Words like ‘institution’ and ‘iconic’ get tossed around a lot, and not always with deep justification. But France-Soir, near the top of the Toorak Road hill in Melbourne’s South Yarra, has earned both of those monikers, and some time ago. It is indeed an iconic institution, and an establishment with a loyal following that few…
Dear Sainte Éloise
Dear Sainte Éloise takes its name from a line in George Orwell’s classic examination of poverty, his two-part memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London. The desperate plea reads:“Dear Sainte Éloise, if you exist, please send me some money. I don’t ask for much–just enough to buy some bread and a bottle of wine.” Indeed, priorities, priorities. It’s fairly safe to say that the flop houses of 1930s Paris and London are no distant mirror to a wine bar in 2019 Potts Point. And thankfully so. But given Dear Sainte Éloise’s address on Orwell Street, the reference is more than apt.
Dear Sainte Éloise is the French-centred foil to Love, Tilly Devine’s Australian bent, with Matt Swieboda and Justine Natterer teaming up with Mercado’s Nate Hatwell to repurpose the former Waterman’s Lobster Co.site.As with Love, Tilly Devine, the 550-strong wine list focuses on organic and biodynamic producers who work with as little winemaking intervention as possible. Here, though, French wine makes up half the list, with the other half devoted to a broad-ranging selection from here and around the world. There’s a by-the-glass list of about 25, with new or featured wines coming on daily.
Safe to say that wine is front and centre here, but with the menu ably supporting in an Italian-French direction, concisely covering snacks through entrée, mains, dessert and cheese.There’s a low-waste, sustainable undercurrent, with whole animals being sourced, rather than just specific cuts. Their butcher then dry ages the meat and sends over what they need on a daily basis.Like the wine, all the produce is organic or biodynamic, except for the rare exception.There is also a ‘feed me’ four-course option, if you’re planning on settling in.