Sunday, 18 May 2008

Restaurant Vue

Restaurant Vue is the in-house restaurant at the Boonah Valley Motel. We stayed here for a couple of nights recently, and thought we'd give the impressive looking restaurant a try for dinner.

It's a pretty enormous restaurant. There are seats inside, and also a big outside deck. It was a bit cool on the night, so the deck had been closed in with those clear plastic shutter things.

Anyway, we sat inside, where there was also a combustion fire going. The first thing we noticed on the menu was that cocktails were $8. $8 for a cocktail is a bargain in anyone's language, so we ordered a couple of those. They were a bit hit and miss, but at $8, who cares?

I was planning to leave room for dessert, so we ordered a bowl of the hand cut potato, sweet potato and eggplant chips with aioli ($6) for an entree. This turned out to be an absolutely enormous bowl of the various chips. The aioli was good, but we didn't get close to eating all the chips. This dish was great value at the price.

There is a compact wine list, including wines by the glass, at reasonable prices. I ordered a glass of pinot noir with my main course. I was amazed to find out it was served cold. I know some people like to slightly chill red wine in the warmer months, but it wasn't remotely warm weather, and this wine wasn't just chilled, it was cold. Of course the flavours of the pinot were completely masked by the temperature at which it was served. If restaurants are going to serve red wine cold, they should at least check with the customer first. I didn't order any more red wine after that glass. I should have stuck to the cocktails.

Next was main course. There were some interesting sounding mains, like tempura salmon in sea salt with purple wakame ($25), prawn, pumpkin, opal blue, salmon and black sesame tortellini ($17) and marinated char grilled lamb rump with Israeli cous cous, green olives, preserved lemon and eggplant ($25). There are a number of gluten free options, which are clearly marked on the menu.

The roasted duck breast on fig and mandarin salad with orange blossom and cinnamon water and warm chickpea falafel ($25) took my fancy. I don't see mandarin in many main courses, so I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately the dish wasn't as good as it sounded. Although the duck had been spiced with some lovely flavours, I found it overcooked and a bit tough. When it comes to duck breasts, I enjoy them when they are just cooked, still pink, juicy and tender. The fig and mandarin salad was ok - the figs in particular were a good match with the spiced duck. The falafel turned out to be a giant size and seemed to overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. It was also a really floury consistency once you broke into it. Overall, this dish just didn't work for me. I think a smaller portion of each of the accompaniments would have worked much better. With less mandarin and a much smaller, chunkier falafel, the flavours and textures would have been more balanced. A good idea, but not quite carried off on the plate.

Vue Restaurant has a separate vegetarian menu, which is always good to see. We ordered the halloumi with with falafel and fig & mandarin salad from the vegetarian menu. This was basically the same dish I had ordered, but with halloumi instead of the duck. The halloumi turned out to be a great match with the mandarin segments - the salty, squeaky texture of the cheese a perfect foil for the juicy, sweet mandarin. Again though the falafel was very powdery and overwhelmed the other ingredients due to its size.

We were both a bit disappointed with our mains, but decided to give dessert a run. We ordered the trio of house made ice cream tasting plate with sides of figs, rosewater Turkish delight and fresh berries ($8.50). Other desserts include pumpkin brioche bread and butter pudding with double cream and vanilla bean ice-cream ($8.50) and poached nectarines in amaretto with buttermilk puddings, fresh passionfruit and Italian meringue (also $8.50).

Our dessert turned out to be a winner. We had fresh figs at a few places in Boonah, and they were delicious every time. The ice cream flavours tonight were Midori, rosewater and mango. All of the ice creams were beautifully made, but the rosewater was the standout. A lovely delicate flavour, churned into an extra creamy ice cream - I could have eaten about 4 scoops of it. The Turkish delight was also good, its customary chewiness providing a good contrast of texture to the ice cream, figs and berries.

Other than the cold glass of pinot, service was excellent throughout our meal. There were only 2 waitresses for the entire restaurant, but they were both friendly and efficient, and no-one seemed to be waiting for meals.

The servings at Restaurant Vue are big, and prices are good. But our main courses didn't quite hit the mark. Maybe we just made bad choices for mains (after all we did almost have the same dish). It's certainly an ambitious menu.

Restaurant Vue is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was doing a good trade with the locals on the night we were there. Hopefully there will be more restaurants like this popping up in country towns all over Queensland.

What does all this mean? Big servings, good prices and an ambitious menu, but some dishes don't quite hit the mark.

food bling ratings
Food - Ok
Service - Good
Ambience - Modern, stylish interior and outside deck seating
Value for Money - Great
Wine - Compact selection
Vegetarian - Great
Gluten Free - Great

Restaurant Vue
Boonah Valley Motel
3908 Boonah-Ipswich Road
Boonah 4310
P - 07 5463 4738
W -

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