Chef Dan Xerri’s life changed when he spent five year’s living in Strasbourg, a cool cosmopolitan city in the north-east of France. See they do something kind of weird in Strasbourg: French pizza.
Technically it’s called Flambée. Villagers used to gather for their weekly bake and test the oven temperature by chucking some dough in there. It turned out light, crispy and delicious, and after a few bottles of Loire Valley Cabernet, someone said, “Hey, we should make this stuff all the time.”
Xerri and his team at Resto BoBo are the only ones doing this Flambée-style cooking in Melbourne, and they’ve supplemented the pizza with something else you might not expect: French tapas. Little roast cauliflower bites, Chorizo butter tartine and Frenchified mac n’ cheese, handmade with Spaetzle (an artisan French pasta). There’s a Black Angus Sirloin on the menu, but this place isn’t really about the minute steak and pommes frites.
If you’re dropping by, you pretty much have to try the Flambée. Ultra-thin base, totally different from your standard Neopolitan-style. Think wafer-crispy dough, topped with a light layer of white sauce, French cheese and good stuff like smoked bacon, aged Comte, pecan nuts and onion, or salmon, fresh apple and mint. The overall taste is nothing like Italian pizza: the flavours are delicate, simple, perhaps a little snooty. But that’s French food at it’s best. Dan's happy to walk you through the concept and explain the origins of the dish. Trust us, sipping a Cab Sav and listening to him wax lyrical about Flambée is almost the highlight of the night.
“I was addicted on my first bite,” says Dan. “It was only later that I discovered where and how Flambée originated.
The drinks list is a fusion of Strasbourg and Melbourne. So you’ve got Cognac Espresso Martinis and cocktails like the Le Birlou Sour, made from Birlou apple and chestnut French liquor, egg white and bitters.
Whack a few small batch wines on the bill and you’ve got the makings of a casual French feast. It's something unusual for Melbourne's starched tablecloth French scene. Something urban and contemporary, which makes it bang-on for Windsor.
Image credit: Resto BoBo