October 27, 2018 local produce, Melbourne No Comments

Vue de Monde

The second stop in my three consecutive high-class lunches, which started the day before at Maha, was at Vue de Monde, flagship restaurant of Shannon Bennett’s empire of bars and eateries.

It had been recommended to me via the book that the folks at Les Amis had gifted to me the week previous. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect beyond views across the city from the top of the Rialto Tower and a degustation menu.

I was offered a choice of seasonal or signature tasting menus and a couple of wine pairing options. I opted for the signature menu and the premium pairings which came to an eye-watering $525, but this encompassed everything with no hidden cheese or coffee supplements.

There was a warm welcome as I disembarked the elevator at the 55th floor. I was shown to a table with a view over to various parts of the city that weren’t altogether the most picturesque. The racetrack and some far off hills were about the most interesting items I could pick out.

I was apprised of the situation that 17 courses would arrive over the next two hours plus, with a range of matching wines from local and global producers.

This started with their take on chips and dip with crunchy barked-wrapped veg and an aubergine dip. This was a pleasant opening to proceedings.

We began the food parade in earnest with lamb tartare topped with cauliflower cous cous with a fermented mushroom broth. This was elegant and very accomplished.

It was then onwards to a two-part dish which opened with a clair de lune oyster then folllowed with kale-topped scallop and oyster. This was a fresh and simple showcasing of excellent local ingredients.

We were then transported to a seaside barbecue with an Aussie take on a lobster roll with a crab sausage, brioche bun, tarragon cream and kohlrabi slaw. As is often the way, the tarragon was on the verge of overpowering things but the excellently creamy kohlrabi brought things back towards an equilibrium.

There was another crab dish to follow with mudcrab topped with herb pesto and surrounded by a koji foam.

Next we had a local indigenous crayfish called marron served both as the tail and as a salad served in the head cavity. Jerusalem artichoke was the accompanying flavour in both case. This was quite a weak dish with the tail meat dense and I suspect overcooked.

The delicate circles of artichoke served as a scale topping to the head salad made much less sense than a similar look with oyster mushrooms and seabass at Les Amis.

We then moved on to a bread and butter course which showcased traditional Australian damper in two forms – as a traditional flatbread and as a vegemite glazed flaky twirl cooked on a stick – served with cultured butter. This was highly enjoyable stuff.

This came with an accompanying dish of smoked eel with potato curl casing, salmon roe and parsley oil. Again, it was very pleasing stuff.

We then moved to a highly theatrical palate cleanser of liquid nitrogen topped herbs and flowers that I was invited to grind down to a powder. This was then topped with a plum sorbet. It was an able livener of the tastebuds.

Next we had two meaty dishes. First up was suckling pig served in a sort of cabbage taco shell. This looked a little more interesting than it tasted. It was a solid dish but unspectacular.

Something similar can be said for the duck main course. The skin had a sticky, boiled sweet texture rathen than being entirely crisp. It topped enjoyably moist meat, though.

Next we took a rather routine detour on the cheese wagon. The accompanying crackers were very good, but epoisse aside the cheeses were rather ordinary.

We returned to the theatre with a flamed-at-table marshmallow which had a rather overly frozen brandy and chocolate centre. This didn’t quite work for me.

The centrepiece dessert was a double chocolate soufflé further augmented by a quenelle of coffee ice cream added at the table. This displayed much skill and was memorably good stuff.

There was a further dessert of fresh notes of macadamia, blood orange and white chocolate. This seemed much better suited as a pre-dessert. A final flourish of fresh booze-marinated fruit was a pleasing palate cleanser.

Throughout the parade of food, there was a similar jamboree of local and global wines. These were well considered with notably good Gruner Veltiner and Rioja.

So overall, Vue de Monde served me a very high-class lunch. Amongst quite the barrage of dishes there were outstandingly creative ideas. Not all of them came off entirely. I think the passion and flair is aimed at three-star level but much of the execution, particularly on the two curiously flat central meaty courses, was well below that level. It felt like in restaurant on the decline.

Pricing means that Vue de Monde is in the realms of a once in a very long while treat. As such, make sure to bring someone who is a fan of theatrical dining as the high production values of the extravaganza will likely delight, but the precision of dish delivery may not.

In a nice final touch, I went away with a goody bag of brioche, granola and their house tea blend to continue the experience at breakfast the next day. These were warmly enjoyed.

Blythe scores Vue de Monde
4/5 for food
4.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4.5/5 for service
giving an overall 17/20

I ate: signature degustation menu

I drank: paired wines

I wore: new blue striped jacket

Total bill: $525

Address: Rialto Building, Collins Street, Melbourne

Written by BKR