144A King William Road
South Australia 5041
OPEN : Tuesday to Saturday
lunch from 11.30 am and dinner from 5.30 pm [kitchen closes 9.30 pm]
RESERVATIONS : 61 8 7001 9210 – bookings on-line
Facebook – website
BYO : accepted $20 corkage per 750ml bottle [woo hoo no limit on number of bottles!!!]
CHEF : Fabien Streit
RESTAURANT MANAGER : Nazzaerno Falaschetti
AO 18 MARCH 2022
Writing a review for a restaurant that has only been open for less than three months is asking for trouble, but if there is one thing Adelaide has been missing it is a ‘real’ French Bistro. Especially relevant if you’re tired of food that has been plated by five people with tweezers and generally lukewarm by the time it gets to the table and stone cold by the time the wait staff have droned through every single ingredient and endorsed the chef’s amazing cleverness. Mercifully, this is not what true French bistro food is about.
Basically, good French bistro food is home cooking French style, presuming that the average French home cook would have a fair level of skill in the basics from a soufflé to a crème caramel. Now as previously mentioned Bistro Francais has only been open an eye blink…the menus are already looking tatty and the wine list is in much the same state of disarray. It must be said the wine list lacks thought and depth, but the good news is they welcome BYO. We are hoping that some knowledgeable wine buff will take them in hand and help them with a better small list with at least some good wines by the glass, because this is the sort of place that will become the local’s local. You know the type of place where you duck in on your way home, have a couple of entrées or a main, a glass of wine, [or two] and go home leaving them the opportunity for a second sitting. It is also the type of place that after three or four visits the patron will welcome you like his favourite cousin.
Service is shaky…for instance we ordered scallops [coquille] and got prawns [crevettes] but decided to play nice and not complain. Living within 10 minutes we were two Francophiles looking for a quick dinner in true bistro style. We ordered the cheese soufflé, the mushroom crepes, the confit duck leg, and frites and received the prawns instead of the ordered scallops…..all to share. We were not hanging around and the wine list was so discouraging we opted for water.
The cheese soufflé, double cooked, had a perfect texture but the cheese flavour was drowned by Sauce Indienne, a light curry sauce and sacre bleu, it came with crispy fried kale. We will order it again, but minus the sauce and minus the kale. A few sparingly dressed green leaves would be a perfect accompaniment. There was no need to sulk about incorrectly receiving the prawns. They were delicious, perfectly cooked and swimming in a tasty, silken wine and pan juice sauce finished with butter, a splash of acid and plenty of parsley. We barely resisted asking for bread and begged a spoon to demolish the last of the sauce. The crepes were terrific, ample mushroom and cheesy and crispy on the edges topped with a generous pile of potato straws that added a very nice crunch to the dish. The frites were hand cut but not crispy enough for my liking, however, my companion insisted they were true to the French kitchen, although as to which French kitchen she failed to define.
The confit duck leg reminded me of our meal at Café du Palais in Reims in 2018, where bistro cooking has been constantly refined since they opened in 1920 and their fantastic wine list indicates the good taste of their patron. The duck leg was exquisitely tender, the skin a little crispy and it came on a bed of lentils embellished with tiny onions, carrot and roasted shallot all moistened with a splash of jus. Everything was hot and everything was properly seasoned leaving no need to beg for salt and a pepper mill. The only thing that was missing was a couple of glasses of decent Pinot. One can assume that the snails are canned but to be fair they probably would be in France as well. Sadly, the days when Cornelia Vahldieck cooked her sublime fresh snail tart with butter, garlic and parsley at Tapas in Rundle Street East have long passed. We are yet to try the desserts at Bistro Francais.
My companion has been back twice, a decent bottle under her arm and is making it her local. The point is that our bill which was shared was just $105.00 [food only for two] and if anything, their modest prices may not be sustainable. There’s nothing posh about Bistro Francais, tasty simple French style food. You may still have to ask for serving spoons and the like for a while but for the price it is nit picking and it can be expected the service will eventually get it together….what’s not to like?
BELOW : River Torrens Cafè Adelaide.
They do terrific subscriber and Facebook friends special offers.
There’s nothing fussy about their food, or service, or glassware, or wine list; simple tasty modern and classical Mediterranean food.
Check out their Autumn Feast 22 menu…
you’ll need to subscribe but we think it is, not just a great lunch spot in a gorgeous location, but terrific value and parking is easy.
love your local
It’s been many years since we published restaurant reviews…..our credentials two editions of ‘DINE’ published by Wakefield Press and our own self-published Galaxy Guides South Australia. We believe we bring to our restaurant reviews a broad knowledge of not just cooking over multiple cuisines, but running restaurants and as a restaurant consultant know the difference between a ‘bad night’ and a ‘bad restaurant’…click here to read Ann Oliver’s biography.
Our wine comments come with a rarely found depth of knowledge that include Champagne expert Kaaren Palmer and former Galaxy Guides wine editor Alexandra Burridge, whose international wine expertise is invaluable to our wine list reviews. As further proof of expertise, Alex completed the tasting section of Masters of Wine and decided she was too under pressure with work commitments to complete the diseration.
There has never been a more important time to support our local restaurants. In the coming months we’ll be adding favourites with fortnightly honest reviews. It is important to remember if we review a restaurant it means something and if we tell you to only order certain things don’t deviate and don’t moan if you didn’t follow our advice that you didn’t love it.