A ‘Vue’ of things to come.

Posted on July 1, 2011


Vue de Monde’s trial reopening at the Rialto showcased more than just a picturesque view of Melbourne. Shannon Bennet’s three stared restaurant has adopted a new philosophy of sustainability, naturalism and a more relaxed approach to dining. Booking months in advance, I had anticipated my return to, what I believe to be, the best fine dining restaurant in Melbourne. Mr M and I decided to grab an early drink at Vue de Monde’s new Lui bar. In true Vue de Monde style, we were greeted at the door treated to the silver service they have a reputation for. The view is phenomenal. Situated on the 55th floor of the Rialto building, the venue boasts 360 degree views of Melbourne, reaching as visibly far as the Macedon Ranges. The place is still being constructed, the night was a teaser for things to come. The construction was clearly visible, I was surprised at how much was still being constructed considering that they had reopened for business. I had been warned though. Therefore I cannot judge the restaurant based on the hanging cords and unfinished interior. Despite this, once finished this place is going to be amazing. The addition of Lui bar means diners can enjoy a drink with magnificent views. Sydney may have Quay but we have a view 55 floors high.

To be faithful to readers, there were hurdles to the service that night. We waited at the bar for forty-five minutes to be seated. I would not accept this anywhere else but the view was a distraction. After a frustrating wait, the administration manager who escorted us from the bottom of the Rialto to the restaurant, realised we had been sitting there and took all measures to accommodate us and sort out the situation. Not only were we escorted to the table immediately, we were given complimentary drinks and nibbles to compensate. The staff realised their mistake and acted accordingly.

We enjoyed our complimentary glass of Ruinert Rose champagne and admired the new table settings. The design and architecture are distinctly Melburnian. Every piece of cutlery and plating is vintage, from the kangaroo fur adorning the chairs, to the leather covering the tables. The table is decorated with rocks collected from Australia, which when uncovered hold butter, salt, fossils and designs. The lighting is very low, perhaps too low, but I’m sure it is still being constructed, and does add to the atmosphere. Mr M and I chose the degustation Gourmand, which is five or more courses, dessert and petite fours. The Amuse Bouche consisted of oyster and lemon, ocean trout and caviar, venison sandwich and pumpkin. The oyster with lemon was exquisite, perfectly balanced and dissolved in the mouth. I adored the ocean trout with caviar, bold flavours and smooth texture. The degustation was well executed and cohesive. Everything flowed perfectly. Starting with the most flavourful Spanner Crab, beetroot, broccoli puree and a lobster tail bisque. The flavour of lobster and crab exploded in my mouth, tantalising my tongue and staining my palate. Fresh and flavourful.

The hero dish was the ‘eggs on toast’ as the waiter jokingly coined. A fried duck egg, lamb sweet-breads, pickled onion and a generous shaving of truffle from New South Wales. It was a dish which brought back memories of breakfast’s cooked by my dad at home. A very natural flavour that made use of the great ingredients on hand. Another favourite was a dish showcasing David Blackmore’s Wagyu beef: chestnut, garlic foam, garlic chips and cherries.

It was hard to fault the savoury courses on the night, they were well prepared, tasty and fascinating. I found the blue fin tuna, wasabi foam, saltbush/herbs and caviar to be fresh and beautifully presented, however the wasabi was not dominant enough. The tuna matched well with the saltbush but it needed a stronger more dominant flavour. The standard at Vue de Monde is high, therefore every dish was well constructed and plated beautifully. The new cutlery and plates matched the natural/native aspects of the food perfectly.

I tend to be one of “those people” who get excited about the palate cleansers. In fine dining they are fascinating, clever and refreshing. A cucumber sorbet with nitrogen frozen herbs (crushed at the table with a pestle) and a pop rock candy lollypop with lemonade. I have a sweet tooth so I had high expectations for dessert. I am aware that souffle has been loved for decades, technical and traditional. Oddly, I don’t get excited about souffle. A couple of spoons is usually enough for me. The chocolate souffle with chocolate mousse and creme brulee was excellent. I guess I’m just a little over souffle.

The standout dessert was the ‘deconstructed lemon tart’: lemon meringue ice-cream, white chocolate, lemon curd and parsley. The parsley is a pleasant surprise, who knew it would lend itself to a lemon tart? It was modern and playful, similar to a dessert I have tried at Pierre Roulof’s dessert night at Cafe Rosamond. Just lovely.

The petite fours were fun and playful, traditional desserts with a twist. Lemon verbena, jam and cream lamington, mint pillow and Gaytime ice-cream. The jam and cream lamington “mousse” was outstanding. I would have happily eaten a large piece for dessert. The mint pillow on the other hand was not desirable. The waiter described the mint pillow as “tasting like a chunk of Colgate”. I don’t go to restaurants to brush my teeth.

The fun was not over, Shannon Bennet personally apologised for our troubled night and gave us a complimentary digestif; a South African red wine. Despite the wait, the staff were friendly and more relaxed than I remember. This behaviour matches well with their new philosophies and the natural interior only serves to highlight this approach. I was disappointed that I missed out on the complete reconstruction, however I had a first hand perspective of the amount of effort it takes to relocate and reopen a multi million dollar restaurant. I appreciate it all the more. I watched Mr Bennett gaze out at the view after the final service and could understand his anxieties. Resting on 55 floors on top of the Rialto, Vue de Monde will have to live up to rather high expectations. With food like we had on the night they will have no problem.

Level 55, Rialto

525 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: +61 3 9691 3888
E: vuedemonde@vuedemonde.com.au

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