Despite being stranded in the US South, Cindy kept her finger on the Melbourne food pulse and sent around an email reminding me of The Age's Winter Restaurant Express - a week-long promotion where some of Melbourne's fanciest restaurants offer two-course lunches with a glass of wine for just $30. We'd visited Oyster the last time this kind of promotion was on, and been just slightly underwhelmed by the vego dish on offer. We were wowed by Cafe Vue's vego work at their cocktail night, so we had high hopes that Bistro Vue would come through for us this time around.
We turned up a little late, and were worried that we were going to be hurried through the meal so we weren't in the way of the second lunch sitting. The restaurant didn't seem too busy, but we still felt a little pressure from the staff to get ourselves in and out fairly quickly. It took some of the fun out of the whole meal, but it was at least half our fault so it's hard to be too upset.
The menu at these $30 special events usually includes an entree, a couple of mains and a dessert, and each diner gets to pick either the dessert or entree to go with their choice of main. Unfortunately, there was no vegetarian entree option, meaning that both Cindy and I were forced to go with the main and the dessert (well, me anyway - Cindy wouldn't have had it any other way). The vego main was a butternut risoni - not quite another risotto, but not that far away, and not quite as imaginative as I'd hoped for.
Still, it was richly flavoured, dotted with scrumptious goat's cheese and was warm and filling - not bad for a typical Melbourne August day.
The dessert for the day was a pistachio crème brûlée, served up with a little blob of grapefruit ice cream plopped on a slightly cardboardy wafer. The crème brûlée was perfectly made, with a brittle, caramelised top just waiting to be cracked open. The stunning green was presumably meant to highlight the pistachio content, but the flavour was overpoweringly amaretto-based. Again - quite good without being as stunning as I'd imagined. Perhaps my expectations for the whole meal were just a little too high.
Still, we left with a good feeling - the restaurant serving up some weird little muffin treats to go along with our coffees. They weren't outstanding (the muffins - the coffees were great), but any kind of bonus treat like this leaves you with a smile on your face.
So, again, Cindy and I were a bit let down by the $30 fancy lunch special. Perhaps we just have unreasonably high expectations, or perhaps these are the kind of situations where restaurants don't give a lot of thought to the vegetarian options - both here and at Oyster they felt a little tacked on. Maybe we're better off booking in for the super-expensive degustation-type events, where the vego stuff tends to be a little more imaginative.
Address: 430 Little Collins Street (entrance on New Chancery Lane)
Phone: 9691 3838