Adelaide’s newest late-night spot is not just chic – it’s French.
The new restaurant concept – which will operate between July and December – is a collaboration between two major Adelaide hospitality groups: Big Easy Group (Nola, Bandit Pizza & Wine, House of George et al)) known for their atmospheric venues, and Gonzo Group (Cry Baby, Shotgun Willies and Memphis Slim’s House of Blues), famed for their late-night hospitality.
To helm their first collaboration, the teams have tapped top-tier talent in the form of Alexis Besseau, the French-born head chef behind Sydney’s much-loved Restaurant Hubert. Besseau came to Adelaide to run a Hubert residency at Yiasou George last year and, after urging from patrons and the Big Easy team, started to consider a move to Adelaide. “When I was doing the pop-up I spoke to the guests and eight or nine of them said to me, ‘There’s not many French restaurants in Adelaide. It would be great if a French chef brought a brasserie like Hubert to Adelaide’,” Besseau tells Broadsheet. Only six weeks after arriving in Adelaide, Besseau is fulfilling their wishes with La Louisiane opening on Saturday July 1.
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Like Hubert, La Louisiane is in the basement of a heritage building. You’ll find deep booths and freestanding tables circled with plush red-velvet seating and traditional bentwood chairs. The space is strewn with empty bottles of French champagne, which now house white tapers and French flags. Tables are lit with individual lamps and pendant lighting that reflect a warm glow and bounce off the large French-inspired mural on the back wall. For a new restaurant, the space feels well-established, without a trace of its former life as a bank (or, more recently, as a wings and sports bar Wing It).
“For us, venues are about escapism,” Big Easy Group co-founder Oliver Brown told Broadsheet earlier this month. “We want you to walk down the stairs and feel like you could be anywhere else in the world,” adding that the venue concept is unique to South Australia with live jazz every Friday and Saturday night until late – plus a world-class drinks service that’ll continue until the musicians have played their last note.
Besseau is focusing on classic brasserie dishes, from gruyere cheese soufflé to snails and crème brûlée. Dishes are served on traditional, blue-rimmed bistro plates heaped high with steak frites and pate en croute. Ruby-red steak tartare is served with “pommes gaufrette”, a haute-cuisine answer to waffle-cut chips. There’s a signature burger and fries (which dare we say might compete with Hubert’s cult cheeseburger) and a vegetarian main (a mushroom dish served with parsnip and persillade sauce). The fourth and final main is an ode to Besseau’s hometown of Nantes, a market fish served with a beurre blanc (a butter and fish stock emulsion) with dill oil. “Some people think French food is heavy but we’ve tried to make it as light as possible so everyone can enjoy an entrée, main, dessert,” says Besseau. “Then finish the meal and have more cocktails.”
The drinks service is curated by Memphis Slim’s co-owner and bartender Michael Keogh. Expect French wines (and French varietals from Australian vineyards) as well as signature and classic cocktails. While the whole cocktail list is impressive, the showstopper will surely be the Le Lou’s Martini, served with a tableside raft of additional elements to modify your drink to your exact specifications, including zest, olives, cocktail onions, herb oil.
89 King William Street, Adelaide