Saturday night is always date night in the Hinch
household. It’s even more of a special tradition because we live in
separate apartments and that’s the first time we get together that day.
We’ve had great night at places like The Botannical,
Taxi, Nobu, Cutler & Co, Radii, No.35. And then we found Bistro
Guillaume at Crown – the new eponymous Melbourne adventure for Guillaume
It became our Date Night spot. Same time, same
station, same table and for me, often the same meals including Yamamoto
oysters from Coffin Bay.
They spoiled us. On my birthday this year, Adam
Sivic, one of the best, most professional and most personable maître d’s
anywhere, and Head Chef Beau Vincent, tracked down and cooked me New
No wonder we loved the place. And then they suddenly
closed down. A raging success of a restaurant shut its doors. It wasn’t
a failure. To put it delicately: Doing a restaurant deal with Crown is a
bit like leasing a Westfield Plaza storefront from Frank Lowy. You can
be evicted or moved.
In this case Bistro Guillaume is moving. It will
re-open again in 2011in the space formerly occupied by Philippe Mouchel
at La Brasserie.
Mrs Nosebag and I were shattered. We’ve since
re-discovered Neil Perry’s Rockpool [and will review that soon] but
recently we had a classy Saturday night at Guillaume’s. Not in Melbourne
but at the Opera House in Sydney.
The standards there still soar as high as those
high-arched ceilings. For once, here is a restaurant where the
justifiably world class view takes second place to the food.
For an appetite teaser they served small cones
stuffed with sashimi and wasabi. The vegequarian, who doesn’t like raw
fish, loved it. I could have had ten as a main course.
The scallops were a classic Guillaume dish. Cooked
enough to seal them and served with Shiitake mushrooms, a smooth
cauliflower puree and a chicken jus that shouldn’t work but always does.
I’m always surprised and satisfied the way chicken and even veal stock
can subtly enhance scallops or prawns.
Guillaume@Bennelong has the same intricate and
exquisite baby salad ingredients as his Melbourne enterprise. You could
be Gulliver in Lilliput. Tiny, tiny beetroot, mushrooms and vegetable
flowers served with miniature croutons and goat’s curd. It used to be a
weekly favourite at Crown.
The also do a great roast fennel with lemon and
olive oil. [Ironically a plant we equated with hemlock and poison as
kids in New Zealie is now one of my favourite vegetables either roasted
or in a salad.
The tortellini of peas that Mrs. N ordered was a
beautiful dish of broad beans and globe artichoke with a light touch of
tarragon butter. A subtle touch I would call a ‘tarragon of virtue’.
The label ‘paragon of virtue’ would have to be
reserved for the desserts. We tested a few in the name of research.
Nougat with roasted peanuts, caramel ice cream and banana. A mini panna
cotta with fresh berries and the best petit fours. They included strips
of caramel toffee and the ‘in’ dessert these days – macarons (or
macaroons as we used to call them). Meringues are back!
The prices are Sydney prices. Between 30 and 40
dollars for entrees and 50 for mains. They also have an eight-course
degustation menu [including a ribeye of Wagyu beef] at $180 or $250 with
some classy matching wines.
Overall, it is a stellar Opera House performance worth treating yourself to.
It lives up to Guillaume’s motto: ‘l’amour du travail bien fait’.