It was Fedja’s 28th birthday, to celebrate the special day I reserved a table with Vue De Monde (VDM) simply because we both shared the same passion for food and experiences. I tried to book this restaurant previously but often it was booked out. So for this occasion I decided to book well in advance (3 weeks prior) for dinner to avoid disappointments.
Vue de Monde is a modern Australian with a bit of French influence fine dining restaurant owned by the talented Author, Chef Shannon Bennett. The venue was located on the 55th floor of the Rialto tower on Collins street, as we entered the building we saw a cafe on the ground floor (and thought it was the actual restaurant *face palm*), when we advised a passer-by we were there for Vue de Monde he helped guided us around the corner to the concierge, who confirmed our booking and escorted us to the private elevator. The lift accelerated so fast it made my stomach turn as if I was at a theme park on a high adrenaline ride. The transporter stopped at level 54 and we had to be guided into another lift to take us level 55.
The lift doors opened like a portal to distant realm. We were greeted by the dimmed wine cellar hallway displaying an extensive variety of exotic alcoholic glass bottles. Yes! I was cloud 9 or shall I say cloud 55, I was over stimulated but maintained a poker face as we walked through to the dining area, mesmerized in the rustic Bush tuckered Australian themed space, for a minute I had completely forgotten I was in Melbourne CBD. My eyes were drawn to the orange L.E.D shaped vines on the matte black walls, dimmed Edison orbs hung from the roof looked like little stars and planets in the dark skies, the ambiance was quite modern and space age. Our table, made out of patches of kangaroo leather, big enough to sit 6 people were dedicated to just the two of us.
Scattered on our table were river stones that cleverly double as salt and pepper-shakers, butter serving vessels and cutlery holders. The Roo skin also made another appearance on our fluffy armchairs. As I placed my bag on the table the waitress quickly brought over a stool for my bag, (how was that for service!) Snacks arrived in bounty: hand cut chips with whipped onion cream, truffle marshmallow, Salt cured wallaby, fresh sucked oysters, smoked eel on white chocolate and caviar. (Click on image to zoom)
The waiter in black tie handed us the wine list, but with the novel so intense we opted for the Sommelier’s choice. In a charming French accent he recommended us the Frankland Estate Poison Hill 2011. The red wine had a crisp start but with a smooth sweetness to the back of the palate and after the first sip Fedja and I both agreed it was a good choice.
It was quite a theatrical site the way waitress rolled our cured wallaby (baby Kangaroo), cooked by rock salt with a pair of chopsticks. It tasted like beef carpaccio.
Our first course was presented to us like a delicate fine art. Simple, colorful and almost too pretty to be eaten. There were not many ingredients in this dish however it did not fail to intrigue our curious taste buds. In one bite I consumed the prawn’s head, creamy caviar sauce bursted onto my palate as the crispy prawn cracker like head dissolved in my mouth. The prawn was soft and smokey, again was consumed in a single bite.
Our next course was presented in a rather Heston Blumenthal-esque contraption, our chef called it a Conar. The device was actually made for brewing coffee, VDM transformed it into a vessel and made the most amazing Melbourne onion soup with it. In front of us was a bowl containing several textures of onion, Gruyère cheese foam, a Comte cheese tuille and a brioche crumb. After our onion soup base was filtered through the top layer of the Conar it was infused with fresh onions, herbs and aromatics. This sweet smelling compound was then poured into our bowls. This simple yet complicated dish was possibly one of the most outlandish soup I have slurped in my entire life.
I was still blown away by the onion soup food science concept when our waitress presented us with the next dish. Pan seared Barramundi fillet with cucumber, pineapple sage , nettle, young garlic and prawns. This seafood dish was light and refreshing, the young garlic gave the whole dish bit of a zing.
Next up was the Western Australian Marron with tarragon brown butter and pork floss. The waiter advised for a true experience to use our fingers to drag the Marron onto the soft butter and rip it apart with our teeth rather than using cutleries. This dish turned our formal dining into a lot of fun dining, it brought out and inner child in us, as Fedja and I were playing with our food as if we were children again.
Suddenly, Our Christolfe cutleries were removed from us. NOoOOoo! Was that it? it surely cannot be the end of our culinary adventure, way too short, we wanted more. Fedja and I started to recall and count how many dishes we had been through to ensure we had experienced ten.
As we ponder over whether not our dining journey had come to an end. Our waitress delivered us each a mortar and a pestle. She advised us to grind our fresh herbs and flowers while a male waiter poured liquid nitrogen to freeze the ingredients as I grind. I was then instructed to add the cucumber sorbet to the frozen power. This dish was designed to cleanse our gustatory cells in preparation for the next dish. Yay there were still more to come (thank goodness I wore a dress, Fedja had to sneakily loosen his belt buckle under the table)
Up next we had Pigeon with chestnut, amp and quince. The pigeon claws intimated us a little bit, however the juicy tender pigeon meat made up for it.
If the prawn cracker was fine art, then this plate would be the food masterpiece. Rich and fatty Blackmore wagyu seared at our table over a portable charcoal BBQ, paired with beetroot, salt bush and black truffle. This dish tapped all the right spots both taste and tummy wise.
We took a much needed break to enjoy the romantic 360 degrees panoramic view of Melbourne city lights.
Sorry I couldn’t wait for Fedja to take pictures of this, I started to dig into this 3 layers desert of Chocolate soufflé, chocolate mousse and crème anglaise as soon as it was presented. It was yummolicious!
White chocolate Pipi shells, see if you can pick the real shells apart from the actual desert.
Petit-fours Rum and bourbon jelly coins
Lamington and eucalyptus ice pops, again I apologize to have performed a taste test prior to taking the picture >.<
As our night came to an end we were handed a little bag containing brioche, muesli, tea, honey and everything you needed for breakfast the morning after. I thought it was cool to take a piece of VDM home and reminisce over breakfast the next day.
The verdict: At $200-$250 per head or $500 per head for premium matching wines, I wouldn’t recommend frequenting for lunch or dinners daily, weekly or monthly unless you have lots of spare change. I would highly recommend Vue De Monde for special occasions such as proposal dinner, birthdays and anniversaries for memories that would last you a lifetime. As their attention to details service here is second to none. Dining at VDM is more about the culinary, nostalgic experience rather than the food itself. It was a restaurant of great beauty, depth and inspiration. However if your loved ones prefers a hearty feed, don’t take them here as it will be a waste of time and money as most of the proportions served were bite size. Our experience had been a very pleasant one and we look forward to returning for an anniversary in the years to come.
***Did you know***
The total cost of setting and fitting out this restaurant was about $10 million Australian dollars?!
The Christofle Jardin d’Eden cutlery cost $4100 per 36 pieces set.
The twigs used to rest cutleries on were 10 years old grape vines sourced from Penfolds Grange vineyard
The bread used are made fresh in-house daily
The Echire butter served were imported by Shannon Bennett himself from France.