AS my friends and I walk into The Vale Bar and Grill, we instantly feel relaxed and at home. The waiters and bartenders warmly welcome us, and escort us to our high-top table in the lounge room. The employees at VBG all have that sophisticated, yet laid-back cool that makes you want to hang around longer and get to know them more.
I speak with restaurant manager Sean Royale, and he tells me about the new and improved menu. “The one from last year was too big and confusing, and it compromised the quality of food,” he explains. This is why Sean and VBG chef Luke Rogers teamed up to create a smaller menu, where every dish is made with attention to detail and with quality local and international produce.
I ask Sean to describe the food at VBG, and he uses the term modern Australian. “This general term gives us the freedom not to conform to any adhered guidelines. We want to take all the stereotypes of restaurants away and just provide really good food, wine and cocktails, with heaps of fun,” says Sean.
Sophie, our waitress, starts us off with several appetisers – a plate of cured salmon with horseradish cream, herb salad, lemon oil and grilled bread. This is followed by seared Hokkaido scallops with celeriac puree and porcini salt rubbed duck breast. The combination of colours in the presentation is impressive and eye pleasing. As we take turns sampling the dishes I notice an unusual silence hanging around our table. I look around to make sure everyone is alright, and catch all my friends with eyes closed, mouths full, and a look of sheer flavour delight on their faces.
Sophie clears our plates and prepares us for the mains. We start with crispy ocean trout with crushed Kita-Akari potatoes sauteed in shallots and garlic. After a few bites we can’t stop talking about how crispy and flavourful the skin of the salmon is and how soft and moist the middle of the filet has been kept.
Next, we try the wild mushroom risotto, and the flavor is so rich it blows your taste buds away. You can taste every ingredient, especially the truffle oil, and everything blends together perfectly.
Although each dish has impressed and satisfied us so far, it is the braised beef cheek bourguignon that takes centre stage. The aroma says it all when it arrives at the table, and we all dive in for our first bite with fierce enthusiasm. Think of your grandma’s best roast, and this tops it. You don’t even need a knife because it just falls apart at the tip of your fork. Luke explains how he needs to braise the meat for eight hours because it is from one of the toughest muscles of the cow. But this is also the reason why it is so flavourful. Not to be cheeky, but the VBG beef cheeks may be good enough to even convert a vegetarian.
When we agree that we can’t possibly eat anymore, the dessert arrives. A lemon and thyme panacotta with poached nashi pear slices and almond gateau, cinnamon churros with a bitter chocolate ganache dipping sauce, and a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich. Everyone finds enough room in their bellies to finish every last bite, and I even catch one of my friends licking the plate of the ice cream sandwich when he thinks I’m not looking.
This review is from http://www.powderlife.com/magazine/issue/41/restaurant-review/vale-bar-amp-grill.