Monday, September 5, 2011

Vue de Monde - Melbourne

I think I have just had the most epic lunch - EVER.
The lunch booking was for 2pm at Melbourne's 3-hat restaurant Vue de Monde. Luckily, our hotel was just next door at Intercontinental Rialto.

The funny thing about this restaurant is that it was epic from the beginning. Situated on Level 55 of the Rialto, the building's lift's highest level was 54 which meant that in order to get to the restaurant, the reception lady at the bottom had to buzz you up. After an ear-popping elevator ride, we step out to an amazing Melbournian view and a classy 'antique-ridden' bar.

As unfortunately, our table was not yet available, we chilled out at the bar for a while - enjoying the view. When our table was ready, we were professionally led to yet another amazing space with spectacular views. Without table cloths, the table was instead covered with dark, textured kangaroo hide which was stitched and tacked across the table top creating a soft ish smooth surface to lean on. What catches our eyes (view apart) was the pile of river pebbles and blackened logs in the centre. Each rock and log is used in some way when you order the degustation... but as we were not only a few of the rocks were used for us. The rocks were used as cutlery rests, salt and pepper holders, butter receptacles and the like. Very artful. Was fun to play with for giggly girls like me :)

We weren't given a menu for ages - but that didn't mean we didn't get food. First off to reach the table was hand cut potato chips with a creamy dip (onions, carrot, chives, sour cream... and maybe some other ingredients that we couldn't identify). My hubby was sold! Super crunchy crispy chips. YUM :)

hand cut chips with dip

Next out, 4 more amuse bouches came out. There was this jelly thing with some white thing inside. The white creamy paste was a mix of oysters and lemon. The gelatine layer added an interesting texture to the creaminess.

apple gelatine creamy thing

Another was a venison tartare sandwiched between thin sheets of crisp dried venison meat. The venison tartare was really tasty, smooth, creamy. A slight taste-hit. I like how it was cleverly presented on top of a rock :)

beef tartare in venison jerky

There was also a bite-sized piece of smoked eel. The top was crunchy and crispy and unexpected in fish. This was due to a sliver of clear, crisp white chocolate praline. On top of all this, there was a small pile of caviar. I never knew eel could taste so good - so flavoursome and so many textures in such a simple looking dish.

bite-sized cod

The orange thing was a little rod of raw pumpkin topped with tiny squirts of lemon yoghurt,toasted pumpkin seeds and shallot/chive(?). My hubby was flabbergasted by the handiwork. There was also a worm-like thing on the rock. This was a pickled vegetable... the waiter said it was artichoke... I'm not sure what it was but it was vinegary and crunchy.

pumpkin rods

After all the appetisers were done, the waiter waltzed over and informed us of the 2 food options - 'choice' or 'freedom'. 'Freedom' is their $250 10-course degustation. 'Choice' is their 4 course a la carte options ($150). Looking at the time, it was after 3pm already - and after 5 amuse bouches, I don't think my stomach could fit 10 courses. Hence, the a la carte we opted - only just (as my partner was almost swayed by the quality of the meals thus far). We get an entree, main, cheese, and dessert. As I'm not a cheese fan, I was allowed to go for 2 entrees instead! :)

My partner opted for the Melbourne club sandwich. This was no ordinary sandwich. Where's the bread? 3 super crisp crisp-bread sandwiched a layer of prosciutto and a layer of sardines with cucumber shreds scattered throughout and a nice dollop of aioli. Tasty. Fresh. Yum.

Melbourne club sandwich

I went for the prawn Russian salad. In my mind, a prawn salad looks like a pile of greens with some nice peeled cooked prawns on top. What I got, however, was a rectangle of translucent smashed prawns with bits of green, potato puree squirts, carrot cubes, wasabi mayo and caviar scattered throughout. O.M.G. I can't describe how I felt when I ate this. How can a prawn salad taste so good? Sweet and fresh and tasty and savoury and flavoursome and like, everything!!!

Russian prawn salad

My 'extra' entree (which I swapped a cheese plate for) was the Ox tongue salad with Gascony butter. Gascony butter is butter with a pinch of pepper for extra taste. The ox tongue was really soft and chewy and tasted amazing when with the butter. There was a massive array of radishes, greens, celeriac, tiny onion slices and edible flours everywhere. It was like eating a garden. A very tasty garden though.

