Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Bistro Guillaume - Monarchy and Empire

ABC1 had interesting programming last night. The usual unbalanced reporting on the 7:30 Report was expected. Four Corners had a very interesting story on the corruption in the horse racing industry where Tony Mokbel seemingly played a starring role. Q&A was more irritating than usual. The audience almost appeared militant and the breakdown included the following recognised members: ALP 28%, Coalition 43%, Greens 15%. This adds up to 84%. Can one assume that 16% of the audience members were Katter's Australian Party or no longer aligned? One of the panellists, Debbie Kilroy, purports to be a prisoner's rights advocate and was quite vocal with respect to Campbell Newman making various cuts to various programmes. Strangely in 2007 she was admitted by the Supreme Court of Queensland to practice law despite being imprisioned for drug trafficking in 1989 for six years. I was always under the impression that to be admitted to practice law that you had to be of good character. I know of one person who was afraid to urinate behind a tree in Brisbane after leaving a pub for fear of being collected by the coppers and deemed one of bad character. As he was a law student, he believed having a conviction like that would preclude him from practising law. Certainly getting caught urinating behind a tree can not be as bad as drug trafficking but as learned when I lived in Brisbane for a while, it is indeed an interesting place and logic does not really apply.

Bistro Guillaume, located in Southbank at the Crown Casino had been on my list of places to try for some time. I have a great amount of respect for Guillaume Brahimi as a person and find him one of the more down to earth figures in the world of the celebrity chef. I met him at last year's Rockpool Winter Truffle Dinner and enjoyed a conversation with him. He did not exude pretension like some in the industry and he not only took an interest in what I do (which is hard to describe on the best of days even when not under the influence of good wine) however he is both interesting and quite savoir-faire. After dining at his flagship restaurant in Sydney a few times, I was very interested to see how he translated the winning formula, which included a view of Sydney Harbour into a bistro-like setting at the Crown Casino which overlooks the dirty Yarra River.

The first thing you will notice about Bistro Guillaume is the decor. Even a cursory glance into the place as you wander past will leave you with a mad desire to visit. It certainly is not revolutionary or stately but almost whimsical with its lime green and white colours. I never thought that I was in Paris, but I did like the ambience. It made me want to sit down, have pleasant conversation and just hang out. A bistro should engage a customer in such a way, so I give Guillaume some bonus points for psychologically manipulating me in a positive way.

I took advantage of the lunch special where you can enjoy three courses for $55. The highlight of these courses was the steak tartare. It wasn't the best tartare that I have ever (Neil Perry's offering at Rockpool Bar & Grill is currently my favourite) but it does come in with a high distinction. The rack of lamb met expectations but the highlight oddly enough was the zucchini flower that accompanied it. I chose cheese for the dessert course and although it was not really high quality, it complemented the experience and encouraged conversation and assisted in making the afternoon enjoyable.

Upon sitting down, the service was very attentive. A couple of glasses of Mumm champagne was ordered for $20/glass. It started proceedings until a bottle of wine could be liberated from their stock and enjoyed with the food. Funnily enough, the champagne was served in Mumm glasses. The following day I purchased a Costco membership. The same bottle of Mumm, that strangely came packaged with two Mumm branded champagne flutes sold at Costco for $44. Quite a healthy mark-up at the restaurant.

As the dining experienced progressed, service did not remain as enthusiastic as when we started. We were abandoned for periods and both our sparking water and wine glasses went dry at various points. It never got to the point where we were going to dehydrate or became annoyed but it was curious.

I certainly look forward to returning to Bistro Guillaume and trying the roasted chicken with paris mash. I hear it is great. I certainly want to gorge myself with more steak tartare however I may drink one of my bottles of Mumm and a bottle of San Pelligrino that was sourced from Costco before walking over just for financial relief.

Bistro Guillaume, Crown Casino

Bistro Guillaume
Link to review
Crown Casino, Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9292 4751
http://www.bistroguillaume.com.au
My Rating: 14/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: Try the speciality chicken



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