Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Café Vue 430 Little Collins Street - Fifi Box

With five of Shannon Bennett's café's dispersed around Melbourne, you are never far away from sampling his fabled "lunch box" and on a recently cold and blustery day, I arranged to have a lunch meeting at the site of the old Vue de Monde mothership at 430 Little Collins Street, where Café Vue shares its space with Bistro Vue. There are advantages to frequenting this particular Bennett café as you have direct access to the heavily stocked bar in the Bistro next door and every Friday night (subject to confirmation on their website) Café Vue puts on a cocktail degustation where five alcoholic drinks are paired with five small courses for the tidy amount of $95. There is a reason to stay in the CBD after hours when you combine music, cocktails and small servings of food but I digress.

At both breakfast and lunch you need to arrive with a certain amount of resolve and patience to take on the masses not only on the hunt for takeaway coffee and desserts but be ready to snatch a table when ultimately one becomes free. There are roughly thirty seats at tables in the small dining room, including some high stools that border the glass wall. There are a few tables that would be considered "outside" of the café, but they are not truly outside, just essentially comfortable areas retrofitted in the corridor connecting the entrance and Bistro Vue.

Staff do a good job keeping both the diners at the tables and those having takeaway requirements under control. I intended to spend over an hour here but it turned out to be two because of the ability to order drinks from the Bistro Vue bar, as ultimately I enjoyed three rounds of Hendricks Gin and Tonic ($11.50/each) all whilst enjoying pleasant conversation. The menu is simple and effective but I noticed that it leads customers asking a vast array of questions about the various dishes. How many questions can you really devise about a sandwich or a salad? People manage to at this place simply because they are looking for the full Shannon Bennett Vue de Monde experience but wait, this is Café Vue.

The 48 hour lamb leg ($24) with Yorkshire pudding, battered mash and mint salad seemed appropriate to order considering the weather. Normally I would purchase a lunch box as they all contain a starter, salad, savoury and sweet items for a reasonable $20. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free lunch box options which only compounds the popularity of this café when the lunch whistle sounds but that is what gives this space such charm. I could cut my lamb leg with the back of my knife and the pudding along with the mash made for a hearty single course lunch whilst I sipped my Hendricks & Tonic.

Not being a stranger to Café Vue during the day, I find the service consistently "busy" satisfying everyone's needs which does tend to lead to some delays if you are a seated diner. An LED television is affixed to a wall so you can keep up to date on the never-ending Labor leadership crisis also.

When I want a quick fix of Shannon Bennett's fare, I head to Café Vue. Knowing that on days where I just get a lunch box to takeaway, I just have to part with a single orange note is refreshing in a way as I can live my life vicariously through what is happening on top of the Rialto tower through a few morsels that not only evoke memories of the past but further entice me back into the warm arms of the Bennett empire.

Cafe Vue, Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Café Vue
430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9691 3899
My Rating: 13.25/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 3.25/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 80% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Café Vue at 430 Little Collins Street.

Café Vue on Urbanspoon