Bistro Guillaume is the latest restaurant from Guillaume Brahimi, of Guillaume of Bennelong fame. I saw Guillaume on Food Safari and thought he was really funny. The bit where he did the "huoh huoh huoh" French laugh was hilarious. As an aside, the Flight of the Conchords (my favourite TV show at the moment) mock this French laugh in their song Foux du Fafa. It's hilarious, watch it below.
I had the fortune to have another meal on the company's expense. This was my second meal in a week that my company had paid for. Before you go and think that I have the best job ever, these were my first two meals my company has ever paid for, they just happened to both fall on the same week. So I was given the edict to enjoy myself for my good work, so after reading Ed, Sarah and Jon's great review about Bistro Guillaume, it was an easy choice.
Despite booking two weeks in advance, I was only able to get a table at 6pm where we had to vacate by 8:30pm. That was ok with us, as my work mates with kids (and sick kittens) had to go home fairly early anyway. So on Saturday, Rick, Babs, John, Trung and myself got to Bistro Guillaume about 15 minutes late, due to some technical navigational difficulties and one near fatal accident (ok I exaggerate slightly but we did nearly get into a car accident).
When we stepped inside Bistro Guillaume, I just felt we were in France. I've never been to France, but the restaurant is what I imagine fine French restaurants to look like. It just felt opulent. I was in such a rush to get to the restaurant on time that I left my camera in the car, so there are no photos :-(. Refer to Ed and Sarah's post for some wonderful photos of the interior. I just loved the grandness of the beautifully decorated interior. Babs didn't like the skirt type light shades, but I loved them. The tables and chairs looked classy. And as Sarah pointed out, even the knives had this beautiful bee insignia.
I ordered a wine while we perused the menu. The waiter came back to inform me that the particular wine I chose was unavailable. He then made a suggestion for a wine in the same price range without me asking. Now that's taking some initiative. The same waiter also let us know of any specials of the day, which we did end up ordering.
For entrees, I asked if I could get the tapas from the bar. From all the items on the menu, I was actually most interested in the entrees. And after seeing Jon's tapas platter, I really wanted that. I was informed that I wasn't allowed to order from the bar menu. This really perplexed me, as you can order from the main menu from the bar, but not vice versa. Also, the bar menu was just a slightly extended entrees menu. The thought of Gordon Ramsay popped into my head. I remembered an episode where he was in this fancy restaurant that was separated into three distinct parts, and he wasn't allowed to order dishes from another part of the resturant and he said that was just stupid. Well I have to agree.
Anyway, I got over that slight disappointment quickly and had to pick one entree only. This was really hard as I wanted to try the Steak Tartare, Jamon and Terrine du Jour. In the end, I told rationalised (it's the engineer in me, having to think of all the pros and cons) that I could eat Steak Tartare and Jamon elsewhere, so went for the house made Terrine. Fortunately for me, John ordered the Tartare, which obviously I asked to try. Rick got the Scallops that Sarah suggested to me, and Trung and Babs got the Oysters served natural.
My Terrine was a fantastic dish. It was a rabbit terrine and the various textures and flavours in it was amazing. It was also served with pickles, a salad, pate and some grilled bread. It was an excellent dish and I could eaten two of it. The Steak Tartare was also brilliant. It was slightly spicy and still retained the beef flavour. Babs also generously offered me some oysters. They were very fresh and went down easily. Rick said he really liked the Scallops, and he rarely eats scallops.
For mains, I was going to order a Steak, but the waiter did such a good job explaining the specials that John, Trung and I all got the Lamb with Spinach, Relish and Gratin Dauphinois. The lamb was very tender and the occasional kick from the relish made it quite a good dish. However, I regretted not picking the steak as the lamb wasn't as good as I thought it would be and I think the steak would have been a better choice. Oh well, maybe next time. Babs got the Tuna with Ratatouille. The colours of the ratatouille was so vibrant and beautiful. And after watching the Disney cartoon Rataouille, I can appreciate how hard it is to make a good ratatouille. Babs really liked the tuna dish. However, the dish of the night had to be the "Fish and Chips". Even though I had seen photos of it, it still didn't stop me from going "ooooh that looks so good". The whole be-boned fried fish sitting on a bed of criss crossed chunky chips was just beautiful. We later asked the waitress about the fish, and she explained how the chefs skillfully remove the bones through a tiny slit, much like keyhole surgery. They certainly do a good job, Rick only found two tiny bones. He said the Whiting actually did taste wonderful as well.
Finally, we get to dessert. Jon had mentioned how he thought the dessert was overpriced. Sarah had said how disappointed she was with most of the desserts. We were tempted to skip it, but since we didn't have to pay, what the heck. So we ordered desserts. I did heed Sarah's advice and got the Lemon Tart, the only dessert that her dining group liked. Trung also got the Lemon Tart. John went for the Chocolate Souffle, Babs got the Mandarin Creme Brulee and Rick got the Seasonal Tart which was Strawberry tart.
Let's start with my Lemon Tart. It was good, and terrible at the same time, well not exactly the same time. The edge of the tart, about 1/3 of it, was really good. The texture of the tart was smooth and the it contained a very nice lemon flavour. However, the middle part of the tart, about 2/3 of it, was still undercooked. I could taste the raw egg flavour still and it was really bad. Babs Creme Brulee was more like a custard. It was so runny under the crust and contained no texture at all. It looked really wrong and terrible. She tasted a bit and said it was bad and didn't finish the rest. Rick's Strawberry tart was nice enough, but it was a fairly simple tart and very expensive. John like his Chocolate Souffle, and it was definitely presented well. I didn't try it so will have to take his word, although his sweetness threshold is a lot higher than mine. So Sarah's complaint that the souffle was too sweet is probably what I would think too.
Meals were finished with some very good coffees. The Cappucino were excellent, although they could have been a bit hotter.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is a restrained refinement. The noise is kept to a low drone. I think we might have been the loudest in the place, with our hearty laughs at funny stories we were talking about. I do like the atmosphere, as it's refined but not stuffy.
The service was very professional. We were reminded that the table was rebooked later in the night, but didn't really feel rushed. They made sure they presented things to us quickly to avoid any needless waiting in between courses. As an example, we were told the souffle would take a long time, and if we wanted that, we could order it a bit earlier.
Overall Rating: 15/20, Entrees are amazing and the restaurant interior is beautifully refined.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.