Mon dieu, bistros are on the boil in Perth
Mon dieu, bistros are on the boil in Perth

It's a French revolution, but there's no mob in the streets and no guillotine. In fact, the only thing being well-executed in the French food craze sweeping Perth is steak with bearnaise sauce, onion soup and duck liver parfait.

Two big openings this year have seen the French fad become a bona-fide restaurant trend: Bistro Des Artistes in Subiaco and the Bistro Guillaume at Burswood Entertainment Complex are serious undertakings from French chefs looking to make money and have fun at the bistro end of the French dining spectrum.

"I just want to cook the food I enjoy and serve it in a relaxed neighbourhood bistro style. It's how I like to eat," Bistro Guillaume owner, Guillaume Brahimi said. "It's about having fun.

"We'll be doing roast chicken, whole fish baked in a salt crust, freshly shucked oysters. We'll be hand-chopping beef to order for steak tartare and chocolate souffle will be a signature."

Bistro Guillaume is scheduled to open at Burswood in early Sept- ember after an $8 million back-to-concrete fit-out. It will be similar to Brahimi's Melbourne bistro, where staff wear lime green Lacoste crew shirts and sneakers, drinks are served from a zinc-topped bar and the room is lit by the restaurant's signature "French petticoat" light pendants.

"We will make some changes to the menu for Perth," Brahimi said. "For instance, we'll have Krug (champagne) on the wine list because Perth people want it. We'll probably do more seafood, too."

Celebrated Perth chef Alain Fabregues is fronting the French revolution in Subiaco, where his two-week-old Bistro Des Artistes has been an instant hit. Like Brahimi, the creation of a bistro "diffusion" brand is a response to changing Australian dining habits.

Both men own highly regarded, high-end French restaurants on which they have built their reputations, but both clearly enjoy the possibilities of serving simple bistro food at good prices and with good margins.

Fabregues, who has teamed up with TV chef and patissier Emmanuel Mollois for the Bistro des Artistes project, says there's an honesty about bistro food.

Also joining Perth's French revolution are Le Poisson d'Or in Fremantle and P'tite Ardoise bistro in Highgate and another Subiaco newcomer, La Brasserie.

A left-of-centre inclusion in the new French bistro brigade is Wee (a play on the French word for "yes", apparently), the brainchild of Scottish chef Ian Lawless, the owner of Leederville's chic Kitsch Bar. Wee is scheduled to open later this year.

The West Australian

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