It’s not often that days later I’m still dreaming about a meal I ate, but Resto Bobo managed to have me doing just that. Hidden away on Chapel Street in between the bars and Asian Street Food Eateries, you’d be forgiven for not knowing this new French restaurant exists, but you need to get it on your radar tout de suite! Specialising in Tarte Flambee from the Alsace region of North East France – this is French food, but not as you know it.
Resto Bobo has the feel of a classy wine bar – with a great alcohol list to match this. All their menu is designed for sharing (although obviously, you don’t have to!). It has a laid back vibe, and it’s all about catching up with friends and enjoying some good food. Their focus is on giving you a traditional French experience, from the options of aperitifs to start, to the encouragement to enjoy a long, relaxing meal (dinner in France can take hours – trust me). We were there over 2 hours, and it literally felt like no time at all. It’s exactly the place you’d bring your bestie on a Friday night to catch up on the weekly gossip (particularly, if most of your bff’s, like mine, are foodies too). It’s dimly lit, but without being dark and the fit out is fresh and modern with a little bit of that alternative quirkiness that Chapel Street is so renowned for. The background music gives a little of that Chapel Street party vibe, but it’s not overwhelming and it’s still easy to talk.
I have to admit, I often find the flavours of French food too strong, but having tried Tarte Flambee in Berlin I was intrigued by what Resto Bobo had to offer. To start with we opted for the Charcuterie Board – at $19, I felt this was really good value given the quality of the ingredients. It would be perfect for two to share as a snack while enjoying a drink, or as we did, as a starter to your meal. The saucisson had a rich meaty flavour, it was cut fairly chunky, and I was surprised how easy this was to eat, with none of the usual chewiness you can get with cold meats. Both the pork pate and chicken and tarragon terrine were divine, I just wanted to eat chunks of them straight up, and the pate for me was the highlight of the whole evening., it just had such a wonderful meaty flavour without overwhelming your palate. The homemade garlic butter is also worth a mention, it was delicious.
As a main we shared the Traditionelle Ail-Cibo Tarte Flambee, with Lardon Smoked Bacon, Fresh Chives, Onion, Emmental Cheese, and Confit Garlic. A Tarte Flambee is kind of the French equivalent of a pizza, but the dough is crispy and a lot lighter. The level of restraint with the flavours was excellent. It’s distinctively French, but every flavour manages to blend and work together, without any one overwhelming. I liked how the cheese was used to draw the ingredients together instead of blindly applied as an additional topping.
We also tried the La Dent Sucree, a sweet Tarte Flambee topped with apples and cinnamon. Calvados, a traditional apple liquor from Normandy (which taste like a strong, sweet cider) is poured over the top of the dessert and it’s set alight in front of you (think Sambuca, but poured over a dessert). This is pretty cool and adds that extra something special to the meal. The taste reminded me of apple struddel: apple, a little syrupy, and with that crisp from the base.
There really is nothing like this in Melbourne. When you think of French restaurants you typically think of fine dining. Resto Bobo brings those French flavours to a more casual eating experience. They are proud to tell you their story and want to not only showcase their food, but to share a little of French culture, and the social importance of meal time and food to them. A thoroughly enjoyable experience: for Chapel Street locals this offers the perfect hang out with friends, and fellow foodies – you need to get down here and try this, it’s definitely a great new cuisine joining Melbourne’s ever expanding food scene.