Modern new-wave eateries are ubiquitous in Melbourne – whether it be uber-cool Mexican trendsetting Mamasita on the top of Collins to the slick basement that is the Japanese Izakaya Den on Exhibition, our city is brimming with the new. But what about the old? What about the places that have withstood the test of time? Anyone with a decent bank facility and a loose association with a supermarket sponsored guest Masterchef judge can open a restaurant and have the reservation book jammed on the basis that the place is the next big thing.
So it was with this in mind that my Dad, twin brother and I gathered at the mainstay French Toorak Road relic, France - soir. See it was my Dad’s birthday, and he has placed a standing prohibition on being given Architecture books for birthday (and Father’s day) presents after a decade plus and completely heaving full bookshelves of same. We switched the 280g glossy embossed Frank Lloyd Wright books for the equivalent weight France-soir specialty steak. Head-to-head the steak was pound for pound a clear winner.
On a brisk Thursday night we had the pleasure of a nice spot by the window, jammed close to our neighboring tables. Aside from the food here, I love the service. French waiters who take their food and wine seriously and who often start prickly but warm to you after you have first ordered. Our waiter warmed further when the adjacent table filled with a gaggle of 5 attractive women who looked like they would have been sitting in the same spot in the late 80’s with perms and super-sized shoulder padded power suits eying off anyone that looked remotely like a Wall Street dealmaker.
We started with whole grilled calamari with fresh herbs (encornet entier grille aux herbes) and grilled sardines (sardines grilles) washed down with a beautiful La Strada Shiraz chosen at random from the biblical sized wine list.
There is a reason why this place is still around and booming with people. It is the best steak in this city. I still remember coming here for the first time and thinking that I could never eat a pub steak again. So if you do come here, be warned, it will make it very difficult for you to order a steak anywhere else. But, it is definitely worth every cent/bight.