430 Little Collins Street - Normandy Chambers
Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 613 9691 3838
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday; 11am until late
Before leaving for Melbourne & Sydney, Sis had asked Bro and I to list the places we wanted to go to. I honestly did not contribute much to the list because there were just too many places to visit, too little time. There was one place though that I kept reminding Sis to make a reservation for; Bistro Vue.
Those who know a bit about the Australian food scene would most likely be familiar with Shannon Bennett, the man behind the famous fine dining outlet, Vue de Monde; ranked as the 76th best restaurant in the world and just 1 rank higher than Singapore's finest, Iggy's. It is also 1 of the 3 Australian restaurants and the only restaurant in Melbourne to make it to the list. The 2 others are namely Tetsuya's and Rockpool in Sydney.
We settled on having lunch at Bistro Vue, the more casual sibling of Vue de Monde. Unlike Vue de Monde where the decor is clean, simple and classy, entering Bistro Vue felt like I stepped into a home in the rustic French countryside. It was a small space but yet it didn't feel cramp due to the high ceilings. The service was typically French; a tad snooty but adequate. The lunch crowd leaned towards working professionals. The food served was nothing short of excellent.
For appetizers, we ordered the steak tartare, the french onion soup and the terrine of rabbit to share. My favourite among the 3 was the steak tartare. Instead of grounding the meat like how most places serve steak tartare, Bistro Vue serves theirs with their beef finely diced. I found that this made a big difference in the whole texture of the dish as serving the diced meat gave it more crunch. It was simply addictive.
Of the 3, I didn't take much of a fancy towards the french onion soup. As much as I loved the sweet onions, flaky pastry and the gruyère cheese topping, I found the beer in the soup too overpowering. I thought it might be better if they had toned the alcohol down a bit but that's just my personal taste because I have never been big on alcohols.
French Onion Soup flavoured with Beer, topped with Gruyère
When the terrine of rabbit arrived at the table, I was impressed. The colourful layers captured my attention. The first thing we all tried to do was to decipher the different layers. We couldn't. It was tasty and was really nice with the brioche but I couldn't taste the rabbit in it. The pistachio mousse didn't come through as well as it was mostly covered by the taste of the foie gras. It was still enjoyable though.
Terrine of Rabbit with Foie Gras & Pistachio Mousse
While the appetisers were delicious, it was really the entrees that really shined. The only entree that didn't really bode well was the Barramundi Bourguignon. The fish was smothered with the overpowering red wine sauce covering the whole flavour of the fish itself. I thought that was its downfall. Dad's order of the Chargrilled Wagyu Rump was good choice but was far from being adventurous.
Chargrilled 250gm Grain Fed Wagyu Rump Cap
The Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust was an excellent choice. The pork was so tender that the meat started falling apart the moment we dug our fork into it. It was very well marinated and moist as well. The three cheese crust gave the roast pork a nice lift to its taste. Bro's order of the Pied de Cochon, also known as Pig Trotters, was the special of the day. To be honest, it looked rather intimidating when it first arrived at the table. Again, the meat which was cooked with red wine was tender and falling off the bone. There was also chicken mousse stuffed right in the centre of the pig's trotters which I found to be delicious and rather special.
Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust, Glazed Beetroots
Pied de Cochon
The Shellfish Risotto which D ordered was one of the best risottos I've ever tasted. It was rich with seafood flavours. In fact, it tasted almost like risotto cooked in lobster bisque. D found his dish to be extremely appetising. I seconded that as I found myself reaching across the table to steal spoonfuls of risotto from his plate.
Shellfish Risotto, Orange Reduction
My order of the Lamb Wellington reminded me of Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay always gave grief to the contestants on the cooking of beef wellingtons. They were often overcooked or undercooked. Chef Ramsay would have been a happy camper if he had the chef of Bistro Vue on his show because the lamb wellington was cooked to a perfect pink. The only gripe here would have been that the portion was simply too small! The red pepper on the side was stuffed with lentils which had been cooked with some indian spices. It was especially good when eaten together with the lamb.
Lamb Wellington Provençal
We were very full at the end of our entrees but couldn't leave knowing that we didn't try out their desserts. We ordered 2 in the end; the Chestnut Parfait and the Crème Brûlée. The crème brûlée was smooth and creamy, the way it should be. Not surprisingly, I loved the chestnut mousse sandwiched between the honeycomb wafers as I've always had a penchant for chestnuts. All in all, both were the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.
Chestnut Parfait with Walnuts & Honey
If I was asked whether I'd return to Bistro Vue again, I'd raise both arms into the air and nod my head violently. In fact, I've recommended this place to 2 friends who had since visited Melbourne after me. After my visit to Bistro Vue and having had such wonderful food, I'm really curious about how good or how much better is the food at Vue de Monde.
If you're dying to try a bit of Vue de Monde after reading this, pop down to the National Museum. From the last I read, it's supposed to be rebranded and renamed as Vue by Shannon Bennett. Bennett will be the consultant chef there and apparently one of his main chefs from Melbourne will be flown in to helm the kitchen here. If Bistro Vue's food is anything to go by, I'd say that we are going to have winner on our local shores real soon.