Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gitane Bistro (South Yarra) 11/2012

*Click on pic's to enlarge them.

We have eaten here several times in the past and reviewed this restaurant, at 52 Toorak Rd West, under it's former name -  Fawkner Bistro. We liked it. The food was good and it was warm and welcoming. Now,having been taken over by the children of Jaques Reymond it has a more French feeling about it but it has retained all it's good qualities. The tables are  clean and neat with their white cloths,


 the decor is simple with a fun painting


and a few posters. One I particularly liked advertises the renowned aperitif Absynthe, a drink I enjoy with all the ceremony that goes with drinking it. Unfortunately it's not on the drinks menu.
 Service was especially friendly and helpful provided by young and enthusiastic staff. 
I started with a substantial charcuterie platter which was definitely for sharing. It was served on a panel of a box that once contained fine Sauterne.

 Everything on the platter was tasty but the pork rillettte was outstanding. 
A starter of paparadelles with chicken liver was a well prepared dish although we prefer the livers to be a little rarer than these were.

We tried three mains and each was excellent. A fillet of barramundi well prepared in a light cream sauce was delicate, moist with excellent 
Chicken, off the bone and crumbed was also a good though rather bare dish.

I preferred my rump steak although it came medium rare rather than blue. The accompanying hous made sauce was particularly fine.

 A very satisfying meal.
Score: 14/20

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vue de Monde (Melbourne CBD) 11/2012

* Click on pic's to enlarge them.
A meal at Vue de Monde is, in some ways, like a brilliant and original symphony orchestrated by a consummate virtuoso conductor who manages his players and their instruments in an almost flawless performance. The ten course degustation menu is a series of small dishes, closer to 15 than 10, each a little gem, which together make a complete meal. There is some theatre, both in the way dishes are presented and in the way the restaurant has been constructed on the 55th floor of the Rialto building. Nothing here has come about without thought. The disposition of the tables and the incredible views over Melbourne that they offer, the skin covered tables, the kangaroo skin covered chairs, the table settings with smooth worn stones sliced and grooved to hold salt and pepper or slit to hold a knife or heated and left in the bottom of the cloth bags in which bread is presented.

Even the gnarled roots that act as cutlery rests. It is all functional, unusual, attractive and very Australian.
Service is immaculate, informed, unobtrusive and efficient. I think all tables have views over Melbourne and several also look over the large open kitchen, where chefs can be seen working quickly and efficiently to plate up dishes.  

We started with cocktails in the Lui Bar, an outstanding space offering small tables for two or chaise lounges for larger groups. We had two house special cocktails - Lola Montes and a French aperitif Lillet, served with champagne and flavoured with mint, cucumber and a strawberry, a superb lightly spiced aromatic prelude to dinner. Shannon Bennett, the heart, soul and brain behind this enterprise, personally offered us a small pre dinner entree atly called 'From Russia with Love' made up o caviar, trout, celeriac remoulade,
while we chatted and admired the view. 
I will not describe each dish and it's refinement in detail. Suffice it to say there was not a jarring note in the whole meal. Despite the large number of dishes we did not feel that we had over eaten.  We drank 2007 Basil Farm Pinot Noir from the Bellarine Peninsula (Victoria)
Our menu was as follows:
Smoked eel, white chocolate caviar.

Salt cured wallaby

Pea, pistachio, strawberry.

Oysters, the shells had been opened and a light sauce added before having the top of the shell replaced.
Another little amuse bouchea truffle meringue
Spanner crab, kohlrabi, avocado, beach herbs.
Roasted marron, tarrago butter.
Melbourne onion soup. I found this deconstructed French onion soup both delightful and amusing. The soup was infused with herbs using and old style coffee percolator
and then pouted over a bowl containg all the elements of a traditional French onion soup in a completely different structure. The bread was in little cubes, the gruyere cheese both crumbed and creamed, the onion both in crisp rings and lightly grilled
What's more it tasted great.
Duck egg, asparagus a variation on coddled egg and asparagus
 Kangaroo, artichoke, pears,smoked bone marrow. As kangaroo was not an uption for one of us, and especially the bone marrow, we were offered an alternative, a rock garden of lamb.
Cucumber sorbet, crushed herbs. This was presented as a bowl of fresh herbs

 liquid nitrogen was poured into the bowl instantly freezing the herbs

which we crushed with a wooden pestle before a quenelle of minted ice cream was ladled on top.

Barramundi prawn, herbs, smoked bone marrow.

Flinders Island lamb, olive, Australian anchovies, mustard
Pigeon, artichoke, mushroom, parsley, hay
Blackmore Waghu, 9+ we were told, beetroot, pear, truffle, the Western Australian truffles were very fresh. Shaved at the table they had plenty of that special aroma and flavour so sought after.

Assortment of cheeses, bread, jams. A small section of the cheese trolley.

Quince, Apple, breads and beetroot.
  Three jams.
We were welcome to have more cheeses if we wished.
 Passion fruit, licorice, coconut.
Mandarin, violet and vanilla custard.
Chocolate souffle, chocolate mouse, creme anglais.
The was, I stress, without exception, the finest we have ever eaten.
Here a chef is adding smoke to the chocolate.

A selection of petit fours. I don't know how they knew it was our anniversary!
 The view with reflections of decorative neon sculptures which were actually behind me!

This was a meal to remember. It was a meal that turned food into art, that was filled with originality raising the better than ordinary to extra ordinary, a theatrical meal but not excessively so, a multidimensional experience both cerebral and sensuous operating to titivate all the senses. 
Score: 19+/20