Bistro Vue @ 420 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
4 March 2011
Following my bitterly disappointing experience at Shannon Bennett’s Vue de monde last year, I have been less inclined to test the waters at its sibling restaurant, Bistro Vue. Absent the recent Melbourne Food and Wine Festival “express lunch” promotion, I may never have taken the opportunity to verify my preconceptions about the quality of the food at this one-hatted French diner.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival express lunches allow individuals to dine at a range of high end restaurants at an affordable price. For $35 at participating restaurants, diners can indulge in 2 courses and a glass of wine with tea or coffee to finish. At Bistro Vue, between the two of us, we were able to sample all three courses available for selection - an entrée, main and dessert.
Our entrée was a fresh salad of frisee scattered with a few pieces of duck meat and prisms of bacon. The duck meat was fairly ordinary in taste, but the bacon provided a nice salinity to the tangy dressing. It was a somewhat promising start.
The main of “chicken leg supreme” and white cannellini bean cassoulet was a homespun dish that was severely lacking in character. While the chicken meat was tender, the flavours, dominated by a taste of underseasoned chicken, were overwhelmingly dull and dreary. Furthering the mediocrity were the equally bland tomato sugo cannellini beans which were cooked to a brittle and crumbly texture rather than the textbook smooth and fluffy consistency. As a whole, the dish was a poor rendition of the French classic.
For dessert, we were served a pistachio crème brulee. It goes without saying that texture is crucial when it comes to a crème brulee. The consistency of the custard in a crème brulee should be velvety smooth and delicate; discernable clumps are usually indicative of overcooking. While Bistro Vue’s crème brulee had the requisite sugary hard shell, the custard was fatally curdled and artificially flavoured to taste more like cough syrup than pistachio. At a place that is as highly regarded as Bistro Vue, one would reasonably expect better.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival express lunch promotion gives restaurants not only the opportunity to share a taste of their culinary creations with those who would not ordinarily dine at their respective establishments but also the chance to entice these patrons back for future meals. The dishes we sampled at Bistro Vue were, for the most part, lacking in finesse, flavour and appeal. On account of this slapdash performance, Bistro Vue has failed to convince me that it is a restaurant worthy of a visit, let alone a revisit.