Bistro Guillaume


Bistro Guillaume @ Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank
3 June 2011


My visit to the original Bistro Guillaume a couple of years ago was an unfortunately disappointing experience, one that left me perplexed by its immense, and seemingly unmerited, critical acclaim.  Being awarded two hats in the Good Food Guide, it seemed, was not contingent on the delivery of high quality food.  Clearly that first encounter was not conducive to an open mindset in respect of our recent visit to the newly reopened establishment.  Still, I had reason to be hopeful – the second iteration of Bistro Guillaume had been launched with a glowing Epicure review. Surely the esteemed Epicure critics could not err twice on the same restaurant?


Bistro Guillaume now occupies the space vacated by Philippe Mouchel’s The Brasserie in the Crown Entertainment Complex.  Frilly light fixtures aside, the dining room retains much of the warm familial atmosphere exuded by its predecessor while dispensing with the more formal aspects, such as table cloths.  Through the pass, we spy Iron Chef Guillaume Brahimi marshalling the kitchen – a positive sign that engendered optimism.


We started with two very traditional French entrees. The first was a French onion soup. Rich and well seasoned, the soup was characterised by the sweet, earthy flavour of caramelised onions. The accompanying cheese croutons had retained their crispness despite being immersed in liquid – a pleasant surprise. The second was a steak tartare that was served with pommes gaufrettes – effectively thin potato wafers. It was a decent variant of the classic French dish and was notable for the coarsely diced beef which added appreciable texture. However, ultimately, the dish lacked the complexity of flavour exhibited by others around town – the version offered by Coda being  one such example.



While the entrees were enjoyable, the main courses that followed were hugely uninspiring. A dish of roast chicken, for instance, was highlighted by overcooked and dry flesh – the breast meat in particular exhibited an almost chalky consistency.  The accompanying mashed potato was ordinary and the chicken jus was watery and insipid. It was a dreary mess of a dish. Our second main course of confit duck leg was scarcely any better.  Served with brussel sprouts, lardons and mustard, the duck leg also suffered from heavy overcooking and was sadly missing the gaminess that is usually associated with duck. 


 

For dessert, we shared profiteroles that were served with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. The choux pastry balls were relatively well prepared, absorbing the rich, bittersweet chocolate sauce with each bite. However, while the inherently simple dessert classic was pleasant, it was not especially memorable. 


We paid approximately $120 for the five items that comprised our meal. Given that the simplistic food was middling at best, it is a price tag that does not appear to be entirely justified. Indeed, for $60 per head, there are a plethora of reasonable dining options in Melbourne which, in my opinion, offer materially superior cuisine.

Bistro Guillaume offers a frustratingly mediocre standard of fare. While its offerings are not terrible, they are hardly recommendable in the competitive Melbourne dining market. Somewhat ironically, for simple French bistro food in Melbourne, my recommendation goes to Philippe Mouchel’s PM24. While PM24’s prices are marginally more expensive than those of Bistro Guillaume, its food is, for my tastes immeasurably superior. To those considering a visit to Bistro Guillaume, I would suggest saving your pennies and making a trip to 24 Russell Street instead.


Food: 5.5
Service: 5
Value: 4.5
Overall: 5

-BC-


Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Allan said...

just as well that i haven't been to bistro guillaume. and i did enjoy pm24 though! =)

Anonymous said...

For reders who prefer better pictures:

http://www.ieatthereforeiam.blogspot.com/

BC said...

The pictures on that blog are good!

And we see that the author's posts are just as insightful as his witty comments. See, for example, his enlightening commentary @ http://www.melbourneculinaryjournal.com/2011/05/luxbite.html?showComment=1311035263650.

We could only aspire to such brilliance!

Catherine said...

I agree, the pictures are good enough! Anonymous, you are not doing 'http://www.ieatthereforeiam.blogspot.com/' any favours with that comment, just reiterating his behaviour as displayed in the Luxbite post & on twitter.

On a different note, I visited the previous Bistro Guillaume and didn't find it anything great either.. At least now I know I don't need to bother with the new one!

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