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Food, Travel

Bistrot Bisou by Luke Mangan in Hotel Indigo Melbourne

Savour classic French fare with modern twists while delighting in two-sip martinis and absinthe aperitifs at Luke Mangan’s new Melbourne restaurant Bistrot Bisou, officially opening tomorrow. We were invited to a media dinner to experience this new French bistro for ourselves, and we were highly impressed with the stunning food and beverage offerings, as well as the high level of service and classy fit out.
Team Luke Mangan and Rory Kennedy
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There were many "showstopper" moments at our dinner. In fact this is the place to go if you want to move from "serviceable to showstopper". The menu was a string of hit dishes and the cocktails and wines were exceptional. A highlight is the 3 woodfire flame grills which provided a spectacular backdrop to our dining experience, as well as bringing maximum flavour to dishes such as Lobster Thermidor, Rib Eye and Market Fish.
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Located on the busy corner of Flinders Lane and Spencer Street at the new Hotel Indigo Melbourne on Flinders, the warm and welcoming bistro is the chef and restaurateur’s first venue back in his hometown in more than a decade.

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Mangan and head chef Rory Kennedy (Vex Dining and Bar Romantica) have created a sumptuous menu that pays homage to the progressive yet relaxed style of France’s dining scene.

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Sink into leather banquettes as you begin your French culinary affair with a curated selection of fruit de mer, including a deconstructed prawn cocktail with marie rose sauce, salmon fumé with crème fraîche, egg dressing and toast, as well as raw scallop with confit potato and in-season truffle verjus.

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Drinks 2 Sips Duke

Food Steak tartare Image Glen Percival

Move onto an array of comforting French dishes for hors d'oeuvres, including cheese soufflé with gruyère and nutmeg, a daily soup du jour, steak tartare with cornichons and quail egg, and chicken liver parfait with pear and shallot relish.

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Perfect for sharing or enjoying solo are plats - or mains - like onion and cheese galette, salad niçoise, confit of duck leg, wood-roasted poussin and sirloin au poivre. There is also a decadent lobster thermidor, a traditional French dish made with WA lobster and a rich and creamy béchamel sauce of brandy, cheese and mustard, which is cooked over Bistrot Bisou’s signature woodfire flames before being melted under the grill.

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Be sure to save room for dessert, like the apple tarte tatin, featuring apples soaked in French liqueur Calvados, and served with vanilla bean ice-cream, or an assortment of French and Australian cheeses and a perfectly paired nightcap.

Food Apple Tarte Tatin Images Jana Langhorst

Mangan, who trained under acclaimed chef Michael Roux at Michelin-starred London restaurant Waterside Inn and returns to France each year, says Bistrot Bisou offers simple dishes done well, at an affordable price in a vibey European setting.

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“We want this to feel like a second home for guests, whether they’re Melbourne locals or visitors wanting a relaxed place to dine after a long day of sightseeing,” he says.

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“The French bistros of Paris have an ambience about them no matter what time of day or night it is, which is what we are creating here.”

While the 96-seat dining room, with its mix of plush cream carpet and ornate ivory tiling, gold pendant lighting and custom-made rattan chairs, may be the hero of the space, the intimate corner bar with bright red leather bar stools and floor-to-ceiling windows over Spencer Street isn’t to be missed.

Exterior 2 Images Jana Langhorst

Restaurant and bar manager Tim Davey (French Saloon) has created a stylish and fun cocktail list, boasting eight martinis, including the Two-Sips Duke made with frozen Tanqueray No. 10 gin, Dolin dry vermouth and a lemon twist.

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There is also Bistrot Bisou’s signature cocktail, the “Tomber dans les Pommes”, crafted with Plantation 3 Stars white rum, Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, Pineau des Charentes, Dubonnet and green apple, as well as a selection of French aperitifs like Pernod, Ricard and Absinthe Bourgeois.

Interior Bar 4 Images Jana Langhorst

A sharp, international wine list features Taittinger Champagne by the glass and a selection of French wines from Beaujolais, the Loire Valley and Burgundy, as well as from Victorian regions like Mornington Peninsula, Heywood and the Yarra Valley. 

“We’ll be offering a selection of wines on coravin, including a delicious Bordeaux perfect for these cold winter nights,” Davey says.

“The wine list will be a living and breathing document that evolves with the seasons and our menu.”

Interior Dining Room 4 Images Jana Langhorst

The venue is open for dinner from 5.30pm to late, Tuesday to Saturday, and for lunch from 12-3pm on Thursdays and Fridays. For more information and reservations, visit