You know a place is good when you want to go back for more – more of what you had, or more samplings from the menu. It’s even a greater vote of confidence when you want to go back within a short timeframe and, in this case, we only had a week in Melbourne anyway. After dining solo at Café Vue, I raved about it to Monsieur Poisson so much so that he decided to forego his training course-sponsored lunch vouchers one day to try it out for himself. And being the considerate person that I am, I wasn’t going to let him dine alone!
Monsieur Poisson is already seated when I arrive and we order drinks. He has a caffe latte as per usual and I decide to try the juice of the day – orange and grapefruit. The coffee arrives with a little love-heart on the foam and my juice arrives vibrant and freshly squeezed in a short glass bottle. We notice that people ordering take-away receive their juices in the same type of bottle but with a metal lid on top for convenience.
We order a couple of things to share and first to be placed in front of us is the ‘Vue burger with fries’. It is a narrow diametered burger piled high with a thick beef pattie, bacon and melted cheese. The pattie is juicy with lots of flavour and evenly cooked to the centre. The thin-cut French fries are crispy, not greasy, not overly salted and are a light shade of golden. The burger and bowl of fries are served on a rustic wooden chopping board like the ‘Café Vue Lunchbox’, alongside a dollop of tomato ketchup.
Next up is the ‘Yorkshire pudding with roast Wagyu, mash and gravy’. It is interesting when you read the order of billing in the dish’s description as the Yorkshire pudding is the headlining act. And when the dish is presented to us, the pudding is indeed the largest component with thin strips of fatty Wagyu draped over its cavity. There is a quenelle of perfectly smooth and buttery potato mash also on the wooden serving board but no sign of the aforementioned gravy.
Café Vue has little cakes and macarons for sale which, yet again, I need to refrain from purchasing due to travel practicalities. I do purchase a pistachio cupcake for consumption later in the day however. The cake itself is dense, chewy and very green on the inside but I am letdown by the hard marzipan icing on top.
For dinner we feel we are in desperate need of an Asian food fix so we decide to take Mistress’ recommendation from her trip to Melbourne earlier in the year and visit Japanese Café Restaurant J, which sells an ingenious item known as a sushi burger. It is an interesting little place with a very long name where ‘SUSHI BURGER’ on the shop’s awning is actually larger than the name of the establishment itself.
Just inside the doorway is their takeaway counter with a display window of plastic models of the different sushi burgers on offer. A sushi burger is much like a sushi handroll, but in the form of two rice ‘burger buns’ sandwiching filling contents and held together by a sheet of nori.
Monsieur Poisson and I are seated at the back of the café and, upon browsing the menu, discover many set deals. My attention is captured by an udon and sushi burger set as there is tarako udon available. It is something which I had never had but with mentaiko becoming a recent obsession of mine, I am eager to try.
My udon arrives steaming with aromas of saltiness and fishiness. There is a star-shaped piece of carrot and plenty of wakame seaweed floating about. The udon noodles are standard but the soup which has been flavoured with mentaiko is particularly welcome on a cold Melbourne winter’s night. Soon after, our two sushi burgers arrive – one ordered as part of a set with the udon and another separately.
The sushi burgers come wrapped in paper and are presented on individual platters with pickled ginger alongside. We have ordered one which is yakiniku with barbequed beef and one with spicy salmon. They are easy enough to hold and do not fall apart much, but the surrounding nori does get a little chewy from moisture after a while so some bite-and-pull action is required.
Last to arrive is our sushi platter which features a tuna and cucumber maki roll down the centre surrounded by various nigiri. The maki roll is tasty with mayonnaise and the rice is packed to a nice firmness. The portions of fish for the nigiri are fresh, thickly cut and very generous in size. Following this our craving for Asian food is well and truly satisfied!
Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Tel: (03) 9691 3899
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm
Fri from 6:30pm for Cocktail Nights
Sat & Sun CLOSED
167 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC
Tel: (03) 9650 9877
Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 12pm-3pm (lunch)
Sun & Mon CLOSED