As I’ve never been to France before, my idea of a beautiful traditional French restaurant in France would be fresh flowers, velvety chairs, vintage furniture, hot men with sexy French accents, a wide variety of French wines and of course, delicious French dishes that come in small but intricate portions. This description seems to fit Melbourne’s very own Bistro Vue very well. The waitstaff all happened to be female during our visit this time, however, my very first visit to Bistro Vue certainly met the aforementioned criteria.
Bistro Vue sets themselves apart from the rest by not only producing outstanding French cuisine but also focusing on the restaurant interior. I love their chairs and tables which seem perfect for a little French restaurant out in the country with green hills outside and oh I can almost see Manu Feildel riding past on his little bicycle wearing a barrette and blue stripy shirt (this is exactly what he did at the Good Food and Wine Show not long ago). I even love their flowery plates and the big antique looking drawer next to the kitchen. I love everything about this place. Everything screamed France to even someone like me who has never been before.
Don’t let the small bar at the front of the house fool you. It might not look like they have many drinks on offer but you’ll be surprised once you enter the back room. I didn’t even know there was another room at the back, which is actually bigger than the front, until Yuye informed me.
Enough of gawking at the interior deco and on with the food I hear you say. The food, in my opinion, matched if not exceeded the level of superiority of the atmosphere. As usual, we were given bread with butter. The difference with Bistro Vue’s bread and butter though was the beautiful layout of the creamy butter with carefully sprinkled salt and pepper on a little square stone. Even though I had been to Bistro Vue before, seeing the butter still made me smile.
Yuye thought the bread was made from buckwheat because of the harder and more fibrous texture (correct me if I’m wrong) and each person got their own little stick to enjoy with the butter. Although a little too hard for my liking, I have sensitive gums which break easily from hard bread, it tasted beautiful and was very fitting of the restaurant style.
I ordered an orange juice to go with my meal as I thought it was a tad early for alcohol. Yuye just ordered boring San Pellegrino mineral water. My orange juice was a bit small and mediocre for $6.50, I’d have preferred the orange juice at Three Bags Full for sure but it was still refreshing.
|Orange juice – $6.50|
Even for lunch, we decided to order three courses each. Come on! It’s a French restaurant, you have got to order entree and dessert. I was also very hungry. When I’m hungry, I order a lot. The good thing was, the portions were small enough to not make me bloated. Yuye ordered a house smoked salmon with toasted brioche for $23. It was nothing short of exquisite. The salmon mousse in the middle was silky smooth and had a rich but pleasant smoked salmon flavour. A little too salty to have by itself but absolutely heavenly with the brioche and side ingredients. The complementing ingredients included chopped onions, lime pulp, chives, capers and shallots and of course, the plate was lined with beautiful pieces of smoked salmon.
|House smoked salmon with toasted brioche – $23|
You also get a big piece of lemon wrapped in a gauze cloth to prevent pips from falling in your dish. Very smart. The extra lemon juice added the zing that was needed to bring out all the flavours and tone down the saltiness.
I ordered steak tartare for $18. Compared to Yuye’s awesome smoked salmon, it wasn’t completely up there but still a very delightful dish. I personally love anything sour, especially the kind provided by sour cornichons (French for gherkins). The steak tartare is juicy, flavourful and fresh. It was ground up together with what I believe to be cornichons, onions and chives. The crispy potatoes chips were beautiful. It was crunchy, light and interesting.
|Steak Tartare – $18|
The soft boiled quail egg goes well with the dish, however, I’d have liked a bit more egg yolk to make it even more creamy and eggy.
The entrees were so beautiful that by the end I was salivating and dying for more. Our mains came out soon after and we dug in. Yuye ordered the slow cooked wagyu intercostal (a cut of meat that is between the ribs) for $35. The meat was very tender, however, it was a little bland. Maybe it needed a little bit more sauce and a dash of lemon to really lift the taste. The mash was creamy and very buttery which I liked but Yuye thought was a little too heavy.
