In an edition in which the food of the French masters dominates the front section of the magazine, it’s reasonable to go nostalgic and remember a dish that was a significant part of my time at the restaurant Bistro 1, set up in the mid-’90s in Melbourne’s Little Collins Street as a replica of a classic French eating house.
Bistro 1 followed Italy 1, in George Parade (now a menswear shop!) and another version of the Italy model, still going strong in Camberwell. This was our “let’s set up a chain” period.
My business partner at the time, the late Rick Davis, was a genius of interpretive interior design. He was never a copier, but what he was able to do was to draw the spirit of a design or colour idea—or many ideas—and incorporate those foundations into a new beginning. I have not met too many like him, and he was taken from us too early. There are many times since he died (in 2007) that I think to myself, “What would Rick do here?”
Bistro 1 was a cobwebbed, dusty shell of a restaurant when we first saw it. Rick’s transformation of the space to be like any back street bistro in Paris, Dijon, Lyon or Marseilles was a miracle. Unfortunately, when the old Southern Cross building was razed, Bistro 1 went with it, and all we have are photos taken by Blain Crellin to reinforce fading memories.
This cheesecake was a favorite of the restaurant’s clientele, and although it’s more a universal dish than a French one, we were happy to fudge a few edges of the menu to suit the universal palate.