Melbourne Restaurant Reviews: The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Bistro Thierry

511 Malvern Road
Toorak VIC 3142
+61 3 9824 0888
http://www.bistrothierry.com/

It was a perfect autumn day when Marty and I trammed down Malvern Road to meet up with my friend, Matt, and his misses, Mel, for lunch with a French twist. The destination was French-born Thierry Cornevin’s Bistro Thierry, a stalwart in Melbourne’s French dining scene. Sitting comfortably on stylish Hawksburn village, Bistro Thierry has been dishing up reliable Parisian bistro fare for a number of years with class, minus pretentiousness. Its pretty black and white awnings and its crisp white linen tablecloths made it the type of bistro that one could easily find in Paris, with Emmanuelle Mimieux, the epitome of casual-chic, dining in it. Unfortunately, there were no pretty, young blondes dining at the restaurant that day but there were quite a lot of elderly locals tucking into their minute steaks as if it was something they did every Saturday afternoon.

We were here for the $35 express lunch. You know the deal, two courses, a glass of wine and tea or coffee after the plates have been cleared. At most restaurants, there is normally a choice of two or even three dishes for each course to select from but at Bistro Thierry? There were at least four dishes to choose from. While we all liked the extensive choices available, this made choosing our dishes more difficult. Ah, the paradox of choice. Now at this point, I’d normally include an obligatory shot of the restaurant’s interior. Unfortunately, the only shot I have of the neat-lined wine glasses at the bar and tables full of well-dressed elderly patrons have Mel and Marty’s faces in it and Marty would KILL me if I posted that photo up. Heh.

We were given a basket of fresh bread to start off with – I saw our loaf being cut up like Marie Antoinette’s head with the guillotine-like bread cutter by the bar. I want one of those, now! We were also given a lovely slab of French butter and two small vessels containing liquid. We weren’t told what the vessels held – and the waiter had already pissed off before we could – so we could only assume that the one containing the pale liquid had olive oil in it, and the one containing a dark red one was for the red wine vinegar. ‘Why the hell would they give us red wine vinegar, though?’ asked Matt. None of us knew, so we shrugged and left the jugs alone while we chomped on our bread slices.

A cute little bowl containing Dijon mustards, for the two of us who ordered steak haché.

Marty was the only person who had ordered an entrée. I would have normally ordered an entrée as well seeing as I’m not normally a dessert person but none of the entrée options took my fancy, so eh. Marty chose the French onion soup, which was served in a cute, little tureen-like bowl. Although it was tiny, it was unexpectedly very filling. This was not surprisingly as the soup had a lovely, rich texture and the lovely gruyere crouton, containing a wonderful amount of glorious carbs and fat in such a small space, also aided in making our tummies almost half-full. The soup itself was amazing – it was very flavoursome, with only the slightly hint of sweetness brought on by the soft, caramelised onions. Delicious.

As Marty finished the last dregs of his soup, we realised that we had not received our wines yet. Not only was this unusual for a restaurant that was supposedly of such calibre, but we noticed that diners who had arrived after us were happily sipping on their glasses of De Bortoli! We flagged down a waiter, and asked him why we hadn’t received our wines to which he simply looked at us, amused, and pointed to the two vessels on our table, ‘They’re here!’ he said with a slight chuckle before walking away. We all looked at each other, thinking ‘WTF?’ before I said, ‘Pfft, no, he’s just joking.’

Eventually, Mel and Marty started sniffing the contents of the vessels and after confirming that the liquids did, in fact, smell like alcohol, they said, ‘No, he’s right. This IS wine!’ Being the stubborn Taurean that I am, I refused to believe that those vessels contained our wines but when Matt started filling our glasses, I realised that the red liquid was NOT red wine vinegar but, in fact, my De Bortoli Cabernet Merlot.

Oops.

We were such rookies; I bet the kitchen had a laugh at our expense!

In the midst of bitching about wannabe rock star Vietnamese dudes, our mains arrived. Both Mel and Marty chose the steak haché, a grilled minced eye fillet ‘steak’ served with lemon and parsley butter. It also came with fries and a simple garden salad. The ‘steak,’ which was essentially a mound consisting of mince, tasted a lot like hamburgers according to Mel. Marty was more specific, and made comparisons to Rockpool’s wagyu burger, heh. The ‘steak’ was full of flavor thanks to the fat content, which meant that both Mel and Marty got full pretty quickly.

A year ago, I would have probably ordered the bœuf bourguignon or even the Yarra Valley feta cheese and spinach omelette because I was on a Paleo eating plan. These days, however, anything remotely grain-related (except cereal and Tip Top white bread) goes so I chose the hachis parmentier as did Matt. The menu described it as a ‘baked pie of minced beef and tomato’ which I interpreted as consisting of yummy, yummy, flaky pastry (the main reason why I chose it – I felt like a bit of gluten). Instead, it was topped with mashed potato and there was no signs of gluten. Wahhhh. Not that I was disappointed for long. The portion might have looked tiny, especially in comparison to Mel and Marty’s steak, but it certainly filled us up thanks to all the creamy potatoes. The filling was delicious – the gravy was made with beef stock, but it was also full of tomatoes which gave the filling a lovely dash of pleasant sourness. The chunks of gravy beef were tender and buttery, and the potato topping just divine. It was like a shepherd’s pie, only better.

Ah, now if only Pie Face pies tasted half as good as this…

We were so full and ready to leave… until we realised that Mel, Matt and I still had dessert to go. Oops. Matt ordered the tarte tatin, a warm apple and caramel tart with calvados-scented ice cream. I didn’t get to try any of it but I was assured that it tasted as delicious as it looked.

