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The Melbourne Salon - French restaurants and wine saloons in early Melbourne (General Admission)


Location : Alliance Française Pop-Up (50 Lonsdale St, Melbourne CBD)



French restaurants and wine saloons in early Melbourne

  The French cafe and restaurant, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth century respectively, differed significantly from the English models of hospitality adopted in the Australian colonies. Adapting to transplanted eating and drinking customs and licensing regulations, French nationals established restaurants and cafes in nineteenth-century Victoria as alternatives to inns, taverns and eating houses providing meals in the English style, usually with little choice and at specific times only.

French restaurateurs made an important contribution to the early Melbourne dining scene, especially through wine saloons, an innovation made possible by the introduction in 1864 of the colonial wine licence in response to the rapid expansion of vineyards and wine production.

This talk briefly describes the origins of the restaurant in eighteenth-century Paris and reviews French wine salons and restaurants in nineteenth-century Melbourne.


Barbara Santich,
Professor Emeritus at the University of Adelaide, is a respected food historian and coordinator of ISFAR's French Australian Wine Project (FAW). Her research into food history and culture focuses on both France and Australia with publications including The Original Mediterranean Cuisine (Wakefield Press, 1995; new revised edition Equinox, 2018) and Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage (Wakefield Press, 2012), which was shortlisted in the non-fiction category of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Her latest book,  Eating in Eighteenth-Century Provence: The Evolution of a Tradition, was published in 2023 by Bloomsbury. (Bloomsbury offers a discount of 35% on this publication to Australian purchasers with the discount code GLRTW2AU on their website.)

The event will be hosted by Kerry Mullan, Convenor of Languages at RMIT University, President of ISFAR (Institute for the Study of French Australian Relations) and Convenor of The Melbourne Salon.   
Kindly note that some refreshments are included.



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