Philippe is the new venture by Philippe Mouchel, the Normandy-born chef and protégé of the legendary Paul Bocuse, a fixture of Melbourne dining since 1991.
The basement venue had many existing virtues when Mouchel moved in – its wave-like roof, painted floor and exposed brickwork – but architects Crossier Scott helped warm it up, mainly via lighting.
There is a long zinc bar and living gardens on the walls. The open kitchen is the nucleus of Philippe. From anywhere in the restaurant you’ll hear orders called in French. Mouchel has drafted Aurelien Gransagne, formerly of the two-Michelin-starred L’Esperance in Burgundy, to be his chef de cuisine.
Using produce from farms in Gippsland and Geelong, and cooking over a Josper grill, Mouchel serves classic French dishes with a modern touch, using first-class ingredients when they’re in season. Dishes are grilled or roasted, with fresh garnish, without heavy juices or sauces.
Classic-but-contemporary dishes might include beetroot-cured King Salmon with walnut mayonnaise; or a braised beef-cheek with carrot, cumin and bacon emulsion. Mouchel’s famous rotisserie chicken is still on the menu.There are three variations on top-notch steak. Desserts, like everything else, are seasonal.
The wine list also goes for elegant rather than extensive. There is a cellar of around 50 wines from Australia and France.