While most of chef-restaurateur Scott Pickett’s venues reopened again in between lockdowns – he even launched new ventures Longrain, Chancery Lane and Le Shoppe – the iron gates to his Collingwood spot have remained closed. But not for long.

Pickett has scrapped the pasta-focused offering of Lupo (also previously Saint Crispin, and the site of Broadsheet Kitchen) and is debuting a new concept in the space. It’s called Smith St Bistrot, and will serve classic French cuisine with an inner-north Melbourne twist.

He’s enlisted chef Daniel Southern, who headed the kitchen at Bar Margaux when it opened, to steer the ship.

“The menu demonstrates Daniel and my classic French training, with dishes inspired by our favourite dining experiences from all across Europe,” Pickett said in a statement.

Southern was behind the subterranean bar’s crowd-pleasing MGX Burger, as well as the quintessentially French soupe à l’oignon (onion soup) and garlicky escargot. At Smith St Bistrot, he’ll be showcasing other classics of the cuisine.

The express lunch menu will feature quiche Lorraine and a steak sandwich baguette with peppercorn sauce and pommes frite, with a more formal menu du jour in the evenings. Snack on saucisson sec with pickled radicchio or crudites with sour cream before moving on to tuna tartare, southern rock lobster thermidor, or a summer vegetable tartlet.

Also on the menu: fricassee of chicken and tarragon to share, salad Lyonnaise, whole flounder with warm gribiche, prune and Armagnac souffle, creme caramel and a lemon and champagne sorbet.

Scott Pickett Group beverage director Clint Fox is curating a wine list of mostly organic, sustainable, natural and biodynamic drops, with a cocktail menu featuring all the classics with a refined touch.

“Smith St Bistrot isn’t just about the food, it’s also a great place to drop in regularly for an awesome cocktail, glass of wine and boutique beer,” Pickett said. “I want it to feel like those gorgeous old Parisian bistrots that have been there forever.”

Burgundy leather and velvet banquettes will line the space, which is being given a gothic and art deco touch by designer Sarah Townson of Anthology. The exposed brick walls remain, to be partially covered by oversized antique mirrors and green moss, while brass chandeliers and antique lighting will hang from the ceilings. A restored spiral staircase will lead up to a new mezzanine overlooking the dining room, with another private dining room upstairs.

Smith St Bistrot is opening at 300 Smith Street, Collingwood in summer 2021/2022.

smithstbistrot.com.au