“I’ve always had that French influence in my cooking and I love the old classics,” chef Luke Mangan (Luke’s Kitchen, Luc-San) tells Broadsheet.

The Sydney chef is at the helm of Bistrot Bisou, a new French restaurant that opens this week in the former Beso space in Hotel Indigo on Flinders Lane.

Mangan, who trained under Michel Roux at the UK’s three-Michelin-starred The Waterside Inn in the 1990s, says Bistrot Bisou is his “love letter” to French food.

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Located on the ground floor of the Helmut Newton-inspired hotel, the 96-seat relaxed dining room has Parisian elegance thanks to biscuit-coloured banquettes, ivory-coloured tiling and gold pendant lighting. The open kitchen runs the length of the dining room and has a woodfired parrilla grill that emits a fiery glow and has a European countryside feel.

Luke Mangan and Rory Kennedy. Photography: Courtesy of Bistrot Bisou / Jana Longhorst

Executive chef Rory Kennedy (Vex Dining, Bar Romantica) joins Mangan to prepare a menu that showcases Mangan’s favourite French dishes. There’s a dry-aged rib eye on the bone and bavette steak frites, and spatchcock roasted over ironbark coals served with a champagne and tarragon sauce.

Mangan suggests starting with oysters and then moving on to hors d’oeuvres like prawn cocktail made with diced tiger prawns tossed in a Marie Rose sauce with horseradish and served with crisp lettuce.

New Zealand Ora King salmon is smoked in-house and comes with crème fraîche, egg dressing and toast. There is also classic gruyere soufflé, steak tartare and chicken liver parfait.

Desserts, Kennedy says, remain fairly true to tradition with vanilla crème brûlée – floating islands made with raspberry sorbet, poached meringue and crème anglaise – and both individual- and share-sized tarte tatin made with apples soaked in Calvados brandy.

Tarte tatin. Photography: Courtesy of Bistrot Bisou / Jana Longhorst

Restaurant and bar manager Tim Davey (French Saloon) has put together an extensive, mostly French-inspired, cocktail list with eight Martinis.

Mangan’s favourite cocktail, the Maritime Sour, is made with Bass and Flinders Maritime gin. The gin’s salty characteristics are combined with lemon juice and orgeat.

There is also Bistrot Bisou’s signature cocktail, Tomber dans les Pommes – meaning “to faint” in French – made with Plantation 3 Stars white rum, Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, Pineau des Charentes, Dubonnet and green apple.

Taittinger champagne is served by the glass alongside a selection of French wines from Beaujolais, the Loire Valley and Burgundy, as well as Victorian drops from Mornington Peninsula, Heywood and the Yarra Valley.

Bistrot Bisou
575 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9612 5757

Tue & Wed 5.30pm – late
Thu & Fri midday – 3pm; 5.30pm – late
Sat 5.30pm – late