06 julio 2007

My View: Bistro Vue

I thought that when I moved back to Melbourne I'd get to see my friends more often than I do, so we've set up a monthly meet up where one of us chooses a restaurant and we do the catch up thing. This month's choice: Shannon Bennet's Bistro Vue

We accidentally walked in the wrong way and consequently had to be lead through Vue du Monde to get to the cheaper, more affordable sister Bisro Vue. The inside of this little French -inspired treasure is exactly what I imagine a little countryside town bistro to look like. Antique wooden furniture and chairs to match, mismatched crockery, floral designs galore. The atmosphere was an experience in itself, all very perfectly planned. The toilets are reminiscent of what you'd find in a trendy, shabby chic Paris night spot.

I'll go ahead and say straight off that Bistro Vue is not very vegetarian-friendly (let alone vegan) and the only vegetarian entree available was lacking in the imagination department despite how tasty it is. You can never really go wrong with vegetables neatly tucked away in a crisp, flaky parcel of puff pastry, but really, how many restaurants do I have to go to and eat puff pastry with vegetables while my non-vego friends are chowing down amazing sounding things like braised, stuffed trotters or Dory "a la meuniere"? Call it what you like guys and gals, pithivier, gallette, tarte, parcel, stack, etc -- it's still essentially puff pastry with vegetables. I ordered the Provençal pithivier with tomato jus ($18), and it was tasty. One of the girls ordered a side of curried spinach and I'll be honest, I'm not sure I've ever had spinach that tasted so good (let's hope it wasn't made with chicken or beef stock). The pomme frites are cooked in goose fat, which is interesting, but from the one chip I sampled it didn't taste any different.

The sweet finale to the meal was definitely the highlight to the meal. We settled on the pear tarte tatin with creme anglais ($24 for 2 persons, it huge and could definitely be split with 5 or 6 persons) and the pistachio souffle with pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce ($12). The July issue of the Australian Gourmet Traveller is dealing with all things French this month and the recipe for the tarte tatin is in it. Again, puff pastry. You can't go wrong with it, especially if you add butter, sugar and slow cooked fruit. Every bite of the tart tatin was rich with vanilla bean and clove flavours and worth every calorie in every bite. The souffle was also lovely, but the presentation far exceeded the actual taste satisfaction factor. The ice cream tasted like pistachios (yum), the souffle tasted like eggs, sugar and pistachios (interesting and delicate) and the chocolate sauce, well, it was chocolate sauce.

I'd go back just to have another bite of that tart tatin and a pot of tea served to me by the very attentive and knowledgeable staff. They make the tatin to order, so it's great to enjoy tea or coffee while you wait.

Even though the vegetarian entree was surprisingly good with each (and every) bite, the name of the dish was the only imaginative thing about it.

Bistro Vue
Normanby Chambers
430 Little Collins St (Entry via New Chancery Lane)

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