Dining Review · Melbourne

Bistro Guillaume

It’s funny how one can have a favourite cuisine even when one has not been to that country of origin. That certainly shows how globalised most of our world is these days, with migrants coming in with their cultures and food, that one is able to taste a part of their world without even having to travel there.

So for me, there is something about French cuisine that entices me, even though I’ve never been to France. Perhaps it is the excessive use of butter, garlic and herbs, or the whole meats used, or the delicacy of the pastries… Don’t get me wrong, I love my Singaporean food. But I guess it’s the decadence of the French ingredients and the beautiful presentation of their food that makes it feel like a fanciful experience whenever I dine at a French restaurant, transporting me into a world of rich flavours…

The first time I had French was at Au Petit Salut in Singapore…

Au Petit Salut in Singapore (40C Harding Road, Dempsey). I heard that they still serve up good French food!
Au Petit Salut in Singapore (40C Harding Road, Dempsey). I heard that they still serve up good French food!

Back then, they had just opened and the restaurant had a lunch deal for SGD30++ for a 3 course meal. That was quite a treat for me and my high school girlfriend, as we were still in university at that time and weren’t working. But it was a most memorable experience, having my first taste of escargot, duck confit and chocolate profiteroles, being served most attentively by the waiter, while being surrounded by the lush greenery of Dempsey Road. Back then, it all felt so fancy!

So in Melbourne, there were the experiences of PM24 (which is sadly closed now) where I had the most meltingly-beautiful duck breast, a couple of other French dinners and… Bistro Guillaume.

Bistro Guillaume at Crown Melbourne (photo credit to Ms Slim)
Bistro Guillaume at Crown Melbourne (photo credit to Ms Slim)

We first heard of Guillaume when Guillaume Brahimi appeared on Masterchef. The episode featured his Sydney restaurant, Guillaume at Bennelong and the food of course, looked so good! So when we found out that Guillaume had a bistro-themed restaurant in Melbourne, AND that they had a pre-theatre special, Ms Slim and I could not resist checking it out for Ms Slim’s birthday. We enjoyed our dinner there the first time so we decided to go one more time just before Ms Slim left for Singapore and we being nice, asked Ms Gan along. hehe.

Full view of the Yarra River (photo credit to Ms Slim)
Full view of the Yarra River (photo credit to Ms Slim)

I love the setting of the place – the full-length windows, the bistro-style chairs, the green-themed furniture and the cute lamp shades that looked like dresses hanging from the ceiling… very chic and Parisian!

Okay onto the food. For the entrees, Ms Slim and I went for the French classics – Onion Soup and Escargots.

Onion Soup
Onion Soup
Escargots persillade
Escargots persillade

Mmm I love the buttery foam on top of the Onion Soup and the crouton was perfection itself with the right crispiness and cheesiness – Ms Slim and I were fighting on who would get the last bite of the crouton! The escargots also tasted buttery and melted in our mouths with a yummy crust around it.. délicieux!

Ms Gan, on the other hand, went for the beef tartare

Steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes
Steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes

We were envisioning thin slices of raw beef and to our dismay, it came as a plop of diced raw beef. The taste of the beef was okay but as the presentation was abit off-putting, Ms Gan struggled to finish her entree 😦

With Ms Gan disappointed with her entree, she was hoping her main would turn out better…

Berkshire pork belly served with pickled cabbage and apple salad
Berkshire pork belly served with pickled cabbage and apple salad

The pork turned out a little dry which I found it strange as I thought the pork belly would be fatty enough. The sauce also turned out a little too sweet.

As for me, I decided to try a meat that I don’t usually eat – rabbit!

Braised rabbit in white wine sauce
Braised rabbit in white wine sauce

I’ve watched on Masterchef that rabbit meat can easily overcook and become dry. And unfortunately, this was the case for my main. The sauce was beautiful but it did not manage to cover up the dryness of the meat. Otherwise, it would have been a very nice dish.

As for Ms Slim, she went back to the same dish that she ordered on her birthday, steak!

Steak frites with béarnaise sauce
Steak frites with béarnaise sauce

Ms Slim enjoyed this steak previously that she decided to go for it again. The steak was cooked medium and the béarnaise sauce was wonderful. The chips were also well-cooked and the rocket leaves added a nice freshness to the dish. I also thought this was the best main dish of the night as all the ingredients were cooked well and the flavours were well-balanced. Ms Gan felt that the steak was a little too salty but well, this is coming from someone who doesn’t like to add salt when she cooks! 😛

We were getting full by this stage and we were glad that we decided to share 2 desserts instead of getting 1 each!

Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée
Profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce
Profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce

All this while, Ms Gan had not been very impressed with her meal. But the moment she bit into the desserts, her face finally lit up with a smile. Ms Gan has a very sweet tooth and these 2 desserts actually met her expectations – score!

The custard in the creme brulee had a good texture – smooth and creamy. The custard was also not overly sweet so that went well with the top layer of burnt sugar.

But really, the star dish of the night was the profiteroles… mmm. This dessert beats the one that I had at Au Petit Salut, hands-down. The pastry was crunchy and was almost like a biscuit. The ice cream also had the deep flavours of the vanilla bean and the chocolate sauce… wow. It was indeed served warm as what the menu said, and the chocolate was so smooth and decadent. The best profiteroles that I’ve had!

We were glad that the night ended on a high note with the beautiful desserts. There are some dishes that Bistro Guillaume certainly does well but unfortunately, there are also some misses. It is a pity that this makes the menu more limited in choosing the right dishes, as Bistro Guillaume does seem to have everything else going for a perfect dining experience – good reputation, good service and nice ambience. It would be nice if there can be more well-executed main dishes to choose from in the future!

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

And as to whether I am really a true fan of the French cuisine, I guess I can find out for myself when I finally get to step foot onto the South of France later this year. I can’t wait to find out what is the true-blue French food for the locals, and to discover la cuisine française!

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