Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

There’s only one thing more magical than dinner at one of Melbourne’s most beloved restaurants, and that’s turning around and doing it again for lunch the next day

Words by Myffy Rigby

France Soir

It’s 3am on Toorak Road. Most of the streetlights are out, except the glowing blue neon of French bistro, France Soir. It’s still glowing because Bruce Springsteen has done a run up the road for some good tequila. He cracks it open and proceeds to play a few rounds of cricket on the street, using oranges as cricket balls.

Or so the story goes.

Not that that was a big deal at the time – it never is here. The staff are too cool. Or too French. Or maybe that means the same thing.

Veteran restaurateur Jean-Paul Prunetti has been running France Soir for 36 years. He doesn’t care if you’re Joe Cocker here for the steak frites and Côte du Rhône or Mick Jagger, visiting for Burgundy and boeuf bourguignon. If your table isn’t ready, you wait like everybody else.

No detail is too small at France Soir
No detail is too small at France Soir

All guests are important here, even the Rolling Stones.

There’s a mystique about the place. A vibe, a tone, a certain… something.
Maybe it’s the people who eat here – a mix of rich, powerful, stylish and Who Even Knows.

A group breezes in through the front door of Number Eleven Toorak Road in a stream of fuchsia

and burnt orange, crisp white and smudged charcoal, metallic purple and fresh-bitten peach. It’s fresh-drop Prada and Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Gucci, Balmain and Jacquemus. And so beautiful it hurts.

Two older women with tightly set hair don’t bother with the menu. They know what they want – they eat the same thing every Friday night.

Options traders let their wine choices do the talking for them, dressing the table with the big swinging Burgundies the restaurant is famous for.

Jean-Paul Prunetti
Veteran restaurateur, Jean-Paul PrunettiSeveral tables are so divinely comfortable, it would be impossible to tell where they’ve emerged from, outside of a dead Oxbridge professor’s steamer trunk.

An early Saturday lunch sees one regular turn up in a three-piece brown tweed with a nautical print silk pocket square. He’s wearing an eye patch. Apparently it was a run-in with a cyclist. (“I was on a bicycle and he was in a car and things happened”) though if what he’d said was “my elephant gun backfired”, it would have been utterly believable.

His six-year-old son, wearing a miniature version of Dad’s suit with bright red sneakers in place of brogues, is here for his first-ever restaurant meal. It’s his birthday.


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Myffy Rigby


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