lovely atmosphere. I would love any other suggestions if you have them!

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