Thursday, 2 July 2009

HOT: Cafe Vue, 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

I can still remember my visit to Shannon Bennett’s first Carlton restaurant and my initial encounter with multiple courses of wildly fantastical food combinations. Now, when I am asked to name Melbourne’s best restaurant, I invariably answer ‘Vue de Monde’.

Since moving to his CBD location, Bennett has expanded his repertoire beyond molecular gastronomy to encompass the rustic French cuisine of Bistro Vue and the casual scene of Café Vue. His empire now hits all price points, but the high quality of the food and careful attention to detail remains a consistent theme.

Café Vue is a narrow indoor/outdoor metallic space which serves surprisingly reasonable food. To whit - their $15 ever-changing lunch box menu is delightfully presented and delicious. On the day of my lunch with Leanne, our ‘box’ contained a shot of jewel coloured borsht dolloped with a poached quail’s egg; pearls of Tunisian couscous with broccoli and red onion served in a Tiffany-box frilled ramekin; a buttery oxtail and vegetable pastie and two little, almost fizzy, yoyo biscuits made of yuzu. As they say on Masterchef Australia, every dish had ‘punch’. I noticed that most of the office workers queued up for the sleek burger and fries ($12), so I presume it’s also good.

Already I’m looking forward to my next sojourn to Café Vue for my birthday treat. Every Friday they host a cocktail night and happily July’s theme is my favourite children’s book, Alice in Wonderland. So I can’t partake in Heston Blumenthal’s Victorian Feast, but I can enjoy five small courses at Café Vue including magical mushroom croquet-monsieur, March Hare’s carrot and goats cheese gnocchi and bread and butterflies pudding. There’s even something extra for RM - each course is matched with a Little Creatures beer or beer-based cocktail.

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