Vue de Monde

Level 55 Rialto Towers
Melbourne, VIC 3000
After years of salivating, I’m finally at Vue de Monde for the grand finale of my 21st birthday celebrations. But now that I’m here with my ‘been there done that’ badge, I realise that I have absolutely no idea how to even start writing about a lavish meal spanning the course of an entire afternoon, never mind doing the experience justice.  Plus I feel a little lysdexic today, but I may as well give it a crack anyway, before I psych myself out and throw in the towel.  
Vue de Monde is fancy, and proud of it. They make an effort to flaunt their elevated rank, sparing no expense on the kangaroo-hide chairs, imported French cutlery, and of course the million dollar view from the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers. That said though, the vibe in the restaurant may be grandiose, but was still surprisingly down-to-earth. 
The service was of course seamless; we were greeted by name the moment we stepped out of the private elevator, our chairs were pulled out for us, and the blinds lowered to reduce the glare without us even having to ask. Everyone who served us that day was fantastic, but the maître d’ was an absolute star, marrying professional service with an exception depth of knowledge, and a great sense of humour. 
Salt and Vinegar Crisps, Macadamia, Apple
Forget the bread and butter; before the meal even formally began, we were served a buffet of canapés to tickle our appetites, and the first of those was the Salt and Vinegar Crisps, Macadamia, Apple. On their own, the crisps weren’t anything amazing (though their ephemeral texture was certainly remarkable), but they were brought down to earth with a smooth macadamia dip, its creamy nuttiness working wonders with the slight tang of the crisps. 
Truffle Marshmallow
We were offered truffle shaved over 3 of our courses for an extra $60pp, and whilst it was a tempting offer, I turned it down. Thankfully we still had our fling with fancy fungi, thanks to the Truffle Marshmallow. I’ve never had legitimate high quality truffles before, and the tiny amount sprinkled over the marshmallow made clear what all the fuss was about. The explosion of pungent umami across my tongue was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, the amazing aroma a wonderful complement to the fluffy marshmallow coated in breadcrumbs. 
Smoked Eel, White Chocolate, Caviar
We continued our journey (and to think, the meal hasn’t even started!) with a bite-sized piece of Smoked Eel, White Chocolate, Caviar. Biting through the crisp white chocolate casing, the creamy sweetness met a smoky brick of eel in a successful mix of the sweet and the savoury. 
Salt Cured Wallaby
Salt Cured Wallaby
Perhaps my most favourite canapé was the Salt Cured Wallaby, a thin ribbon of Flinders Island wallaby lightly cooking on a slab of warm pink salt.  Rolled up with a dollop of wild herb emulsion, the fillet of wallaby melted on the tongue with a flavour that was half pungent game, and half grassy beef.
BBQ Lamb Hearts
I have to admit with no little shame that whilst I was chewing on the BBQ Lamb Hearts, I spent most of my time being somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that I’m eating heart. Needless to say, this wasn’t a stand-out dish for me, though there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with it, I just don’t heart hearts. 
Duck Tongue, Mountain Pepper
Duck Tongue, Mountain Pepper however is something I’m more familiar with. But instead of being marinated like you see in the window of Cantonese restaurants, these were smoked until the chewy little strips became infused with sweetness from the glaze, and a snappy kick from the pepper.  
Iced Tea
Marking the beginning of the meal proper was a tiny carafe of Iced Tea. I wasn’t a fan of the overly saccharine taste of the intense brew, but I’ll admit that the strong herbal flavours bridged the canapés and the mains well. 
Barramundi, Potato, Chicken, Caviar
Making an unexciting but solid start was the Barramundi, Potato, Chicken, Caviar, the thick chicken broth robustly flavoured with apple vinegar added a fruity dimension to the canvas of cleanly grilled barramundi. 
Can I take a moment out here for some cutlery appreciation? Not only is the silverware intricately etched (the range is called The Garden of Eden) and imported from France, the stones on the table that at first glance, appeared to be mere decoration, turned out to play intricate roles in our meal as well. And look! A salt and pepper dish carved into a stone! 
Kangaroo, Beetroot
We got our first dose of theatre for the day with the Kangaroo, Beetroot. Instead of finishing it up in the kitchen, the fillets of Flinders Island kangaroo were brought to the table, sizzling and spitting on a slab of hot Japanese oak.
