I grew up in a family that although celebrates birthdays, the celebrations never tend to be so lavish. They are usually small gatherings with the family or a few close friends for dinner at moderately priced restaurants. Sometimes it’s just a simple meal at home.
That was until my 30ths birthday in November last year. For some reason, I scored myself not just a meal at Vue de Monde but also a trip to Tetsuyas in Sydney. That’s two of the best fine dining restaurants in Australia. Talk about excessive but I’m obviously not complaining.
Both of these restaurants have waiting lists the length of the Great Wall and I never expected to get a table at 1-2 weeks notice. Vue de Monde originally didn’t have availability but someone conveniently cancelled the day before.
There’s not many people in Melbourne who haven’t heard of Shannon Bennett’s famous restaurant Vue de Monde.
A meal here isn’t the cheapest. At OVER $200 for a degustation meal per person ($220 each for us at $20 extra for one dish), you’d expect a lot. Luckily, Vue de Monde totally lived up to those expectations.
As soon as we entered the building, I could feel the exclusivity of the place. Located in the front lobby is Vue de Monde’s concierge who took us to the elevator and swiped us up. Fact is, Vue de Monde is located on the 55th floor of the Rialto but the floor number in the lift only goes up to 50! Being a Sunday as well there was absolutely no one around apart from the 2 of us and 2 other Vue de Monde customers going up that elevator.
The vibe of the restaurant was astounding. From the entrance we had to go past the bar first and from there was stunning decor and a huge selection of spirits on the counter. I wouldn’t mind a few drinks here after work and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
All the tables were pre-prepared with driftwood looking decorations and what seemed like stones. I quickly realised they weren’t decorations at all but actually plates, knife holders and so forth. How innovative.
The waitstaff were fantastic. They explained each dish with all the small details and were very friendly throughout but not obtrusive. Dishes were cleared and the next one brought up very promptly. During the wait in between (which isn’t long at all) we had the fortune of gawking at the food prep team at the open kitchen in the middle of the room putting together intricate dishes with tweezers and piping bags. It was all very fascinating. I didn’t get much time to enjoy my surroundings though as I frantically took photos and wrote notes about each dish. There were just so many to get through!
This was the one time that Yuye didn’t mind me taking photos since he got to eat his own dishes first.
We chose the degustation menu with 10 courses (as most people do here) which ranges between $200 – $250 but there was also an a la carte option at 4 courses for $150pp.
The first course was a set of appetisers presented in the most intricate way. They were almost little courses in themselves. The first appetiser was crisp potato chips with a creamy macadamia and apple dip. It’s not often you eat savoury chips with a sweet dip or topping but this was quite a great combination both flavour wise and texturally.
Next was an appetiser drink but unfortunately as I lost the note I wrote on the day, I can’t quite remember what it was. I believe it was an iced tea of some sort.
The next appetiser was an oyster remoulade in a clear apple jelly. It was quite an interesting dish texturally and loved the flavour combination as well.
My favourite appetiser has to be this truffled marshmallow with ciabatta and sea salt on top. It was so creamy and the savoury with sweet flavour goes so well together yet again. The marshmallow was one of the most soft and fluffy ones I’ve had.
Next up was the salt cured wallaby. The presentation was superb with a waitress bringing out the wallaby on top of a Himalayan salt slab and rolling it in front of our eyes.
Wallaby is quite lean, but cured and served in this way keeps the flesh very tender and so tasty.
The last appetiser was the smoked eel, white chocolate and caviar. The slightly hardened white chocolate coating along with the sweetness mixed perfected with lightly smoked eel. Vue de Monde really seems to like matching savoury with salty flavours judging from all the appetisers and they definitely do it well.
After the appetisers, we were served with a marron, sweet bread and lamb floss dish. Marron is a close relative of the crayfish. This dish was our favourite of the day for sure. The marron tail was so tender and juicy while retaining all of its natural sweetness. The sweet bread and lamb floss sauce was creamy and umami, it went perfectly with the marron. This dish made Yuye crave lobster tails for a long time.
The next dish was marron coral which was essentially very flavourful (what I assume was marron brains) gravy on a plate for us to dip bread in. The bread was served in a bread bag and was promptly topped up. This was a very interesting and delicious dish. It was quite strong in flavour and a bit oily but the bread soaked it all up so beautifully.
My second favourite dish of the day and by far the most expensive was this 63 degree duck egg yolk with $60 worth of Hungarian white truffle shavings on top. When the waitress brought up the white truffle I just couldn’t resist. I know I said truffles aren’t really worth the money here, but this was white truffles, not black.
White truffles are all naturally harvested and are only available in very few places. What this means is that they are not farmed and are a lot rarer than black truffles. This also makes white truffles a LOT more expensive. I did enjoy the smell and taste of white truffles a lot more and found it to be a lot stronger than black truffles. So I guess in a sense it was worth the price and at the very least to try once in my lifetime.
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I absolutely LOVE eggs and especially the runny yolk. So this dish really put a smile on my face. It was perfectly silky smooth and so very eggy. The thin pieces of sweet pear ties together all the flavours on the dish while adding another textural element. It wasn’t a very substantial dish obviously as there was literally just one egg yolk. I think it needed a little more bread or something else to soak up the yolk as it was a tiny bit hard to pick up.
