430 Little Collins St, Melbourne (map)
Cafe Vue, the cheapest and friendliest of the Vue de Monde triumvirate of venues, sells four course lunchboxes for $15 a pop. The lunchbox menu changes (and is updated on their website) monthly.
I've already written about a few of Cafe Vue's monthly cocktail nights, and hereby present to you the Cafe Vue winter lunchboxes. I tried out the June, July and August lunchboxes with T, L and B, my fellow "ladies who lunch" (if by "ladies who lunch", one actually means "ladies who try to squeeze in an hour for lunch whilst beavering away in different law firms, but inevitably have to reschedule at least once or twice due to sudden deadlines, practice group seminars, meetings with barristers etc etc etc...").
First course: the starter
The June starter was pea paté, sandwiched in between two discs of pumpernickel. I really didn't like this one (but in all fairness I should point out that the main reason for this is that I loathe pumpernickel).
I much preferred the July starter: smoked salmon rillette with pommes gaufrettes. The potato crisps scooped up the mousse-like rillette beautifully. The August chicken and lettuce roll with dijonnaise would have been great, but because most of the lunchbox is prepared in advance, the lettuce was awfully droopy and sad.
Second course: the salad
In June we had a pumpkin and feta salad with yuzu dressing, which was just delicious. The pumpkin had just the right amount of softness, and the dressing had a real zing to it. I also really liked July's salad of cracked wheat and tabouli - it reminded me of the cracked wheat salad I'd had at Cumulus Inc only a few nights earlier. The tuna coleslaw in August was my least favourite of the three - for some reason the salad included bean shoots, which tasted pretty strange with tuna.
Third course: the savoury
All three of the savouries were great - June was the duck and mushroom pie, July was the hare and pumpkin sausage roll (which is not a combination I'd have thought of for a sausage roll, but it worked), and in August a petite baguette with duck cassoulet. One of the great things about these lunchboxes is that although there are four courses, each is small enough to avoid feeling too full all afternoon.
Fourth course: the sweet
The highlights for me were the desserts. The poached pears in chocolate mousse, served up in June, were heavenly - the mousse was so light, the pears were soft and the combination of flavours rocked. In July we were treated to Cafe Vue's chocolate caramel slice adorned with a fleck of gold leaf, which was also very good (be warned though that the chocolate layer is much, much thicker and richer than what you get in a run-of-the-mill choc caramel slice... the larger sized slices sold on the regular Cafe Vue menu look damn near impossible to finish).
And in August it was a selection of macaroons. Yes, according to VdM they're macarooooons - but there are those of us in the Melbourne food blogging community who know better. The (cough) macarons were honey, pistachio and chocolate flavoured and despite Duncan's low opinion of them (though admittedly, the one he tried looked like a radioactive hamburger in the photo he provided), the ones we had in the lunchbox were lovely - small and round and delicately flavoured. My favourite was the honey one. Of course, I'm no great expert in the macaron field, but I liked 'em.
I was all set to write up this post on the weekend, and then I discovered to my horror that I'd already accidentally deleted all but two of the August lunchbox photos from my digicam before I'd had the chance to upload them onto my computer. Crisis! Happily, the rest of the Ladies Who Lunch were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and revisit Cafe Vue on Tuesday - L (who hadn't been able to make it on the first August visit) got the lunchbox which she allowed me to rephotograph, and the rest of us got to try the Cafe Vue burger and french fries.
I had my doubts about the Cafe Vue burger as I'd heard it was made with a sweet brioche bun (like Maccas burgers??), but it turned out to be surprisingly tasty. Good fries too. I also liked the presentation - I know serving food on rustic wooden boards is the new black but I don't care, it looks great. The burger and fries only comes to $10, which I suppose is reflected in the smaller-than-average portion size (the bird's eye view below gives you a better idea of the proportions involved). Again, like the lunchbox portions, I appreciated the smaller size...
...because it left room for dessert! T and I both ordered a strawberry tart each ($4), filled with delectable crème pâtissière. You should TOTALLY order one of these if they're on offer that day. :)