With low lighting, intimate booths and waiters who anticipate your needs by bringing extra bread and brushing down your table between courses, Frenchie is perfectly set up for a romantic dinner for two.

So it’s probably just as well that a millennial couple on their stressful first date here might be blissfully unaware that in the recent past, Frenchie was a euphemism for a condom (still, that’s not a patch on the Thai restaurant nearby, recently closed, named Tahi – the Malay word for excrement).

Besides, French cuisine truly is the food of romance, and certainly the first love of owner Mark Limacher. On the wall upstairs there’s a fading letter in French from the legendary Swiss chef Frédy Girardet, wishing Limacher well with the Roxburgh, his debut venture in these very premises back in 1992. Other Roxburgh relics include framed photos of classic French restaurants from the mid-century Time Life cookbook; and there are vintage French food and travel posters that once hung next door in another of Limacher’s award-winning ventures, Café Bastille (today Ortega Fish Shack and Bar). A well-thumbed copy of Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine returns to its place of honour in a display case.

Nevertheless, Frenchie’s interior is still easily recognisable as its immediate predecessor, Slim Davey’s. There’s still the 1950s television screen showing fist-fight scenes from classic Westerns (slapstick to us today) while Slim Davey’s cowboy-buckled leather aprons are still worn by the waiting staff – only now they’re overlaid with the stereotypically French, striped pirate shirts.

Le prix fixe, that mainstay of the French bistro, also informs the menu here – $59 for three courses. As in France, this represents great value. The vast French repertoire has been trawled afresh for obscure but authentic regional specialties such as aligot, a creamy, altogether heavenly melding of potato mash with cheese from France’s l’Aubrac region, here made with Cantal cheese and mixed with creme fraiche to make it less elastic than the original. It goes with the ‘Tongue and Cheek’ – a tightly pressed tile of beef cheek, fried and topped with sliced ox tongue, its richness cut with roasted rhubarb.

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