The Melbourne dining scene is probably unrivalled in Australia. Sydney runs it close, but Melbourne’s thriving restaurant scene is a true foodie’s paradise.
Sampling everything that Melbourne has to offer is an impossibility, unless you have a ridiculous budget, unlimited time and the capacity to ingest thousands of additional daily calories.
Assuming that none of these apply to our readers, we have attempted to fine-tune a list of excellent French and Mediterranean restaurants, bistros and eateries, that deserve your attention and custom.
French gastronomy is one of the world’s classic cuisines and is hugely influential. Mediterranean cuisine overlaps and shares some similarities but is generally seen to be ‘lighter’ with a focus on vegetables, legumes, minimally processed grains, fish and smaller amounts of meat and dairy.
French food is generally ‘richer’ with a greater emphasis on classic sauces (hollandaise, bechamel, etc), whereas Mediterranean sauces are more organic and stock-based. The further south one travels in France, the greater the influence of Mediterranean cuisine on the food and lifestyle.
Melbourne, as befits its status of a major hub of fine-dining, has dozens of restaurants that serve a fusion of classic Mediterranean and French dishes. Let us guide you through some of the most inventive European food east of the Bosphorus.
Location: 175 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121 / Tel: (03) 9428 3585
Located on Swan street, Noir is a bustling French bistro that offers a selection of vibrant dishes, with the restaurant priding itself on the use of fresh and local ingredients.
Known for its modern decor and welcoming atmosphere, Noir’s small, cosy and intimate space is the perfect place to spend an evening with close friends, where you can sample its excellent wine list and inventive food.
This part of Richmond (and neighbouring Cremorne) has recently attracted many young businesses to its start-up, tech-friendly environment. The Noir lunch menu is perfect for a quick, efficient business lunch – limited choice, fixed price, promptly served (optional glass of house wine) – and is well worth a try.
Offering a wide menu of classic dishes, Noir’s dinner menu is lauded for its confit duck, as well as its caramelized scallops and rabbit gnocchi.
Looking for an easy-to-make snack? Check out our Savoury Vegetable Feta Muffin Recipes
Location: 48 Pier St, Altona VIC 3018
Just a few minutes walk from Altona’s attractive beachfront, Mosaic Bar & Eatery provides a comfortable and relaxed dining experience that befits its Mediterranean cuisine.
The bayside suburb of Altona is a 30 minute drive (allow longer during the week) from Melbourne’s CBD, and a booking at the award-winning Mosaic restaurant makes it a worthwhile endeavour.
Mosaic features vibrant Mediterranean cuisine with a modern Australian influence, a tapas share plate menu, beers on tap and a wide range of cocktails to choose from.
Mosaic is an ideal choice for relaxed lunches and dinners alike or just chilled drinks at the bar. The ambience is of a relaxed bar with a menu to suit everybody.
Looking for a beer garden? Mosaic has its very pleasant Valletta Lounge, with a relaxing outdoor green space and chilled beachside vibe.
Editor’s Note: Mosaic has been reported as closed (July 2022). We will let you know if we hear more.
Location: Basement/111 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Tel: (03) 9650 0088
If you are the kind of person who prefers to eat late into the evening, then you may well adore this stunning brasserie.
Featuring a well-stocked bar, this restaurant offers signature cocktails, delicious wines and French comfort food throughout the night, which means you can sit down and sample some classic dishes until the early hours of the morning.
When visiting this particular establishment, you will find such French classics as escargot, Pomme Frites and braised meat, although you can also order baked fish, souffle and roast duck.
Location: 52 Toorak Rd West, South Yarra VIC 3141 / Tel: (03) 9867 5853
Based in a stunning Victorian revival, Bistro Gitan is recognisably one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne, with the contemporary menu offering classic dishes with a unique Mediterranean twist.
From the minute you open your menu you will be intrigued by the options on offer. The kitchen doesn’t play safe but serves modern twists on such classic French dishes as chicken liver parfait, spatchcock with mustard crust and sea rockling with fried mushrooms.
All dishes are delicious, authentic and generously flavoured.
Location: 135 Greeves St, Fitzroy VIC 3065 / Tel: (03) 9417 6660
Perfect for a romantic dinner with your favorite person, Hell of the North is a French restaurant that is known for its ambience and atmosphere, with a diverse menu offering some of the best Mediterranean-inspired food in the whole of Australia.
During the week, this particular establishment offers a la carte menus and weekend special, such as four-course meals, that promise to make your taste buds sing.
So the next time you fancy braised ox cheek or mussels in fennel cream, remember this restaurant and give them a call.
Location: 115 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Tel: (03) 8394 6625
First established by Philippe Mouchel, this French restaurant is considered to be one of the best in Melbourne, with Mouchel’s culinary mastery showcased to full effect.
Born and raised in Normandy, Mouchel was trained by the great Paul Bocuse. This impeccable pedigree is diplayed in the quality of food on offer. It’s creative, vibrant and infused with rich flavour.
If you get a chance to visit this particular establishment, then we highly recommend sampling the oysters, although the rotisserie chicken also remains a popular crowd-pleaser.
Location: 8, Riverside, Crown Melbourne, Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006 (within Crown Casino) / Tel: (03) 9292 5777
If you want to sample a classic French menu, then Bistro Guillaume is the perfect place for you.
