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Cafe Vue offers Friday night cocktail nights – $75 for 5 cocktails with a matched course, with the menu changing monthly. I have a weakness for cocktails (which was honed on my recent honeymoon) and a love of Shannon Bennett’s food so cocktail night became a must do.

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The theme for the October night was “Soirée au Monastère”, inspired by the beverages produced by monks. Mr M and I found ourselves at Cafe Vue on an unseasonably warm Friday evening to find the cafe swarming with groups of young women, out for a sex and the city-esque evening. Apparently the gender mix is normally more neutral, so I am not sure what drew the crowd – maybe the girls had a thing for monks?

The first cocktail arrived and it was a shandy!?

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Shandy made from Chimay Red, a Trappist monk beer

The shandy was actually very refreshing on this warm evening. It was paired with a low temperature poached egg with white asparagus that was artfully displayed in an egg container:

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Low temperature poached egg with white asparagus and wood sorrel

The yolk and the white had been separated, with the white being cooked to a sort of lumpy omelette consistency and the yolk remaining runny. We were informed that the green substance in the pipette was a tarragon butter that we were encouraged to inject into the egg. I tasted the tarragon butter on its own and it basically just tasted of richness rather than any fresh herby goodness.

Saskia recently ate at Vue de Monde proper and told me that they had this egg as part of their meal.

This was a pretty rich dish although the richness was offset somewhat by the refreshing shandy. I couldn’t help but think that the soft boiled egg and toast soldiers of my childhood (and I will be honest, my adulthood) was pretty similar and did not require any involved techniques…

Onwards and upwards, our second cocktail arrived:

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Screaming lizard with Green Chartreuse

The cocktail was pretty alcoholic but refreshing and was made from the advertised Green Chartreuse together with Tequila and I think lime. The drink was sort of like a margarita and pretty tasty.

It was paired with a confit chicken with chicken crisp apricot gel and an unidentified green gel:

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Confit chicken with chicken crisp, apricot gel and unidentified green gel

Some serious technique had gone in to making this dish.  The waitress explained that the chicken crisp (which had a kind of prawn cracker-ish consistency) was made by cooking down the chicken, forming it into a roll, dehydrating it and then finally frying it. The confit chicken was tasty but the crisp was at times less than crispy, tasting almost stale. I think the problem was that the dish was probably plated up ahead of time and the moisture from the confit had seeped into the crisp, making it slightly soggy. The edges of the crisp that were not in contact with the confit were deliciously crispy. Similar to the tarragon butter the green gel tasted only of richness. I am allergic to apricot so didn’t try the gel, but Mr M told me it didn’t add much.

At this point we were a little ‘meh’ on our experience so far, although we were comforted by the two cocktails we had been given, the two pre-drinks we had before we got to Cafe Vue and three cocktails to follow (I promise we aren’t alcoholics!).

Next drink was an Aviation made with Dom Bénédictine and I think white chocolate vodka. Note the photo was taken mid-way through the drink, Cafe Vue was more generous than this!

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Aviation with Dom Bénédictine

We were told to sip on the Aviation – it was quite a warming drink thanks to the alcohol content and the Dom Bénédictine. While we were sipping our drinks I noticed a guy walk in with a bucket of steaming dry ice. The dry ice was put to effect in the kitchen where it was added to the chilled consomme (the pictures below are after the dry ice had subsided):

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Red claw and broad beans with chilled tomato consommé

This dish was the absolute stand out of the night. It looked beautiful and the flavour of the consomme was amazing – full of flavour, very fresh with a bit of vinegary acidity The consomme together with the warming, boozy Aviation were a winning combination. Due to my wheat allergy my dish was sadly sans the red claw parcels (you can see my dish above, with the abundant broad beans). I tasted the red claw inner of Mr M’s dish and it was great. At this stage we were very pleased with the way the evening was headed.

Next came the Queen Elizabeth, my favourite cocktail of the night:

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Queen Elizabeth featuring Dom Bénédictine

As far as I recall (and let’s be honest, I was 6 drinks in by this stage), the Queen Elizabeth had been made with pear juice, so the cocktail was light and refreshing and damn good!

While we were waiting for our food to arrive I noticed a waiter coming from the restaurant into the cafe with a couple of meals. I read a while back on Where’s the Beef that the vegetarian meals served at the Cafe Vue cocktail night come straight from Vue de Monde. Seeing the meals coming into the restaurant I lamented the fact that both Mr M and I are happy carnivores, but we were comforted somewhat by the delicious waft of jamon coming from the kitchen.

I was therefore very pleased and surprised when one of the said meals arrived in front of me:

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Broad bean salad with broad bean mousse

I was the lucky recipient of a broad bean salad with broad bean mousse due to the oft mentioned wheat allergy. I was particularly pleased as I am a huge broad bean fan, but not so keen on the double  peeling required. This dish was great – I loved the creaminess of the mousse together with the freshness of the broad bean and radish salad.  The salad also featured the edible flowers of the broad bean. Beautiful.

The Queen Elizabeth was supposed to be served with Welsh rarebit, here is Mr M’s dish:

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Welsh rarebit with jamon rillette

I tried a little of the jamon rillette component of the dish; the only wheat free part of the dish as the cheese topping included a bechamel made with flour. The rillette was intense and meaty. Mr M reported that as a whole the dish was deliciously rich in flavour and that it worked particularly well with the matched cocktail.

Cafe Vue was on a roll.

Our final cocktail of the night was a Shuttle with yellow chartreuse and fresh raspberries:

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Shuttle featuring Yellow Chartreuse

It was great, pretty fresh but with a kick. I loved the boozy raspberries.

Our dessert arrived and it was pretty spectacular:

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Textures of lemon tart

It just looked so beautiful on the plate. The dessert consisted of blobs of lemon curd, a sprinkling of biscuit and a ‘skid’ of Swedish (I think) meringue which had been cooked in a pan over low heat until it just coloured.  It was a winning dish, particularly from Mr M’s perspective as he is a massive citrus fan.

All in all, it was a great night. We were a little underwhelmed by the first couple of dishes but the last three really impressed. For the price, it is outstanding value and we will definitely be back. I was told that the November night is likely to feature Belvedere vodka infusions – yes!!

Details

Cafe Vue
Normanby Chambers
430 Little Collins Street (between Queen & William Streets)
Ph: 03 9691 3899

Cocktail night – every Friday evening at 7pm
$75 per person. Reservations essential.

See Cafe Vue’s website for more details.

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