Bistro Guillaume, Southbank
My final work lunch of the 2016 year was at Bistro Guillaume, a handy spot with a vista including the ever tranquil Yarra River. We had a big group and a big appetite and both were taken care of over our experience. You can expect expensive, but quality French cuisine in an upmarket and corporate-feeling environment. Rich, creative, comforting are key words to describe the food on offer. The dessert, pork belly and duck confit I had all fit the bill. Service was functional but not forgiving if you did the injustice of mispronouncing a menu item. Decent food but you certainly pay for it, as well as the lovely view.
Bistro Guillaume is part of Crown Casino and is an easy walk from any of the taxi ranks. We had a nice table in the centre of the restaurant with a glass ceiling casting a comfortable amount of natural light. After a drink or two, we put through our orders and although there was a considerable wait, as we were a crowd that was understandable. Our host had oddly, limited our ordering initially to two courses (budgets lol), so naturally, I ordered three. My entree was the twice baked soufflé ($18) worth Roquefort sauce. This had a delightful bounciness and was a cheesy start to things. The sauce had the spicy piquancy that would expect from this kind of cheese. The side salad was random, and also the salad side orders were average.
The next round, of the mains, took a bit more time but we were plenty exciting when they arrived. Anthony had the steak frites ($42) with béarnaise sauce. It’s a dish that lived up it’s price tag, with a large serve of perfectly cooked steak. Lucy and I shared our two mains, the first being the duck confit ($40) with peas, shallots and lardons. The kitchen did an awesome job co-ordinating all the dishes coming out together. Here we enjoyed our crispy leg of duck with a balanced tasting base of the peas and salty pork. The size of the duck and the next main were on the small side, so it remains a costly exercise to get full.
Onto my choice. Which was of course, the Berkshire pork belly ($38) with Du Poy Lentils and vegetables. This was a tasty slice of belly with a guilt-ridden crunch and a subtle sweetness. Compared to other pork bellies I’ve enjoyed around Melbourne the taste does rank well, but the size is heaps less. Especially for a main. At almost forty dollars for a 4x10cm piece. Not that I even measure normally. We had plenty of fries and paris mash on the table and these were gourmet and filling. Potatoes always do the job so I wasn’t hungry by any means.
I assume we had a break, before we dove into the inevitable third course (lol). It’s dessert. I ordered the Mille-feuille ($16) and was mildly offended when the staff felt the need to correct me. Eh it’s is French. What wasn’t offensive was the final dish. This was a surprising modern take of the classic dessert with the layers conveying all the right flavours and textures. I enjoyed the crispy, buttery pastry with the dots of chocolate ganache and cream adding a delightful sweetness to it all.
I stole one of Ash’s profiteroles ($16) with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. The theatre of the dish is nice, but it didn’t really do anything for me with the profiterole not tasting completely fresh and the vanilla ice-cream being WAY too frozen. It’s like when you accidentally leave something at the back of the freezer cold. It made for an uncomfortable bite and that sauce didn’t achieve much. I also stole a bite of Georgina’s brulee and that was plenty yum and more as expected.
Coffees finished the afternoon and these were quite good actually. I liked the matching macaron, a cute touch. At Bistro Guillaume some hits, some misses. When it’s great the food from the kitchen is some memorable stuff. Though I can’t helping shaking the corporate crowd (us included!) and there might be better French around for this price tag.