Shannon Bennett has expanded his empire to the suburbs with the establishment of Cafe Vue at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. It’s been open since the end of November and I think it’s still experiencing some teething problems in the kitchen and the service.
We had a 12:30pm booking and had been told that we needed to be out by 2pm. No problems. We were seated promptly in the stylish glass-encased dining room (looking over the main Heide building) and waited patiently, then impatiently, for water and menus. After more fruitless attention-seeking, we managed to place our food order from the Menu du Jour – 2 courses for $35, 3 courses for $45 – and a little drawstring calico bag of warm bread was clipped onto our table.
Our (shared) entree was prawns en papillote. It came in an unexpected wrapping of banana leaves and the parcel unveiled five juicy prawns simmering in their own juices. Very nice.
For mains I chose the pork belly with cheese crust with spring vegetables while RM had the roast chicken with corn polenta. This is where the kitchen really excelled – the pork belly was juicy, with the cheese melding into the fat which I’ve never eaten before. RM rhapsodised about the sweet corn puree and the mustard dressed greens. Many of the ingredients come from Heide’s own vegetable and herb garden, and the freshness of flavour was really evident.
Our (shared) dessert was a pistachio crème brûlée. Unfortunately, this was a complete disaster. When it arrived the sugar topping was chewy, instead of crunchy, and on entry with a spoon the toffee lid flipped up to uncover an unappetising pistachio soup. Further delving revealed that the creme at the bottom of the ramekin was more solid, but cold. We explained the problem to the waiter and he promptly apologised and brought out another one.
This one fared a little better as the caramelised crust was properly crunchy (though a bit thick) but once again there seemed to be a problem with the creme melting at the top and being the right consistency but cold at the bottom. Flavour-wise it was fine, but both times I’d have to say that it was a poorly executed crème brûlée. Having never ventured to make a crème brûlée myself I can’t say what the problem was, but I’m guessing that the kitchen was rushing too fast to caramelise a just-pulled-out-of-the-fridge creme.
Nevertheless, overall I’ve decided to give Cafe Vue at Heide a HOT. Some of the food was really impressive and I trust that Mr Bennett cares enough about his brand and his business to ensure that the other wrinkles are ironed out.