The layers of immigration that make Footscray such a fascinating place have now placed Small French Bar, a French fromagerie, charcuterie and cafe (and later wine bar) on the main street.
It’s a small storefront set incongruously amongst the pho joints, wig shops and money exchange offices and you’ll just be able to spot it with the help of a little snail over the door.
Stephane Armentano is a new Footscray local and comes to Melbourne via a successful tapas bar in Fremantle. The space inside the Royal Hotel redevelopment has been completely rebuilt by Stephane and his family and transformed into what he hopes will become a little community bar like those in most French villages.
The sweetly humble space is a Gallic haven. French music plays gently in the background and the small menu is available throughout the day, every day.
Start your day with a bargain $5 croissant and coffee or French hot chocolate.
The croissants and pain au chocolat are wafer crisp on the outside and so very airy on the inside – and it turns out that they have been made with French butter and other French ingredients and come direct from France (par-baked), along with the baguettes.
Stephane simply couldn’t find the consistency in quality in any products here so for the moment you can enjoy these treats as if you were in the streets of Paris.
For a main meal try the home made duck confit ($18), a moist maryland of duck with meat that falls off the bone and served with creamy potatoes dauphinois and steamed green beans. It’s an authentic brasserie meal which will warm your cockles in winter. You may see confit duck legs for sale in the near future, along with the existing selection of French cheeses and charcuterie.
To end don’t miss the house made chocolate fondant. The weight of the vanilla ice cream helps the melting chocolate centre flow out from the shell and it’s a luxurious treat for only $8.
At the moment opening hours are still in testing mode as Small French Bar is a one-man operation. Generally you can expect the cafe to be open from 10-4pm every day, sometimes opening earlier, sometimes closing later. The liquor license will hopefully come through in a few months so there will be an authentic wine bar in Footscray!
Small French Bar is a lovely neighbourhood addition and Stephane has obviously put his heart and soul into this venture so go support him!
Starting next Tuesday there will also be a regular French conversation class. From June 2 meet at Small French Bar 7pm till 9pm for charcuterie, cheese plate and a tete-a-tete. Limited tickets available, ring Stefan 0402952078.