Bianca: Despite all the burgers we had slotted in for our Melbourne trip we had also planned to dine at a few fine dining restaurants and the one that is at the top of most people’s list when in Melbourne, is Vue De Monde. Joined by mumma FFS our last few days in Melbourne, we dodged all the construction at Rialto Towers and ascended to the 55th floor. We were warmly greeted at the lifts by a waitress (walkie-talkie and everything) and then shown to Lui Bar with a beautiful vista overlooking the city.
With its ornate glass centrepiece adorning the bars roof, I could easily see myself sipping a few beverages and enjoying some of their famous Nutella doughnuts. Not to be this time, we were shown to our table through the restaurants cellar, each door sliding open to reveal a portion of the restaurant at a time. The interior is somewhat minimalistic and sombre with dark, earthy hues.
It’s easy to gloss over the restaurant as understated and fairly simple but once you truly start paying attention to all the small details you really do see how much thought and consideration has gone into each aspect within both design, functionality and lastly and perhaps most importantly, the food.
Whilst perusing the drinks menu, our friendly and exuberant waiter Duncan explained the menu and its format. We settled on the 8 course degustation at $230. Mum and Alex both decided to ‘partake’ in a Vodka pour over $22 a unique take on an espresso Martini with a similar taste to that of a sweet cognac. I went with a mock tail consisting of fresh pineapple and coconut cream $10 which encapsulated summer in a glass.
The meal began with a few ‘snacks’. A Truffle Marshmallow for Alex and myself as we had expressed our aversion to oysters. Enveloped in a mouthful, the marshmallow was soft with an interesting after-taste.
Mum being a fan of Oysters was brought the Rusty Wire Oyster, she noted that it was of the highest quality but in terms of flavours and memorability it trailed behind.
An ode to the famous and popular Aussie staple the Chiko Roll. Their take on the iconic snack was packed full of mixed vegetables and varying textures.
The Hawkesbury River School Prawns were crispy little morsels that were eaten whole alongside a fennel crème fraiche. Seasoning was bold with a mix of herbs and spices but one of these was more than enough for me as I found it way too fishy.
One that I thought would challenge Alex and Mum’s tastebuds was the Flinders Island Wallaby. The single thinly sliced rump was ‘melt in your mouth tender’ and there was no strong off-putting flavouring which I was expecting from the gamey meat.
The next dish was a surprising highlight, the Mark Eather yellowfin tuna, watermelon, tomato and bonito was refreshingly light and delicate. The sweetness of the watermelon and the kingfish providing a beautiful interplay and worked wonderfully to cut through the richness of the cream cheese encased within the yellowfin tuna. One thing we noticed as it was placed before us was the smell wafting up from the dish hitting us bam in the kisser. Also, I don’t know what was going on with the tomato in this dish but it was probably one of the most memorable tomatoes I’ve eaten. Who honestly can recall tomatoes in a dish??!!
We were now steam rolling through small dishes and the palate was truly singing, what came next was probably universally the most favoured dish that day. Sweet corn, fermented black truffle and black garlic. Many would balk if you were to describe a single baby corn as hearty and meaty but that is exactly how I would describe this dish. Served alongside marron oil, this was a stand-out and memorable few bites of art.
I had been wondering when some carbohydrates where going to make an appearance, namely the ‘bread course’. No-one ever comes between me and my bread and butter. A large hunk of bread sat within a kangaroo leather pouch alongside a hot stone rock and served with butter rolled directly in front of us. The butter had been described to us as having the intense flavourings of a Brie or Camembert. The bread was studded with fennel seeds providing an ani-seedy flavour and one that I don’t particularly care for. But it would be unlike Vue De Monde to provide just any ol bread and butter… I’ll allow it.
Interactive dining is something that you don’t come across too often but we were delighted with their take on the quintessential Aussie snag on a barbie. The Marron snag, cherry mustard and onions. Served on a sizzling hotplate, with accompanying sauce and a pre-cut brioche roll. The ‘snag’ was bountifully filled with the sweet marron and smeared with the slightly tart cherry mustard was an almost flawless bite. And I was tasked with putting together everyone’s ‘sausage sizzle’.
Celebrating the marron in two different forms, the second being the Marron tail & Pork. This dish succeeded more because of the varying textures than the actual flavour. The tender Marron was lightly sweet which worked well against the intensely salty pork crumbs. This dish truly shone when you took a bite of the Marron alongside the pork and freeze-dried cherry crumbs. Tied all together with the coral and Marron butter.
Lending to more theatrics a palate cleanser before the ‘mains’. The Lemon myrtle & flowers was served in a mortar like bowl accompanied by a wooden pestle that was then used to grind a mix of flowers, after liquid nitrogen was dramatically poured over the dish. A refreshing and cleansing dish that had us excited for what was to come.
We took a slight dip with the next two dishes, the Lamb sweatbreads, wasabi and macadamia was challenging. Dividing the table and the first dish that I was unable to go beyond a bite. Simply pushing my plate over to mum. The sweetbreads had a creaminess to them but there was an after-taste that I just couldn’t get over. Even the macadamia had an element of grittiness I did not find enjoyable.
David Blackmore wagyu brisket, plums and mustard sounds like a winner on paper but this fell short. Perhaps I went in with pre-conceived notions of what I think a brisket should be. This was almost akin to a corned beef, you really did need the condiments to make the dish a little more palatable. With the most interesting element on this dish being the plum and tendon crisp. I enjoyed the varying elements of plum but a misstep in my eyes.
And our finally savoury and perhaps the best of the day. The Duck, with mushrooms, berries. A flawlessly cooked piece of duck breast with the best rendition of a crispy skin I’ve encountered, so often it becomes limp and chewy but right until the last bite it was perfectly crisp. The berries were a fantastic addition and the sweetness counteracted the truly ‘savoury’ duck. The mushrooms were unique and worked particularly well.
And now onto probably all of our favourite part of the meal, dessert. Not before cleansing the palate with a Peach Parfait/sorbet lolly an intensely concentrated peach flavour that really had us excited for the sweets that were to come.
Dessert for me usually has to have chocolate to feel truly satisfied but thinking back to our meal this dessert was my favourite. The Mango, Lime & Coconut was simple but a very effective dessert. With a lightly barbecued mango cheek, smatterings of coconut and the one element that really stood out for me, the sour bitter mango sorbet.
And lastly Vue De Mondes signature dessert, their famous Chocolate Soufflé, Valrhona chocolate, Vanilla crème anglaise snow. Upon our first bite we each turned to each other to comment on the egginess of the souffle, this was easily remedied by taking a bite of the souffle with the rich and unctuous chocolate sauce. The souffle was remarkably airy and light and balanced nicely against the intense dark chocolate.
It’s fairly easy to see why Vue De Monde is constantly mentioned in top restaurant lists around the world, there may have been hit and miss dishes but the meal alone wasn’t carried by just the food. In terms of dining experiences it was the best Ive encountered in Australia and the price point is beyond more than fair for the quality, portion and creativity of each dish. As well as attention paid to diningware, down to the gorgeous Cristofle cutlery. We left 4 hours after we entered the building with a small goody back ‘for the next morning’. Filled with a small loaf of bread, cereal, Madeleine’s and tea.
And here are our faces…
Vue de Monde you sure know how to put on a show!
Photos by Alex