|Slow cooked wagyu intercostal – $35|
I ordered the confit duck for $29. The duck was to die for. The duck itself was perfectly tender and juicy with a crispy skin and the sauce was rich and thick. Most other restaurants I’ve been to usually made a slightly sweeter sauce to go with the confit duck but Bistro Vue stuck to the savoury. It was a good change for me because the sauce was just so good I dipped everything in it, even Yuye’s wagyu! The potatoes were cooked through and were small enough to soak up the sauce and eat in one bite. I think there was also pancetta or bacon of some sort in the confit duck dish as well which gave it another layer of flavour. The rocket leaves and potatoes rounded off the saltiness very well to create that perfect harmony of flavours.
|Confit Duck – $29|
We couldn’t have gone without the roast peas (petit poise a la Francaise) for $10. It was a side dish of buttery peas cooked with onions and bacon. A wonderful suggestion given by our waitress. Thank you. Just a note though, the onions were sour which I thought was a little strange at the start but then I realised they were probably pickled onions.
|petit poise a la Francaise – $10|
After the mains, we were ready for dessert. I ordered the chocolate souffle because I saw a few of these being served on other tables and it was so fascinating to watch! The waiter will come over to your table and physical stab a hole in your souffle and then pour in chocolate sauce. I couldn’t get over the possible photo opportunities and a taste of that rich and luscious looking dessert so I was ready to wait 20 minutes for it to come out. As I waited, I had a chance to reflect on what we had so far. Everything was going so well.
My souffle finally arrived and it looked perfect. What more do I need to say?
|Chocolate souffle – Free (usually $14) because we found an ant in Yuye’s mousse|
Are you ready for the pouring?
Look at it grow! I took many photos which I could have put together as a little gif to show how the souffle grew during the sauce pouring process but I think photos will do it just fine.
It actually tasted a little different to what I was expecting. Most of the souffles I’ve had were more dense but this one was purely made from egg whites so was very light and airy. Perhaps it was a little too egg white tasting for me but it was still very good. However, when I got to the bottom of the souffle, there was a thick layer of what looked like oil on top of the chocolate sauce. At that point Yuye realised that the chocolate sauce had split. This happens when the chocolate sauce is heated too hot and causes the cocoa butter to separate from the solids. I didn’t see it do that while it was being poured or when it was in that jug so it must have been the heat of the souffle as the chocolate sauce hit it. It was a shame because it made the sauce seem a little too oily.
Yuye ordered a chestnut mousse with confit orange and biscuit crumble for $14.
|Chestnut mousse with confit orange and biscuit crumble – again, free (usually $14) because of ant|
Before I even got to taste, Yuye…sadly…found an ant stuck on the caramelised sugar. AN ANT. Yes. I can’t believe it happened. Yuye immediately informed the waiter who apologised a number of times before taking the dish back to the kitchen. He asked us if there was any other dessert we wanted to have and that both of our desserts were on the house. We were already very full so it was left at that. Everything was going so well until that moment!
I contemplated a lot about whether it was right to write about this experience but at the end of the day a blog post is a blog post. It’s the true experiences of my food adventures and I need to give a true count of what happened, whether it was good or bad. Since I’m sure little misses like this happen even at the best restaurants and although it was a very unfortunate happening, I can still safely say that I like Bistro Vue and my good impression of the place has not been degraded in any way because of that ant. The atmosphere was great, the food was delicious and the service was superb. The waiter dealt with the situation very professionally as well which was nice.
What made me realise this was batasan’s reaction when I told him about it after the meal. I said to him ‘I can’t believe what just happened! We found an ant in Yuye dessert!’ All that batasan had to say was this ‘Why didn’t you just eat the ant? Ants are good for you. I would have eaten it.’ Yes it’s true ants are known to be very nutritious and I admitted have had ants before (by mistake of course) so what’s the big deal? I shouldn’t let that one thing tarnish my overall impression. So there.
I almost forgot, we also ordered two lattes to go with the desserts. The coffees came with two cute little orange cakes. I wasn’t too fond of the cakes because they were a bit dense but the coffee was fantastic.
If you want a fantastic meal (I’m sure you won’t be unfortunate like me) please do pay Bistro Vue a visit. I loved it and I’m sure you will too. Bistro Vue is located just behind Cafe Vue and Vue De Monde off Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD.
Phone: (03)9691 3838
430 Little Collins St, Melbourne 3000
Question time: have any of you had experiences where everything was going so well and then suddenly one little thing has ruined it for you? Did you do anything about it?