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Happy eating,
Jon!




Monday, November 26, 2007
Bistro Vue (City)
Saturday night calls for another visit to a “must try” restaurant. This weeks’ choice is Bistro Vue, the little brother of Shannon Bennett’s famous Vue de monde. Like the flagship restaurant, Bistro Vue is located in Normanby chambers on Little Collins Street, a fantastic location in Melbourne’s business district.

Bistro Vue has been trading for some twelve months, but until now I have always managed to neglect it, in favour of its big brother. The Bistro however proves itself to be a fantastic alternative, at a price that makes it much more accessible than Vue de monde, not to mention the fact that getting a booking is a lot more achievable as well. Service at this establishment remains exceptionally strong, and the restaurant has a great feel to it with a focus on old French bistro styling including raw wooden tables, red velvet covered chairs and banquettes, antique cutlery, floral plates and shabby-chic elements coming through in the restaurants’ decor and use of crockery, such as the mismatched tea cups and saucers. There has been a lot of attention to detail in the planning here, and everything appears to have been done in very good taste. Informal, yet elegant at the same time.

The menu also reads quite simply and is written in the old French style with hors d’oeuvres as entrees and entrees as mains, consequently broken up into poissons (fish) and viandes (meat). There is not a lot of room here for vegetarians though, with a largely meat inspired menu. The wine list is included in the same document as the menu, and is a concise, but well chosen list of three pages comprising exclusively of Australian and French options, with a limited by-the-glass selection. I choose to start with a glass of Lilet Blanc ($7) – a French regional wine-based aperitif, which is unfortunately not easily accessible, with limited restaurants offering it. I consequently order: the terrine as my starter and a steak for my main.


After ordering, bread is brought over to the table, in a cloth bag and hung on a hook at the side of the table. How interesting! Inside the bag is a crusty baguette. House-baked of course. Excellent French packaged butter also sits at the table.




Hors D’oeuvre: “Chicken & foie gras terrine” $22 – This is not your typical terrine offering, but rather the sort of thing that one would expect to be served at Vue de Monde. Presented on a wooden board is a lovely rich offering, made up of five layers. My waiter drops off the dish and tells me to try each layer, proclaiming that he will return shortly to test me on them :). My performance was rather average. From the top the layers are: pistachio cream, followed by chicken, jamon, foie gras and ultimately confit carrot. The layers have been heavily pressed though so the flavours have blended somewhat. That’s my excuse for not guessing two of them correctly anyway. The terrine is served along with some toasted croutons, and the five flavours work together to create a wonderful taste experience. A very enjoyable, and pretty, way to start the meal.


Entrée: “Chargrilled 250gm grain fed Wagyu rump cap” $34 – This is one of the two steaks on offer, the other being a fillet of grass fed beef. On the plate you are presented with a thick piece of steak cooked to your liking. I order it medium rare and the steak arrives perfectly rested and pink throughout. It is so often the case that steaks are overcooked, or not rested. This one had neither problem and was perfect. Accompaniments include your choice of sauce: pepper, diane or béarnaise, a plump roasted garlic head, a few salad leaves and a cone of wonderful pommes frites, cooked in goose fat. These chips bare no resemblance to the frozen things, which probably come with the steak at your local. My choice of sauce, the béarnaise was also excellent, so much so that I smeared a little of the residual on a slice of bread. Overall it is a rather substantial meal, which represents great value for money for the quality on offer. It was nearly as good as the amazing steaks at Rockpool, which are close to double the price.
To drink: 2004 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage Cuvee Gaby (Rhone Valley) - $19.50/glass. An excellent French wine to go with an excellent French meal.


Dessert: “Soufflé au chocolat” ($12): This is a dessert that certainly attracted a lot of attention. The smell that drifted across the restaurant was amazing and there were guests swooning all over the place. After a 20 minute wait, the time taken to prepare the dessert, the masterpiece arrives. On a board sits the chocolate soufflé in a cast iron pot. In a separate dish sits a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and in a jug to the side is the wonderful chocolate sauce. As the dessert is placed in front of you the waiter creates a hole in the middle of the soufflé and pours in the chocolate sauce. The traditional idea of a soufflé being more of a pudding is embraced here, and the end result certainly does not disappoint. This is one of the lightest and most indulgent soufflés I have eaten, and at $12 it certainly beats most other desserts around the city on taste, value and ultimate satisfaction. A lot of people in the restaurant were ordering this, and many of those who had not couldn’t help but glance over with big eyes and comment on how wonderful the dessert looked and smelled, trying to convince their partners that they should order one (next time).


The coffee of choice is Illy – only the best of course, and some lovely petit fours are presented for one’s enjoyment.


Overall Bistro Vue was a very satisfying dining experience. The food really was excellent. Service was exceptional from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. I was even presented with a complimentary box of hand-made Vue chocolates, which I would have thought were reserved for Vue de monde guests. Upon leaving they also had my coat ready for me, and the doors opened as I was departing. That is real hospitality. I will have to make sure I return very soon, especially seeing that the menu will be changing this week with a number of new creations to be expected, including a modern take on duck a l’orange.

For those seeking a bargain Bistro Vue also offers a plat du jour (main course, salad and a glass of wine) for only $32. A great deal!

In its early days Bistro Vue was criticised to some extent in the media as simply being another way of Shannon Bennett cashing in on the suceess of the Vue de monde name. This is certainly not the case now and the restaurant is a fantastic success in its own right.

Bistro Vue received a score of 14 out of 20 in the 2008 Good Food Guide.

My score: 17/20 - Food 8.25/10 Service 4.75/5 Ambience 4/5
An excellent restaurant for all occasions. Highly Recommended.

Labels: ,


  posted at 1:01 PM  
  2 comments



2 Comments:
At November 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM, Blogger vida said...

What a lovely way to spend a Sunday... Getting myself a book this week, this is too good to miss out on... Vida x

 
At December 5, 2007 at 1:52 PM, Blogger purple goddess said...

Darl,

Linked to your post here, and quoted you.

Full credit given.

Nice review, BTW.

 

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