Eat in: Bastille your beating heart with these French feasts, Melbourne

Jean-Paul Prunetti has made sure that his at home delivery is the best it can be.
Jean-Paul Prunetti has made sure that his at home delivery is the best it can be. Photo: Joe Armao

It's moments like this you wish the Kmart art factory and Airbnb hadn't ruined "keep calm and carry on"'. We could use some Blitz spirit about now.

To be fair to the live, laugh, love crowd, no words of encouragement, however winningly cross-stitched across a pillow, could sum up what the hospitality industry and the rest of us are feeling this week. But the fact is, keeping calm and carrying on is all we can do. So we might as well do it properly.

For the sake of sanity, let's pretend this is a regular Bastille Day, where the biggest care we have in the world is how many calories are in a chocolate souffle. Given what's happening around the globe, it's pretty damn apt.

France-Soir is serving all its delivery orders in glass packaging for sustainability and restaurant experience.
France-Soir is serving all its delivery orders in glass packaging for sustainability and restaurant experience.  Photo: Joe Armao

And as far as "being stuck inside: dead of winter edition" goes, the national day of France provides good fodder for wallowing in your misery. Is anything quite as bad once you cover it in butter? It is not. We can't storm out of our home Bastilles for a while, but we can revolutionise our living rooms for just one day.

Drink the cellar of France-Soir

If you didn't imagine you'd ever see Melbourne's beloved late-night oyster boudoir doing delivery, you weren't the only one. Owner Jean-Paul Prunetti was especially dubious, but after completing 14 days of hotel quarantine and being presented with food in plastic (unacceptable!), he committed to doing it right.

When you order the bistro's escargot drowned in garlicky butter, scallops dressed in caviar, or a carpaccio scattered in truffle, you'll get it in proper, elegant glass vessels to keep. "This isn't pizza," says manager Joe Bails. True.

Escargot from France-Soir in South Yarra.
Escargot from France-Soir in South Yarra.  Photo: Joe Armao

But here's the kicker: France-Soir's service is legendary, but its cellar is more so. Pick up your order, and you can browse the chunky library and take bottles home for 20 per cent off.

Pick up: 11 Toorak Rodd, South Yarra

Duck cassoulet from Philippe

I've already raved about the decades of skill embedded in every dish cooked by Philippe Mouchel, Melbourne's master of the French culinary arts. So while Melbourne has many examples of cassoulet, that rich bean and meat stew said to have fortified troops in the Hundred Years' War, it holds such importance to southwestern France, it's safest to get it from a master.


A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips and three days' hard labour in the prep kitchen, the sausages that lend depth to the stew of white beans are made from scratch, starting about the same time that the duck legs go in for a long slow bath in their own fat. Philippe restaurant is now on the Providoor platform, which means you'll get it delivered cold to finish in your oven.

Pick up: 115 Collins Street, Melbourne

Raclette cheese melted under a special lamp and scraped over a stack of confit potatoes for Maker & Monger.

Raclette cheese served with confit potatoes at Maker & Monger. Photo: Supplied

Raclette from Maker and Monger

Anthony Femia's cheese grills may have become the calling card of his Prahran Market cheese bordello, but his earlier claim to fame was the raclette. From the French verb racler, "to scrape", the foot-ripe cow's milk cheese is a favourite winter dish best eaten fresh out of your ski suit.

At the market, Femia grills an exposed surface of the big wheel and scrapes the lava flow over confit potatoes and pickles. At home, he says you should set a grill to 180 degrees and put slices in a cast-iron skillet until it bubbles and browns then pour over anything you want. Steamed veg is easy, but he recommends roasted parsnips with chorizo; cauliflower poached in stock, and Jerusalem artichokes. 

Pick up: Prahran Market, stall 98, 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra

Secret sauce your world with Entrecote

Jason M. Jones' South Yarra restaurant is unabashedly modelled on Parisian bistro Le Relais De L'Entrecote, a place known equally for its steak frites and its celebrity pervving. Our version stands up, but its best resemblance is made through the rich and vibrant herb sauce for the steaks.

What's in it? Butter by the bucket and anchovy, you guess. Tarragon for certain. A little tang meets more mystery herbs and spices whose composition will go to someone's grave.

The good news is, while most of Entrecote's at-home menu is back online with everything from macarons and Billecart-Salmon fizz to oysters, steaks and mushroom pithiviers for the vegetarian-inclined, the sauce can be bought retail and lashed over anything. Break and drink in case of emergency.

Pick up: 131-133 Domain Road, South Yarra

Chateaubriand en croute from Curly Whiskers

How often does your takeaway come with a certificate of authenticity? Not often enough. Brighton's little bistro serves the show stopper for four as its signature: Cape Grim eye fillet from star butcher Gary McBean is bandaged in prosciutto, smothered in a garlicky mushroom duxelle and mummified in a golden pastry tomb. It is essentially the same as beef Wellington.

Vegan? It's not the most generous cuisine for those who don't do meat or dairy, but the ratatouille here is a rainbow of the right stuff: eggplants, tomatoes, capsicum, all cooked to their most tender point.

Pick up: shop 3, 124 Martin Street, Brighton