Based in Crown Melbourne, this popular French restaurant remains one of the best in the whole city, with its decadent dishes and rich atmosphere making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Boasting a wide menu of delicious options, this establishment offers classic dishes such as cheese souffle, steak frites with bearnaise sauce and a sinful chocolate fondant.
Location: 11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141 / Tel: (03) 9866 8569
This relaxed establishment is the perfect place to sample some authentic French cuisine, with the restaurant boasting a wide selection of delicious food and French-speaking staff.
While France Soir does not reinvent the wheel, it does offer many of the classic French dishes such as rabbit casserole and French onion soup, traditional escargot and tartare. It’s a true brasserie.
Location: 193 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065 / Tel: (03) 9415 9450
The next entry on our list is what we could call a triple threat, as it’s a bar, cafe and restaurant all in one. So if you feel like a morning pastry or an evening meal, this establishment has everything you need.
Sporting comfortable decor and a welcoming atmosphere, this restaurant boasts a wide selection of classic French dishes, which include offerings such as steak tartare, chicken liver parfait and a decadent creme brulee.
Just make sure to pair your food with a bottle of delicious wine and you will get to live out the full French experience.
Location: First Floor, 46 Hardware Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Tel: (03) 9600 2142
Open for weddings, engagements and birthdays, this French restaurant is the perfect place to celebrate your special day, no matter the occasion.
Offering ambience and atmosphere, this establishment boasts a large menu of delicious French classics, which include notable offerings such as whipped cod, steak frites, assorted cheeses and cured meats.
If you want to know more about this restaurant, just click here!
Location: 142-144 Greville St, Prahran VIC 3181 / Tel: (03) 9804 5468
Established seven years ago, Entrecote has fast become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, with the classy French restaurant offering some of the best food in the whole of Melbourne.
It’s chic, trendy and situated in a character-filled street in a fascinating part of town.
Covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, this establishment promises authentic French cuisine made with fresh and delicious ingredients, with the menu yielding notable dishes such as porterhouse steak, poached chicken, creme brulee and Pommes Frites.
Location: 2 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Tel: (03) 9662 1632
If you want to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, then we recommend checking out the French Brasserie, which promises to teleport you to the streets of France.
Not only does this beautiful restaurant capture the aesthetic of a Parisian eatery, but it also offers some of the most delicious French food in the city.
Complete with friendly service and comfortable seating, this establishment boasts a wide menu of tasty meals, which include classics such as escargot, coq au vin and beef bourguignon.
Location: 3/154 Barkly St, Footscray VIC 3011
This is a charming and bustling bistro in trendy Footscray in the inner west. It’s chilled, laid-back, friendly and unpretentious. Rather like the suburb itself.
The bar serves rustic French food, in generous portions, with an extensive selection of classic French wines and digestives.
There’s also a wonderful selection of French cheeses in the delightfully named Footscray Fromagerie, which is also part of the the Small French Bar group, and shares the venue. The Footscray Fromagerie stocks quality cheeses made by artisan French cheese producers.
Editor’s Note: If you love your cheese, read our article on vegan cheeses. You’ll be surprised just how tasty plant-based cheese can be.
The Small French bar is a real-find in the heart of Footscray and well-worth checking out.
Location: 184 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 / Tel: (03) 9654 6498
Considered one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne, Bistrot d’Orsay has remained a popular eatery for 25 years, with the establishment offering a wide menu of classic French cuisines.
Styled after a Parisian bistro, this restaurant boasts dark wood panelling, painted ceilings and warm lighting, as well as delicious food and friendly staff.
So, if you are ever in the mood to sample roasted lamb shoulder or cured Atlantic salmon, then this is the place to go.
If you want to know more about this restaurant, just click here!
Location: 22 Beatty Ave, Armadale Vic 3143 / Tel: (03) 9824 8022
Situated in the upmarket suburb of Armadale, and featuring a cosy dining room and picturesque courtyard, this adorable French bistro is the very definition of Parisian.
Sporting a wide selection of classic French dishes, Chez Bob allows locals to sample some of the best food that France has to offer, from rabbit terrine to poussin with sage butter. Although this small, unassuming venue may get overlooked, it deserves your attention.
The quality of produce is excellent and in the best French cooking tradition, simple ingredients are transformed into wonderfully artful food.
Chez Bob has a loyal local following and delivers consistently accomplished French cuisine. Give it a chance.
Location: 268 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141 / Tel: (03) 9525 2273
Although this stunning bistro may seem petite on the outside, it currently offers one of the largest menus in the city.
Featuring classic French dishes such as beef bourguignon, chocolate fondant and duck a l’orange – this is the perfect place to sample authentic French cuisine, accompanied by a extensive selection of excellent wine. It’s a friendly, warm bistro, with a cosy ambiance.
If you’re looking for a Valentines Day option, consider this restaurant. It’s undeniably got a romantic feel.
Location: Melbourne CBD
Based in an underground basement, this rustic restaurant is the lovechild of Chef Florent Gerardin and Mykal Bartholomew, who have worked together to create an establishment that fights against the stereotypes of French cuisine.
It is a multi-awarded contemporary French restaurant that has an impeccable pedigree.
Boasting a wide selection of creative dishes, Oter restaurant offers classic options such as warm cheese tarts and fried crepes filled with ham, as well as more inventive alternatives such as chicken offal with black truffle and dashi.
Editor’s Note: Oter, in Flinders Lane, has been reported as closed.