On Sunday, Tim took me to Vue de Monde at the Rialto in Melbourne as a belated birthday treat. Vue de Monde (meaning "View of the World") is owned by Shannon Bennett, who has celebrity chef status in Australia.
Vue de Monde is on the 55th floor of the Rialto. After being greeted on the ground floor of the Rialto, you are shown into a lift to the restaurant, where you alight in the fancy bar area. The restaurant has stylish dark decor:
We are ushered to our table which, oh joy, is by the windows, with an incredible panoramic view overlooking the ports area of Melbourne:
We also have the bustling open kitchen behind us, which has been fitted with "green" energy devices.
For starters, we are served parsnip chips with macadamia puree:
These are a tasty introduction to what is to come. Next, we are served a number of snacks, including celeriac filo parcels and caramelised white chocolate coated eel (with a crisp candied snap to it):
and two oysters au naturel on a seaside themed plate, with salt cured wallaby filled with a herb emulsion (rolled on a hot rock at the table):
We choose to dine a la carte, and I am grateful, as I don't think I could possibly have eaten any more. The a la carte menu involves four courses: entree, main, cheese and jams, and dessert. We decided not to match wine, and instead started with a glass of house bubbly each, followed by a shiraz for me and a cab sav for Tim, and finishing off with a glass of dessert wine each (Riesling for me, a Punt Road something or other for Tim).
For entree, Tim ordered kangaroo, Jerusalem artichoke, brussels sprout, pear and smoked bone marrow:
As you can see, wood, twigs, stones and kangaroo hide are a recurring theme in both the furniture and the serving dishes.
I ordered the Greenvale farm pork, marron and wild herb cream (in this case, decorated with garlic flowers and genista flowers):
The pork was served as little fried patties of shredded meat, with pieces of marron on top and what appeared to be little cubes of pork fat. It was delicious - I especially loved the marron.
We were then served with two types of bread (one was leek and pumpkin) in a kangaroo hide pouch, with a quinelle of French butter:
A palate cleanser then magically appeared. This one comprised of microherbs over which liquid nitrogen was poured at the table:
After we ground the herbs with a mortar and pestle, a quinelle of cucumber sorbet was place on top:
The cucumber sorbet was very refreshing, and could easily pass as a dessert in its own right.
Next came the main - in Tim's case, Blackmore beef with nettles, potato (sliced, pureed and in crunchy cup form) with a beef cheek and tongue mixture hiding under the nettles:
I ordered Mark's Catch (being baby snapper on the day), leek, black cabbage, oyster emulsion and tarragon:
The fish was cooked to perfection - it flaked easily on the fork and was moist and flavoursome.
Next we were served the richest course of the day - cheese, bread and jams. The breads comprised beetroot bread, fruit bread and plain bread. The condiments sitting next to the breads were apple matchsticks, apple butter and quince butter (I think):
The jams were quince jelly, caramelised onion jam and fig jam:
For the cheeses, the waitress brought out a very impressive cheese cart, and we nominated what we would like. Tim chose camembert, and I just nominated soft cheeses. Our waitress suggested a selection of washed rind cheeses, so we went with that - from left to right, we have camembert (the least impressive for me), triple cream (soft as butter), a washed rind cheese from Alsace and another washed rind French cheese, where the rind had been washed in brandy:
The cheeses were arrayed from mildest to strongest. My favourite was the last cheese - I didn't find it strong at all, and it was "just right".
Next came another palate cleanser, this time in the form of "beer and nuts" - passionfruit and licorice beer:
with coconut icecream "nuts":
Finally, we moved on to dessert in my case, smoked truffle icecream and spiced bread:
The truffle part appeared to be chocolate truffles encasing vanilla icecream. The spiced bread comprised of gorgeous little rounds of gingerbread with what I believe to be a pear puree in the middle, topped with a tuile, then some ginger mousse, then another tuile and finally what may have been a candied grape.
Tim ordered mandarin, violet and vanilla:
This comprised vanilla snow, violet meringues, and two types of frozen mandarin, decorated with violet petals and served with a mandarin sauce.
Finally, we were given some stunning petit fours. First, we were each given fruit jelly "two up" pennies, painted with gold lustre dust, and served off a wooden paddle:
Next, there was an assortment of very Australian looking treats served in a tray bedecked with eucalyptus leaves:
From left to right, there were chocolate mousse cubes filled with raspberry jam and disguised to look like lamingtons; musk flavoured "eucalyptus" leaves; gumnuts made of eucalyptus icecream; and shards of tempered dark chocolate containing popping candy. These little petit fours were an absolute delight - they gave the meal a "wow" finish.
For four courses a la carte (including all the palate cleansers and snacks shown here), it costs $150 per head. This makes it occasion dining, but think of it as an experience with plenty of wow factor.
Here is Tim relaxing in his kangaroo hide chair after lunch:
The bathrooms are also quite an adventure. They are labelled "sheilas" and "blokes", and like the kitchen, they contain innovations designed to make for a "green" footprint - in this case, specially salinated water from a ceiling mounted, hand movement operated water tap, that is meant to do away with the need for soap (although soap is also provided in case the salinated water idea does not appeal), and Dyson blade hand dryers. Finding your way out of the bathroom is a bit of a challenge, as the back of the door blends into the walls.
The service at Vue de Monde is impeccable - I tried to take my photos quickly and surreptitiously, but I failed dismally as the friendly, professional staff seamlessly moved in and out with dishes - kind of like Mary Poppins, appearing from nowhere. They were also very helpful in explaining the dishes to us as they were served. There was no 'tude involved, despite it being high end dining - every one of the staff was absolutely lovely and courteous, and we were made to feel special. Afterwards, we were invited to stay and listen to jazz music in the bar - although we declined on this occasion in favour of going home to sleep it all off.
What else can I say - if you ever get the chance to go to Vue de Monde, grab it, as it is an amazing dining experience, and the best that I have ever encountered.
Vue de Monde
Level 55, Rialto
525 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9691 3888
525 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9691 3888