Meanwhile, the ladies ordered the crème brûlée. The general consensus around the table was that the crème brûlée was amazing. Indeed, the custard was flavoursome and silky, with a slight coarse texture to it which I liked. I did, however, find the crust a bit TOO hard and struggled to break it cleanly with my spoon. A nice crème brûlée crust would easily give away with the slightest tap of a spoon but this one? Hell, I needed a machete to be able to break it easily. I’ve had better.

We all finished off with a coffee each. I had my usual latte, which was weak and insipid, probably thanks to the skim milk they used (slightly annoying seeing as I DIDN’T ask for a SKINNY latte) but it was included in the express lunch so I wasn’t too fazed. I thought the after-dinner mint was a nice touch, though, even though it had the same name of a certain horrible book and movie franchise.

We all had a wonderful time at Bistro Thierry. The food was fantastic, especially at that special price, and the service great despite a full dining room. I was actually worried about service standards after reading a few negative comments about the attitudes of the waiters on urbanspoon.com but I was relieved to find that we encountered none of that. Monsieur Thierry, in particular, was charming and lovely from the moment we stepped into the premises and after we had drained the last dregs of our coffees. We’d definitely be back.

Bistro Thierry on Urbanspoon

13 Comments on Bistro Thierry

  1. Catherine
    March 19, 2012 at 09:30 (2 years ago)

    I love Bistro Thierry! Last time the waiter agonised over the fact we didn’t order the tarte tatin so I must go back for that at least :)

    Reply
    • libishski
      March 20, 2012 at 21:08 (2 years ago)

      Yeah, I must go back for it too. It DID look awfully good!

      Reply
  2. Sophie Wang
    March 19, 2012 at 15:28 (2 years ago)

    Oh this place looks amazing. And the wine vessels are gorgeous (if a little confusing).

    As a side note, what make you come off the Paleo eating plan? I’ve been toying with it on-and-off but find it hard sticking to it seeing as I’m over at my boyfriend’s family’s place every weekend. Chinese food without rice doesn’t taste quite right!

    Reply
    • libishski
      March 20, 2012 at 21:15 (2 years ago)

      Hey Sophie,

      I started going on the eating plan (which is essentially my way of saying ‘diet’ as I hate that word – haha) after reading some literature that a colleague gave me re: grains. While I was not overweight, I still had heaps of belly hang back then that I would not have minded getting rid of, and I was feeling bloated all the time so I gave the eating plan a go.

      It took a while to get used to not eating grains (I love noodles, pasta and bread) but my body adjusted, and I ended up loving the whole new eating plan. I did stop after a while because 1) it was getting a little bit harder to come up with creative meals that didn’t consist of grains (it’s not impossible, but being the lazy time-poor effkhead that I am, I used that as an excuse) and more importantly, 2) I was losing way too much weight at such a fast rate. Of course, the latter could also be due to stress and exercise (I have been exercising regularly for the last four years or so) and illness more than anything but still. So yeah, I’m back on the grains but strangely, I don’t get bloated as much and it’s been hard for me to gain weight (which, to most, is a good thing!). That said, I don’t eat as many grains as I used to before I went on the paleo eating plan.

      So yeah, in conclusion, I did find that it did help but I guess I just love grains too much to give it up completely! I don’t regret going on the eating plan though as it helped me learn a lot about nutrition, taught me to be more creative in the kitchen and assisted in decreasing bloating in the long run. Give it a go and let me know how you go! :D

      Reply
      • Sophie Wang
        March 21, 2012 at 12:01 (2 years ago)

        Thank you for your reply! It’s always good to hear the experiences of a fellow food-blogger.

        I go grain free about two or three times a week, and so far it’s helped with weight control, bloating, and my skin. I’ll try and stick to it for a solid month and let you know how I go.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
  3. hotlyspiced
    March 19, 2012 at 21:53 (2 years ago)

    That restaurant looks amazing. What great French food. But I do agree, that is a strange way to serve the wine. I love steak with Paris butter though and the French onion soup looks very inviting. xx

    Reply
  4. Daisy@Nevertoosweet
    March 20, 2012 at 04:32 (2 years ago)

    I want that bread cutter too :) Did you manage to take a picture of it? This sounds and looks like a great place to have dinner and catch up with friends!

    I can’t believe your not usually a dessert person :P hahaha damn I was hoping that you were so I can drag you to go eat cake with me ~ It’s okay I like some savoury food too hehe but always need to order dessert OR you can have my entree and I have your dessert that works too hahaha

    That tarte tartin looks great and too bad the top of the creme brulee was so hard! they probably went a little overboard with the sugar :(

    Reply
    • libishski
      March 21, 2012 at 17:07 (2 years ago)

      Noo, I didn’t get a chance to take a pic of the bread-cutter :(

      Yeah, I don’t normally like desserts but if I see something on a dessert menu that sounds awesome, I’d give it a go. I do love fruit-based desserts and light stuff such as sorbets. Not a HUGE fan of ultra-rich desserts, unfortunately!

      Reply
      • Daisy@Nevertoosweet
        March 21, 2012 at 19:56 (2 years ago)

        Oh damn :p u don’t like things that I love the most hehe but it’s okay i’m sure we’ll find something else that we like and I like ALL desserts so fruit-based ones are good too hehe ~

        Reply
  5. DL
    March 20, 2012 at 20:15 (2 years ago)

    Bah! Oh well Simon’s Peking Duck made up for missing out.

    Reply
    • libishski
      March 20, 2012 at 21:09 (2 years ago)

      We get Touche Hombre on Thursday too. Double yay!

      Reply
  6. neeno
    March 22, 2012 at 20:06 (2 years ago)

    This is so unfair. I had instant prawn noodles with an egg for dinner tonight. Now drooling over your food pics. Wahhh!

    Reply

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