Saturday night dinner was the summit of my recent Melbourne trip - or at least it was supposed to be. With a weekend crammed full of eating experiences, there was only one proper dinner session and the choice was measured and careful. On a chilling night, the warmth and shabby chic of Bistro Vue was ever so welcoming, as too the service. There's a distinct grandmotherly feel - or maybe great aunt - to the decor, and I'm still deciding whether I like it.
The service at Bistro Vue is impeccable - from the first second in the restaurant, it feels like I've done something very special and that I'm being rewarded for it. Too bad there was little to be done about the huge, slightly rowdy group that subsequently joined the room.
We potter about the menu for what seems like forever - it's not even that big a menu. We're thankful for the minute baguette while we're deliberating, served on fancifully kitsch plates - just like what you'd get your jam and scones on at aunt's.
The Chateau Sainte Barbe merlot is decanted and served with such elegance that we eagerly drink so that we can be served some more. We're not without water at the table either, with our petite glasses refilled with an almost scary level of attention. Timing is an art they have down pat at Bistro Vue.
My omelette entree comes with a simple cress garnish, but resembles more a crepe than omelette in my opinion. The aroma is immediately dizzying; a heady combination of richness, garlic and luxe porcini mushrooms. I've forgone the truffle supplement, but am suitably overimpressed with my entree anyway. The omelette is pillowy soft and contrasts nicely with the texture of the mushrooms. And the flavour - oh the flavour - is worthy of death or similar sacrafice; it's rich but not overly so and almost on par with truffle that it brings big smiles all round and fond memories already.
The crab looked more than a little inspired by Asian flavours, served deep fried atop some greenery with a thick ginger sauce. The subtlety of the sauce meant that the flavour of the crab wasn't concealed - a surprisingly meaty specimen in this case.
The prettily and delicately plated ballotine came with an orderly line of Sauternes jelly and a few spice piles that I'm not sure were tasted - pepper, perhaps. The perfectly round discs of tasty quail encased rich squares of foie gras. Despite the cost and luxury of it, I'm still not a big fan of liver, but was quite impressed with the flavoursome quail meat.
Plagued with complete indecision for my main, I opted for the seemingly safe haven of steak. Sher wagyu being the fashion these days, the rump cap looked mouthwatering next to the Jenga pile of potato - more logs than chips, I think. Accompanied by half a roasted onion, cress and a teaspoon of Bistro Vue's own truffle mustard, I was looking forward to demolishing the pretty sight.
If only my medium-rare request wasn't closer to blue. And if only I could chew the bites that I did put into my mouth. And if only the dry, overcooked potato wasn't the equivalent of two whole medium sized tubers. It was a rare occasion that the waiter cleared a half empty plate from me. The mustard was good though - a dijon style with a strong truffle after-kick.
Gratin of pork with three cheese crust and vichy carrots
The small but deadly square of pork gratin was likened to lasagne, especially with its rich three cheese sauce. The serving size proved appropriate as I'm sure the fat and salt content of that meat and cheese cube was close to recommended dailies. Think rich baked cheese interspersed with fatty layers of pork - be still my arteries. Nonetheless, with carrots as foil, this dish was licked spotless.
The Sher wagyu sirloin was a much more tender cut than the rump cap, but inferior in the flavour department. This was served with the Jenga chips again, and a delightful little jar of bearnaise sauce.
Having had a good attempt at both the pommes pont neuf and my steak, dessert wasn't a consideration at all. I did make room for a bite of the canele though - which had a chewy, caramelly exterior but seemed a little dry inside. And I admit to a mouthful of the rather large dessert ordered by one.
The pear tarte tatin was brought to the table in its pan, and served before us. The smell of caramel provoked some involuntary response, for its sweet butteriness engulfed not only our table but those nearby too. The tarte tatin was flipped out of the pan - somewhat awkwardly - and served with pouring cream and the vanilla beans used in the cooking process.
Eyes rolled backwards at the taste of the caramel, yet the overall feeling was of sogginess. The juicy pears were abundant and the caramel almost a little too liquid, meaning that the pastry was limp and soggy within minutes. Although, I suppose it's intended to be shared and eaten quickly but after Jenga, the game was over for me.
We lolled in our shabby chic chairs, digesting and still enjoying the decanted wine service amid the probably uncharacteristically noisy restaurant. Cheese was unfortunately out of the question - unfortunate in that I had spotted the cheese trolley earlier with its arresting range but now couldn't attempt any.
From the sheer view of my disappointing main meal, it could be deemed a poor experience. However, taking another point of view; a broader look accounting for the overall service, ambience, company and that cepe omelette, maybe - just maybe - I could be of another perspective.