Pastries laden with butter, the softest and creamiest of cheeses, and our favourite form of bottled bubbly – France has bestowed upon the world so many great, edible gifts. Subiaco is teeming with expressions of French influence in all these forms and more. Bon appetit!
Bienvenue to the newest French kid in town – a bistro opened in May by husband-and-wife team Benoit and Chantelle Lasplace. Benoit’s impressive resume includes Michelin-star restaurants, Rockpool Perth and Print Hall before he opened Mistelle with Chantelle, originally in Bickley. Now in Shenton Park, Mistelle offers an intimate dining experience, a far cry from the location’s previous tenant, the bold and bustling Piccolo Trattoria. Open for lunch and dinner, expect flavours and techniques from the countryside of France’s south-west where Benoit spent his childhood (think cured salmon, chicken liver parfait and confit duck leg). Trust in the Chef’s Hat award-winning reviews from the Australian Good Food Guide and go on a Tuesday for the Test Kitchen experience.
French cuisine is taking over Shenton Park, and locals are feeling pretty smug. La Bastide arrived in 2022 and offers ‘a very European, all-day dining experience’ according to owners Michelle and Rob Natta. From Friday lunches to dinners Thursday through Sunday, the menus feature French classics with a modern twist created with seasonal, local produce. Michelle recommends ‘magret de canard’ with pommes dauphinoise, which is prepared over three days, resulting in a rich and tender duck breast and a velvet swirl of glossy sauce, accompanied by the creamiest pavé of potatoes. For a lighter meal, the winter menu feature of salad niçoise with seared tuna is delightful. The wine list has also been passionately curated with plenty of beautiful drops from Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeau and Rhone, and some local favourites from Margaret River. The house specialties of Kir Royal and Winter Negronis are also the perfect tipple to whet the appetite.
You might have visited French pastry chef Louis Boeglin at the Subi Farmers Market or his former digs on Bagot Road, but his delightful pastries and tarts have expanded into a bigger space on the corner of Rokeby Road this May. Louis was first initiated into the world of French desserts by his grandmother in Alsace (the northeast of France) before training in chef school there. He believes in ‘seasonal radiance’, creating his lush desserts with apples, nuts and citrus in winter while relishing our ‘exotic’ southern hemisphere fruits, such as mango and passionfruit, and plenty of berries in the warmer months. Louis recommends guests must try his experimental special of the week and the always-available traditional Alsace dessert; his version of cheesecake made with house-made yoghurt.
LA MAISON DES ECLAIRS / SALON DE THÉ
While a little tucked away, it’s worth finding this slice of Paris opposite Vibe Hotel for the exquisite artistry put into each pastry. French/Moroccan sisters Awatef and Fatemzahra spent decades living in France and wanted a Parisienne tea house experience for the Subiaco dining scene. While many of us might have sampled a chocolate or coffee éclair in our time, La Maison Des Eclairs is pumping out fanciful versions such as rose and white chocolate or lavender blueberry, all made in-house by Awatef each morning. The breakfast éclair is something special, served with scrambled eggs and salmon, or you could try the classic spinach and mushroom omelette that sells out daily.
CHEZ JEAN-CLAUDE PATISSERIE
While Jean-Claude hails from Switzerland, his “Swiss art of baking” menu is très Français. For over 25 years, there have been daily lines for Jean-Claude’s Parisienne baguettes (the smoked salmon, cream cheese and caper version would be my deathrow meal – sublime) and farmer rolls stuffed with a variety of meats, cheese, pickles and salad. That’s my assumption. It could also be for the focaccias, pies or an afternoon delight – the tarts and flans are also other-worldly. If you haven’t queued here before, don’t let it put you off, this Rokeby stalwart is worth the wait.
When Lyon-born Bertrand Hofman lost his head chef role during the height of COVID-19 closures, the “chance of a lifetime” presented itself. A bakery in Subiaco had suffered a similar fate to Bertrand – shut down, but left with all its equipment. In November 2020, Bertrand and his partner opened the doors to Layers Bakery and became so well loved for their viennoiserie, they expanded into the café next door. Aside from the delectable croissant offerings, Bertrand creates his baguettes and loaves of bread with his own sourdough techniques using old, artisanal French methods. If you’re a sweet tooth, the cakes and chocolate decorations are all prepared on site, so next birthday or afternoon tea, you know where to spoil yourself.
THE LITTLE PARIS CREPERIE
If you like your taste of France with specific dietary requirements, brand new Little Paris Creperie (right next door to Chez Jean-Claude Patisserie) has your back. Buckwheat is the flour used for the crepes, so coeliacs and gluten-intolerant friends rejoice! The wide range of savoury and sweet crepes are made fresh to order, including a traditional ham and cheese crepe or vegetarian galette stuffed with a rainbow of veg, a lemon and sugar crepe, or an OTT number, stuffed with Bueno, Nutella and cream. And if you like an indulgent drink, the Biscoff chai latte will hit the spot.