At this point, it was time for a palate cleanser. We were served with a cucumber and pineapple sorbet with edible flowers and sorrel. I originally thought we were eating the flowers and sorrel as is but out came a waiter with a jug of liquid nitrogen in his hand and started pouring it into our bowls. We then had to smash it all up with a pestle. They were so crispy and broke very easily. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
I must say though, this dish was more visually effective than it is in taste. I would have liked to eat the sorrel and edible flowers before it was frozen as in its frozen state, they really just tasted like dried herbs. a lot of dried herbs doesn’t exactly have a great effect on my tongue.
The next dish was the sous vide barramundi with barramundi foam and spinach puree. Being sous vide of course means the fish was cooked to a perfect temperature and therefore was perfect in texture. It was so tender and juicy it literally melted in my mouth. It was a very light and delicious dish. I’m not the biggest fan of foam though as it doesn’t really add much value to a dish apart from it looking nice I guess.
I loved the next dish and is probably one of the most time consuming dishes to cook and that’s the Blackmore wagyu tenderloin with wagyu beef cheeks. onion jus and mustard greens. It might not seem like such much on the plate but the little pieces of delicate meat gave a burst of flavour in every bite. They were tender and beautifully cooked (being wagyu made it even juicier) while the onion jus apparently took 24 hours to cook down and used a massive amount of onions to get a tiny little bit of jus.
Of course, the beef tenderloins were lightly grilled right on our table to add that interactive and fun factor which I love Vue De Monde for so much.
The next dish – asparagus salad with blueberries and wasabi snow – was again a palate cleansing cold dish. I liked the mellow taste and the cold ‘snow’ texture which made the dish very refreshing. The wasabi was faint and tied in well with the veggies. The dried blueberry added little bursts of sweet fruit which added a bit more flavour.
The last dish was meant to be the final dish of the day but Yuye and I felt like we could tackle one more so they prepared the following lamb dish (I think it was lamb anyway) with a sunflower seed crisp and pear. It was a well rounded dish but nothing spectacular compared to the beef dish earlier.
Before dessert we were served yet another palate cleanser, this time being this cute kale, celery and coconut drink. The celery wasn’t overpowering as it can be sometimes. I actually quite liked the flavour combination here.
To end the meal we were served with some fantastic dessert dishes. The main dessert was the Tonka bean souffle and smoked chocolate ice cream. Again it was theatrical. The hot melted chocolate was poured on top of the souffle until a little hole appeared in the middle and then the chocolate ice cream was plonked right in it.
Just like the souffle at Vue de Monde’s sibling restaurant Bistro Vue, the souffles here are egg white based. It was light and fluffy and sweet but I did find it a bit big and overwhelming towards the end. I like my desserts a little less heavy (even though it’s egg white) but of course still quite a beautiful dish.
I really loved the petit fours served here. I loved the creativity, presentation and how they all tasted. The first petit four was a eucalyptus ice cream in the form of cute balls stuck on branches. The minty ice cream was so refreshing and was beautifully presented that it got us giggling like little kids when we ate it and realised what it was.
The second petit four was an Angostura bitters jelly in the form of ‘pennies’. We couldn’t really tell what they were until we took a bite just like the eucalyptus ice cream balls so it was really like opening a treasure chest when we ate these.
As it was for my birthday, my little birthday surprise on the plate made me grin very widely. My plate looked better than Yuye’s! 😀 It was served with a chocolate mousse and raspberry puree which was gooey and not overly sweet.
The last petit four was the white chocolate seashells with olive oil and sea salt. When the plate was brought up I thought to myself “Gosh, they sure made those seashells very realistic and my what quantity we’re eating!”. I had mistakenly thought the whole plate of seashells were edible!
Of course only 2 of them were which were faced up to hold the olive oil and sea salt. I loved the creativity of this dish and it was such gorgeous presentation.
We paired the desserts with a latte and tea. The latte wasn’t all that special but not bad either. It was strong, creamy and smooth like a latte should be. It did however cost me $10 I think.
The tea ($15) on the other side was quite something. Vue de Monde has a tea sommelier who looked after our tea needs. We chose this Ancient Black tea from their extensive list of teas on offer and the tea sommelier brought on a tea timer to brew the tea to the perfect time and temperature. It was quite a nice soothing experience.
We originally thought about having a wine pairing with the meal but as it was only lunch time, we didn’t want to go out being tipsy. Yuye decided to order cocktails from Lui Bar instead. He ordered 3 cocktails in total, the first being this clover club ($23). It’s made with gin and Grenadine and egg white to give that foamy head. It was a sweet and fruity drink which I liked as well.
The second cocktail was the macadamia martini ($24). It was a very strong drink so I didn’t like it as much. This cocktail was made with macadamia nuts, sugar cane reduction and vermouth using a process that I couldn’t quite understand. It sounded very technical and seemed like hard work.
The last cocktail was quite fun to watch and delicious to drink. It was the sous vide shrub ($22). The ‘shrub’ was made by sealing and slow cooking seasonal fruit (in this case strawberries) with herbs and topped with a lot of booze. It’s apparently a great way to preserve fruit back in the old days. This was probably my favourite cocktail that day.
We had such an amazing experience and this really makes me think that restaurants like Vue de Monde might be expensive but are so worth going to at least once. The creativity, the energy, the flavour combinations were all spectacular. I particularly loved how almost every single dish had some sort of interaction with the diner which really enhances the overall experience. After dining at other 3 hatted restaurants, I think Vue de Monde does this the best.
I had a fantastic birthday lunch here thanks to the Vue De Monde team. I will be back for another special occasion some time.
The below picture was hanging in the lobby and I absolutely fell in love with it. 😀
Vue de Monde
Phone: (03) 9691 3888
Level 55 Rialto Towers Melbourne, VIC