At Les Bistronomes, French-born owner-chef Clément Chauvin draws on his impressive résumé to create one of Canberra’s most sophisticated dining experiences. He studied gastronomy in Lyon and Geneva, followed by a notable stint working under Gordon Ramsay in London. Then, he headed up the kitchen at the old Bistro Paris in Sydney.

His classical training is evident on the à la carte menu, where you might find escargots in garlic and parsley butter and boeuf en croute (beef wellington) with mushroom duxelles and foie gras.

But Chauvin’s creativity truly shines on the degustation side. For example, the iced carrot soup features a riff on a sable (a French shortbread biscuit) involving pickled carrots and fennel, which is surrounded by a delicate foam of sheep’s milk yoghurt. Elsewhere, peppered tuna steak and kipfler potatoes are brought together by a fish bone jus and a vierge sauce elevated with the addition of caviar.

A tiny kitchen garden out the back produces fresh herbs for the restaurant, but it’s the community spirit that informs the restaurant’s seasonal dishes. Locals are invited to donate their surplus homegrown produce for a percentage off their next meal.

Wines are predominantly French, with regional Canberran varietals thrown in the mix. Careful curation results in some interesting drops – many of them produced without additives, sulphur and, in one case, electricity.

A place like this would be remiss without a French Martini on the cocktail list. But the European influence is evident in fun house creations such as the Rosé Piscine, made with watermelon liqueur, rosé and soda.

In true French style, the dining room is warm and dimly lit, with dark wooden panelling and red velvet curtains – all the ingredients for a romantic setting.

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Updated: February 14th, 2022

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