Friday, 22 August 2008

In the bleak midwinter at Cafe Vue

Cafe Vue
430 Little Collins St, Melbourne (map)
9691 3899

Cafe Vue June lunchbox

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.

July Lunchbox

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...").

August lunchbox

First course: the starter

Pea patéMousse

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.

Lettuce roll

Second course: the salad

Pumpkin and feta salad with yuzu dressing

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.

Cracked wheat salad

Third course: the savoury

Duck and mushroom pie

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.

RollCassoulet roll

Fourth course: the sweet

Poached pears in chocolate mousse
Choc caramel slice

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.

Cafe Vue burger

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...

Cafe Vue burger

...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. :)

Strawberry tart


Simon said...

Lovely post Claire! I'm so jealous I missed the June and July lunchboxes :( I did try the August one though ... it was pretty disappointing compared to ones I've had in the past. The macarons this month were ridiculously sweet (and also for some reason I got 2 honey and no chocolate). The pies at Cafe Vue are always awesome! (especially the pork ones - wish I could just buy them in bulk).

The burger looks really interesting and I look forward to trying it sometime. Has anyone tried the Vue du Monde selection of chocolates in a box before?

Finally, there's a nice little cafe just recently opened called Gifts @ CQ (418 Little Collins) just near Cafe Vue near the corner of Queen St. $11.90 buffet lunch includes a glass of wine (or alternatively softdrink, juice, soup of the day) from 11.30 - 2.30 weekdays. Sound a little dubious? I was very pleasantly surprised! Clean little cafe, well lit, plasma tv, pleasant service, healthy food, real crockery and cutlery. The day we went it was a very fresh and tasty salad (potato, tomato, crunch lettuce, celery, cucumber, bacon) as well as saffron rice, lamb korma, chicken and cream penne, fish goujons with lemon and tartare. The menu seems to change daily (1 salad + 4 warm things) and from what I could tell is being brought in freshly made from a nearby caterer or hotel (not made by the staff onsite) and kept warm in stand alone bain maries. Forgot to look but I think they might have sandwiches etc too.

FoodieFi said...

Hey Claire, I love how you've done this post, working through each of the courses for winter! I'm quite taken with the three savoury courses, particularly the sausage roll.

I like the look of the cafe Simon recommends to...will have to wander down.

claire said...

Thanks Simon. I haven't tried those chocolates (as you know I like but don't LOVE chocolate). Hmmmm, as for that cafe you recommended... the fact that it's part of CQ and that it has a plasma tv are turn-offs for me, and I've never been a big fan of buffet. But I'll stick my head in next time I'm walking past to see if it can tempt me.

Hiya Fi, glad you liked the post! I started writing it month by month, but there were so many damn photos I thought it would be more efficient (and more interesting) to group them according to course. :)

Maffy said...

Great review! I try to get down there for each lunchbox (so once a month I try to make the trek), and have been meaning to blog about it forever, but I'm far too slack.

coffeedownunder said...

I had my first lunchbox from cafe vue yesterday. It was pretty damn good. At first, I was dubious that it contained Scotch Quail egg... I haven't had a scotch egg since I was about 6 and at the time I was not overly impressed by the experience. This time i enjoyed it. Anyway... It came with Tuna and pea risoni, and roast beef pita bread pocket... finished with a pistachio cup cake

claire said...

Oooh, the September menu sounds pretty good, coffeedownunder. Especially the pistachio cup cake! thanks for reporting back :)

Simon said...

Vue has on their website an interview and attached recipe for the pistachio cupcakes: