Restaurant News

Coming soon to Melbourne: a Paris-inspired bistro by Scott Pickett

From the menu through to the décor, Smith St Bistrot takes its cues from the city of light’s 1920s heyday.

By Georgie Meredith
Photo: Alex Squadrito
Scott Pickett has been busy. In the last 18 months, he's taken over the lease of Melbourne Thai icon Longrain, launched CBD restaurant Chancery Lane and is overseeing the food and beverage offering at the hotly anticipated The Continental Sorrento revamp, on the Mornington Peninsula. That's in addition to keeping long-running favourites Estelle and Matilda running throughout Melbourne's various lockdowns and reopenings.
Now, he's adding another feather to his cap with Smith St Bistrot: a '20s Parisian-style bistro taking over the old Saint Crispin site in Collingwood.
Scott Pickett and head chef Daniel Southern. Photo: Alex Squadrito
The menu is an homage to some of Pickett and head chef Daniel Southern's favourite French dishes. They'll be classic, of course, but with a Pickett twist. Think smoked ham-hock and pea soup with delicate mint crème; lightly crumbed King George whiting served with crayfish mayonnaise and cucumber; and simple desserts such as crème caramel and soufflé framboise.
"French food has always been a cuisine I enjoy, not only to cook but to eat in bistros all around the world," says Pickett. "It's romantic food that can either be very simple or painstaking to master, but that's the beauty of it."
A $40 "menu du jour" will see a rotating line-up of dishes on offer each night, and includes a glass of wine, naturally. Guests could be enjoying Milla Farm duck with lentils du puy one night, or a wagyu cheeseburger the next. There's also tuna tartare, a summer tartlet, and a chicken and tarragon friccasée for two.
For most of the week, Smith St Bistrot will be open from 11am. There'll be take-away coffee, as well as an express lunch menu with options such as quiche Lorraine or steak sandwich baguette.
Summer tartlet. Photo: Alex Squadrato
Ahead of Smith St Bistrot's Valentine's Day opening, GT was given an exclusive preview of the interiors. Whereas Estelle and Chancery Lane, which are both inspired by bistros, are sleek and modern, Smith St Bistrot plays things a bit more classic.
Theatrical is the first word that comes to mind when stepping inside the seductive, multi-level space, co-designed by Pickett and Sarah Townson from Anthology Studio.
You're greeted by ceiling-high antique mirrors sitting above romantic, red leather booths; marble-topped tables punctuated by quaint, custom-lit lamps; and there's a display of living moss lining the restaurant's exposed brick walls, which ascends a spiral staircase leading up to an atrium-style second level.
Continue upstairs and you'll find the private function room. The walls, which have been hand-painted by Townson herself, are reminiscent of a Grimm Brothers tale, with forest greens and deep blues dominating the palette.
Daniel's crème caramel. Photo: Alex Squadrito
The attention to detail is immaculate. Every piece of dining-ware has been carefully hand-sourced; from the intricate paper doilies to the eclectic mix of Champagne coupes, almost everything has been repurposed. The finished effect is striking: Smith St Bistrot feels plucked right out of Paris during its années folles years.
"We've sourced everything, I didn't want to get anything new," says Townson. "We spent four months converting all the antiques into modern dining ware – it's pretty insane."It's been 10 years since Pickett acquired this site, and it's had a few lives over the last decade. Smith St Bistrot has a good chance of becoming the best incarnation yet.
Smith St Bistrot is set to open Monday February 14.
Smith St Bistrot
300 Smith Street, Collingwood, Vic
Open for lunch Thu-Sat 11am–late; dinner from 5.30pm-late seven days a week.
  • undefined: Georgie Meredith