Very High Society – Vue De Monde Review
Restaurant: Vue de Monde
Location: 55, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic.
Chef: Shannon Bennett
Hats: 3 (2015)
“Opulent” is the word that comes to mind when you step out of the lift and enter Vue de Monde’s high flying establishment and when drinking in the amazing view. “Where is this place” were the words immediately prior to that as we wandered around outside what can only be described as a construction site at ground level of the Realto building which is currently undergoing a ‘makeover’ :P. Interestingly, this stark contrast actually emphasises just how opulent Vue De Monde truly is – only in Melbourne. This is a special occasion for Mookie and I and she has worked one of her booking miracles to get us a table.
We are escorted from the Lui bar through the superb cellar (which distracted me to the point of stopping to admire the selection) and on into the restaurant proper. Wafts of smokey deliciousness accost us. A table to the right is just being served a smoking brand (more about this later). What a way to start an exercise in dining – tantalised by glimpses of enological rarities and then immersed in olfactory succor. My tastebuds are working overtime and we have yet to sit down – what is that covering the table? A hide. I find it a little odd but Mookie loves the kangaroo leather topped table and its odd textural effect. The sommelier approaches; beards are so the in thing. I smile as I think to myself, “I know the restaurant is trying to recreate a feeling of Melbourne’s glory years but having Ned Kelly serve the wines is taking things a little far eh?”. Scratch that thought, it is Movember after all! For now, I’ll just call him Ned.
“Ned” politely informs us that there are three different wine pairing selections available with the degustation – basic, premium or prestige. Mookie selects the prestige wine pairing cos that’s just how she rolls. I select a half bottle of Chablis (Fevre, Les Clos, 2012). The degustation arrives with no hesitation; two little quails eggs (Burnham Beeches) arrive dusted in a green concoction of powdered wheatgrass and sitting in a nest of straw, all dainty and delectable. Then some wafer crisp with Jerusalem artichoke. An oyster arrives – fresh creamy and salty. Its works so well with the creamy citrus and flint of the Chablis. Heaven.
The first of Mookie’s wine matches arrives and Ned explains that this is a more austere Riesling from the Clare Valley (Jim Barry ‘Florista’, Clare Valley, 2007). It has a floral nose of orange blossom with some brioche. The acidy citrus yet sweet flavours parallel very well with the sweet king green prawn, and tart green strawberry and fennel which has just been served. Raw prawn seems to becoming a thing, this will be the 3rd time I have eaten it in as many weeks. I must admit to quite liking it with the green strawberries – almost a ceviche like combination. The nasturtium adds a lovely pepperiness.
The plates are cleared swiftly once its evident that we have finished and Ned arrives with a Sauvignon Blanc (Didier Daguenau Blanc Fumee de Pouilly, Loire Valley, 2010). Made after the great man’s death by his equally talented son, this is purported to be the best SB in the world. I am beginning to think I should have ordered the prestige wine match. A waitress approaches with a smoking grill with white asparagus on top.
The aroma wafting from the grill is making me taste buds work overtime. The waitress picks each piece of white asparagus and places it onto a plate that has just arrived. The idea being to push the asparagus through the mixture on the plate and then enjoy. It tastes delicious, and I find myself cleaning the remaining mixture with a spoon after the asparagus is gone. The truffle and garlic flowers really add to the dish complementing the smokey flavouring of the white asparagus.
Next we are presented with a counterpart green asparagus (lightly steamed) dish with mustard foam and pickled walnuts. Again the idea is to use the asparagus to dip into the foam.
The plates are cleared and Ned returns with a bottle of Champagne (Louis Roederer Cristal, Reims, 2007) and Mookie beams (see this review for why). Served to accompany Flinders Island squid, broad bean and parsley. The broth has a hint of saltiness, the nasturtium flower adds a hint of pepper and the greens add some nutty sweetness. The squid is sweet and very tender and the broad beans work very well to round out the dish. I enjoy pairing the Chablis with the dish and Mookie enjoys her bubbles.
We are gazing out over the cityscape when a lady arrives with an old fashioned butter churn. She explains that the kitchen churns its own butter and cultures it which allows for a slightly cheesy flavour. The bread is also baked by the kitchen. A roll of butter is left at the table and we enjoy a pause in the dishes whilst we partake of a humble loaf.
Shortly Ned returns and pours a glass of Riesling (Schloss Gobelsburg Steinsetz, Kamptal, 2013) which has a hint of white pepper and white flowers. It also has some acidity and is slightly salty in aftertaste. It is paired with marron, peas and pork. With the marron it works well. Mookie is not so sure about it suiting the peas and pork (which are still lovely). I find that the sauce somewhat overpowers the marron which is a shame.
