The best French restaurants in Canberra

Oh, la la! There’s a reason why French cuisine is renowned the world over. It’s decadent, rich, sophisticated, absolutely delicious, and there’s something for everyone – whether you’re after a hearty boeuf Bourguignon on cold wintery nights, or a classic sole à la meunière for something lighter, or maybe just a crème brulée to round off the night.

Thanks to our incredibly rich and multicultural foodie landscape right here in Canberra, we’ve got several amazing French restaurants across town that are dedicated to providing you with the most delicious and authentic dining experience possible. So, if you’re looking to plan a romantic date night or you’re simply interested in trying something new, but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve landed in the right place!

In this article, we’ll give you a breakdown of some of the things that truly make or break a French restaurant, as well as a guide to some of the best that Canberra has to offer.

What makes a great French restaurant?

Not sure what to look for when comparing French restaurants? No worries. We suggest starting with the following must-have traits:

  • Inspired menu. As with any other style of restaurant, the best showcasing French culinary tradition serve up inspired menus. Look for restaurants that celebrate local produce while remaining true to classic French flavours.
  • Excellent service. Service is critical. The wait staff should be friendly and accommodating, and also be able to answer any questions you might have about the menu – there’s a lot more to French cuisine than you might think, and having a friendly waiter to guide you through your meal is crucial!
  • Inviting atmosphere. As is the case with any great restaurant, a great French restaurant wants you want to feel comfortable and welcome once you step through those doors, whether that’s by using nice décor, comfortable seating, or friendly and welcoming service.
  • Great wine selection. Du vin, s’il vous plaît! After all, what’s French cuisine without a little wine? A great French restaurant will not only stock delicious wines that are both local and French, but will also be able to help you match your drinks to your dishes, to truly elevate your enjoyment of the meal.

The best French restaurants in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 19 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Voila! Here are the best French restaurants in Canberra, as chosen by the locals.

Ondine European Brasserie

Having successfully weathered the pandemic closures that prevented them from opening their doors last year, Ondine European Brasserie has entered the Canberran landscape to great success. With a delicious menu of French classics including escargot Provençale and steak tartare for entrées, boeuf Bourguignon among the mains and, of course, traditional crème brulée, Ondine Restaurant is a perfect destination for classic French dining in a warm and welcoming environment.

Facebook user Janice Kramer Elson left this review for Ondine, “The food was delicious and the service was great. Thank you, we will certainly be returning.”

Courgette

Awarded one hat status by the Sydney Morning Herald for seven years running, Courgette is undoubtedly one of Canberra’s most stunning French-inspired restaurants. Luxurious and sophisticated, the eatery invites guests to sit back, relax, and savour the flavours at an unhurried pace.

As Google reviewer Isabelle Brown writes, “From the heart my favourite restaurant in Canberra. Wonderful and well-presented food! Can’t wait to come back again!”

Les Bistronomes

Les Bistronomes serves up a gorgeous menu showcasing the very best of local produce and modern French cuisine. Situated in the heart of Campbell shops, the fine dining restaurant offers all the delicious classics, including escargots, bouillabaisse, and their chef’s take on crème brûlée. Perfect for an intimate dinner, birthday celebration, or work function, Les Bistronomes is a must-visit for those that adore French food.

‘Local Guide’ Dion Warnock wrote the following Google review after their recent visit to Les Bistronomes, “Stunning French bistro. Excellent service. Great atmosphere. We will be back.”

Breizh Café

Breizh Café’s specialty is Breton cuisine – after owners Bruno and Bronwyn returned from living in Brittany in the north of France in 2008, they decided to start up a typical creperie for the people of Canberra. Head on over to Breizh Café to try some of their Northern French dishes such as galettes, crepes, croque croissants and other treats, wash it down with imported ciders and delicious coffee, all in an unpretentious yet stylish and charming little café.

Happy customer Susan Nolan wrote the following review on Facebook, “I go to Breizh regularly and have never had a bad meal. The service is also great. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Buvette

Fuelled by a love of French culture, cuisine, and traditions, Buvette delivers excellent food, great wine, unbeatable service, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Situated at the five-star Hotel Realm, this delightful eatery is open for sun-drenched breakfasts, long lunches, and fine dinners all week long. The food itself is not fussy. Instead, it emphasises quality and bold flavour, taking cues from the timeless dishes of the classic French bistro.

Another ‘Local Guide’ Brad Falkenberg left this Google review for Buvette, “Delicious food and great wine list. Service with a smile and looked after us.”

If you would prefer to eat at home, check out our article on the best food delivery services in Canberra. Or, if you’d like to try a different cuisine, check out our articles on the best Chinese restaurants and the best Indian restaurants in Canberra.

Your experience with French restaurants in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the French restaurants listed above? Have we missed your favourite? If so, please share your feedback in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is traditional French food?
French cuisine is generally characterised as being rich and hearty - classic dishes like onion soup, boeuf Bourguignon and crème brulée, for example, all use high quantities of butter, meat, and are often accompanied by bread (except for desserts). However, French cuisine is actually quite varied, so prepare to have you expectations surpassed!
Are there different types of French cuisine?
Absolutely - there are numerous regions in France, and due to its environmental diversity each region has different ingredients available to them. Brittany, for example, in the North-East of France, is renowned for buckwheat crepes and gallettes, while cuisine from Languedoc-Roussillon, located on the Mediterranean coast, uses a lot of seafood in its dishes.
Is French food expensive?
It doesn't have to be! A lot of traditional French food is "peasant food," meaning that its ingredients are few, easily sourced locally, and simple to prepare. Modern French food can be expensive, mostly due to ingredient price and preparation, but usually French food is actually quite affordable.
How do I pair wines with French food?
French wines are different to Australian wines as they are distinguished by their region rather than grape. This means that French wines will often pair best with food from their home region. If you're unsure about the geography, then it's always good to remember that red wine pairs best with rich dishes, while white wine pairs best with lighter ones - however, most French restaurants will have an in-house sommélier, who will be able to recommend the perfect wine for your meal.
Is French food easy to cook at home?
Yes! A lot of traditional French food is "peasant food," meaning that its ingredients are few, easily sourced locally, and simple to prepare. As long as you get past the myth that French food is incredibly impossible to prepare for anyone who isn't a pro, you'll be able to whip up a delicious bouillabaisse soup, coq au vin, or a cassoulet in no time!

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