Ox tongue salad

After our entrees, we got our bread. The butter came with the waiter scooping it from a big wooden bucket in front of your table. It was then placed on one of the "rocks".

butter using rock receptacle

The bread came in a leather pouch with heated rocks on the bottom. Yes - heated rocks - to keep the bread warm and soft.

bread with heated rocks

The palate cleanser was even more amazing than the previous creations we've seen. I love it because it allowed me to play :) It starts with a wooden pestle which you use to grind a mortar filled with fresh lemon balm, baby parsley shoots, wood sorrel, pineapple sage flowers and tiny lime grains... all of which was snap-frozened by the use of liquid nitrogen which was theatrically poured out in front of your eyes. Crushing the frozen leaves and flowers, you get a pile of crumbs on which a cool refreshing cucumber sorbet sits on top. This was ridiculously fun and quite a creative palate cleanser.

Palate cleanser

Out next was our mains. This was course 2 and the time was close to 4pm (and we had a plane to catch at 6.30pm). I had the wagyu beef. This was two super marbled pieces of wagyu with dried apricot cubes, Jerusalem artichoke, radish slices... all on top of a bed of smoked bone marrow. There was also a creamy foam sauce of some sort. This was melt-in-your mouth goodness. Oh yes - and there were the edible flowers ... again. So many textures. So many flavours. Zomigosh~

Wagyu beef

My hubby had the flathead with tarragon, swede and mustard. There was a crispy crumbed skin on top of a perfectly cooked slather of flathead. I don't know what they put on the skin but it was soooooo crispy and sooooo complementary to the soft textured fresh tasting fish. There were also some puffy squares which were quite interesting.


Next up was my hubby's cheese platter. The cheese was shipped around on a temperature controlled trolley which was completely glassed so you could see the cheese selection. The cheese is cut to order but from my observation, every time patrons were asked what kind of cheese they wanted, they all let the cheese dude decide. My hubby's 3 cheese were... 2 from Normandy, and one which came from a 40 kg wheel.... hahaha - that's as far as my cheese expertise went. My hubby said that one of them was a Camembert. The cheese came with two plates of pastes and apple shards.

Cheese platter

Another palate cleanser came next. There was a bubbling lemonade - crazily bubbling liquid nitrogened and very lemony in flavour. Delicious~ There were also "popping candy". An apple sorbet with a jelly thing that you dip into the "popping" mix (kind of like the cola popping candy we have as a kid). "pop" "crackle" "snap". Brings giggles to every table :)

bubbling lemonade and popping candy

Then came dessert. Hubby chose he mandarin "Weis bar". This was a rich and creamy milk and mandarin sorbet surrounded by fresh mandarin bits which have been poached briefly in sugar syrup and super awesome bed of crunchy dried mandarin. The flavour was soooo intense. I'm not a mandarin fan but if the mandarin flavour was swapped with mango or pineapple... man - this would have been dessert of the year~ Crazy!

Mandarin Weiss Bar

I opted for something chocolatey. The chocolate souffle was topped with chocolate mousse and vanilla crème anglaise . The souffle was really light and fluffy. One spoonful would simple just aerate and melt in your mouth. So light, yet chocolately enough.

Chocolate souffle

By now, it was 5pm. We had to dash. Told the waiter we were catching a 6.30pm flight back to Sydney - he was bemused "cutting it short aren't we?".

As we headed back down the 55 levels, we were met by another smiling reception lady who gave us a goodie bag "breakfast for tomorrow". ZOMG. Breakfast goodie bag to take away? A smile came on both our faces :) There was freshly baked sweet brioche, muesli, tea mix, and 2 yummy choc chip cookies. Awesome!

Breakfast goodie bag

With so many amuse bouches, palate cleansers and amazing dishes - the $150 is waaaayyy worth it! All waitstaff were nice, friendly and attentive - giving that relaxed yet sophisticated feel to the restaurant (and you've gotta see the bathroom!). Ambiance is amazing. There's like, nothing to criticise... So would I be back? most definitely yes! Oh - by the way, remember to book like 3 months in advance!

afternote - the restaurant host EMAILed us the menu of what we ate afterwards (unrequested). That's pretty damn impressive!

Food - 10/10 (hubby wanted to give 11/10)
Service - 9.5/10 (+0.5 for emailing us the menu after)
Ambiance - 10/10
Value for money - 10/10
Overall - 40/40

Vue de monde
Level 55 Rialto
525 Collins Street
Tel: (03) 9691 3888


Potato Princess said...

Wow Vue de Monde looks amazing!!! Got to make it there one day...I went to Bistro Vue (the less exy version) earlier this year and it was good too.

bbsnoopy said...

Yeh - it was definitely amazing!
It had only moved to the Rialto recently so now you get amazing view and amazing food :)