I review the wine list again as we are coming into the stronger tasting dishes and request a half bottle of Bordeaux (Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac Leognan, 2006) which I request be decanted. A bowl arrives with some herbs lemon myrtle and wood sorrel. We are provisioned with a pestle and, after some liquid nitrogen is poured over the dish, requested to grind the ingredient to a rough powder to which is then added a lemon sorbet to form a palette cleanser. Its a surprise, fun and tastes very pleasant.
Having cleansed our palates we welcome the return of Ned to offer Mookie the next pairing which is a sake (Moriki ‘Suppin Rumiko no Sake’, Iga, 2015) interesting in that is made by an award winning female sake master brewer who is also the owner of the brewery. It smells a little like a loaf of rice bran bread and taste a little like pear according to Mookie who has a better appreciation of smells and flavours than I do. The matched dish arrives, Cobia with spring onions, coriander and jasmine.
It has a delicate flavour and the fish is soft and tender. The jasmine provides a lovely addition to the light salty sweet fish and sweet spring onion. The subtlety of the flavours works very well with the sake (of which I have stolen a sip). I move to the red after the fish. Savouring my first sip just as a smoking bowl of coals (with Japanese oak) arrives. Kangaroo appears and is quickly seared on one side only, which leaves it tender yet warm, the oak adding seasoning. It is then moved to a plate and the bowl and brand removed. The table is swimming in the aroma of the burning brand and seared meat as we look down to our plates at what is probably the dish of the night for me.
The kangaroo has a gamey flavour and the beetroot and rye crumble work so incredibly well with it. I love this dish, kangaroo has never tasted so good and its nice to find it in such a glamorous and decadant environment. Would that more chefs would cook with the healthy and environmentally conscious meat. Mookie’s red wine (Pierre Gaillard ‘Clos de Cuminaille’, Saint Joseph, Rhone Valley, 2013) adds blackberry and stone to the mix which works fabulously. A little crisp (beef tendon) arrives on a bed of wheatgrass. It’s just a crunchy diversion though I do like the look of the wheatgrass.
Ned returns to provide Mookie a glass of Yarra red (Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine #1, Yarra Valley, 2008) which is complimenting the David Blackmore Wagyu with grass and grains. The wagyu rump cap is lovely but I really must wonder whether rump cap tops sirloin. The grains are really really good and the dish over all is very appetising. The “grass” is definitely needed to offset the richness of the meat and grains.
Some stones arrive next to the table. A playful concept that we have encountered before in San Sebastian at Mugaritz (see the review). Some of the stones are edible (hint: don’t reach for the biggest) and have a creamy texture. Its more play before the dessert courses.
Ned returns to serve Mookie a Sauterne (Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes, 1975) which opens my eyes as its not often you are served a 40 year sweet wine as part of a wine match. Honey and apricot. We are pondering the taste when what looks like a doused camp fire (black charred coals) arrives to the table. This is more fun as we must choose the charcoal that is edible. Again something we have encountered before in Singapore at Restaurant Andre. Being wise to the game we pick our edible charcoal up and place it on our plate.
Its slightly sweet and almost brioche like. Looks very cool though. Our dessert arrives – praline and citrus. A new sommelier pours (Ned has gone awol) a glass of tawny port (Quinta do Nova ‘Silval’, Duoro, 1997). The dessert is very sweet, and the port a fine accompaniment. It’s a little too sweet for my taste but Mookie looks like she is really enjoying it.
We move to cheeses which are presented on a trolley and a small slice of which ever you might select is provided. A cider is provided (Eric Bordelet Poire Granit, Normandy, 2013) as the final match. Apparently quite a good match at that too.
To close out the meal we are presented with lovely petite fours and of course the bill. Ouch, that prestige wine match was certainly not cheap. Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed the decadence of the evening and some great integration of luxury, oenological excellence and native Australian ingredients.
It is often the little things that make a good experience, great. That little bit of polish that makes a restaurant memorable. Vue de Monde has two special and attentive extras that make it stand out. Firstly, you dine with the most stunning and ornate cutlery (see the photos). It is a striking addition to the leather-covered tables and creative dining experience. Secondly, upon departure (after a very long night mind you), Mookie was handed a Vue de Monde breakfast package (see above). All hand made at the restaurant including brioche and muesli which were delicious with tea the next morning. That is what can give a restaurant longevity – its talk-ability, blog-ability and a simple ‘surprise and delight’ that makes you want to dine there again.