Kangaroo, Beetroot
Cooked only a smidge past blue, the cutlet of kangaroo was all sorts of caramelised goodness, permeated with the smoky wood scent of the oak. Served on the side was a handful of chewy dehydrated berries and pulpy beetroot raisins, their sweetness a contrast to the fatty bone marrow and beetroot sauce. 
Blackmore Wagyu, Smoked Bone Marrow, Saltbush
We’ve gathered by now that the names of the dishes don’t even give away half of what’s on our plates. Case in point: the Blackmore Wagyu, Smoked Bone Marrow, Saltbush. Though it sounds just like a simple steak, what we were served was actually a quaint little salad of diced pear, wagyu morsels, macadamia, fried saltbush, topped with a grating of not cheese, but wagyu fat. Funnily enough, this dish didn’t stand out much for me beyond the visuals. I found that the promised beefiness was lost amongst the multitude of flavours and textures, irretrievable even with the help of the melting wagyu fat. 
Cucumber, Wood Sorrel
Cucumber, Wood Sorrel
The theatrics reached its peak with our palate cleanser of Cucumber, Wood Sorrel. Initially just a dish of fresh herbs, they were frozen at the table with a lick of liquid nitrogen, and we were instructed to grind the herbs down with our pestle, before having a quenelle of cucumber ice cream dropped onto it. Though I wouldn’t get a scoop on a waffle cone, the ice cream was creamy and light, an unusual flavour that was indeed good for cleaning the palate, as well as confusing it just a tad. 
Duck Yolk, Pear, Truffle
Duck Yolk, Pear, Truffle
The Duck Yolk, Pear, Truffle is every brunch-lover’s dream come true. Garnished with only translucent coronas of pear and a scattering of fried saltbush leaves, the single slow-cooked duck yolk wobbled on the plate, releasing a radiant stream when pierced by the fork.  The truffle in this dish wasn’t nearly as noticeable, which was just as well, because it gave us the chance to appreciate the rich creaminess of the yolk slathered over the sweet pear.
Halfway through this dish, we were offered a small loaf of sourdough, encrusted with fennel and warmed by hot stones, to mop up the remainder of the egg yolk. More exciting was the fresh butter, which had been hand-churned in the kitchen over the last 45 minutes in a century-old butter churner. Airy like you would not believe, the butter spread like cream and tasted like it too. 
Marron, Pine Mushroom Cream
The Marron, Pine Mushroom Cream was undoubtedly my favourite dish of the day. The flat slab of granite held one perfect marron tail, roasted in brown butter and tarragon. Both the flavour and texture of the marron was absolutely stunning, the pearly, bouncy fillet all the richer from the slow roasting. We were encouraged to pick it up with our fingers, and to dip it into the musty pine mushroom cream on the side. I could’ve eaten a dozen of these, and promptly died happily of a heart attack right after. 
Soft Shell Crab, Tarragon
Our next dish is officially named Soft Shell Crab, Tarragon, but I preferred the name our waiter gave to it – The Crab Shack. Consisting of crab served three ways, the presentation immediately brought to mind a rock pool scuttling with life. Delicious, delicious life. 
Soft Shell Crab, Tarragon
My favourite on the platter was the translucent pieces of crab still in their roasting juices, sandwiched between two feathery crisp breads. I found the salt and pepper crab a bit salty, but the flavour was indisputably good. Lastly, I ate up the grabby claws of the soft shell crab like a luxury version of potato chips. 
Cobia, Kale, Buttermilk
Our final savoury dish was the Cobia, Kale, Buttermilk, and I have to say that this was the only miss of the day. The cured cobia had way too much salt that could be comfortably carried by the delicate fish, and I wasn’t a fan of the slightly fermented buttermilk dressing. The roasted kale was delicious though, I’ll give it that. 
All throughout the meal I had been eyeing the cheese trolley, and our turn finally came. As soon as the glass window was opened, we could smell the pungent aroma of two dozen cheeses, and each one was described to us in detail before we were given the chance to pick 5 to sample. 
Assortment of Cheeses, Bread, Jams
Assortment of Cheeses, Bread, Jams
The name Assortment of Cheeses, Bread, Jams does not nearly cover the magnificence of spread we were served. We were given fingers of warm sourdough, lavosh crisps, sweet dehydrated grapes, tangy pickled pear, a trio of jams – pear, onion, rhubarb, and the most phenomenal honey sourced from Beechworth to complete our feast. 
(Left to Right) Brillat-Savarin/Brie/Comte/Pyengana Cheddar/Mountain Man
It was hard to settle on just 5, but eventually we managed with lots of humming and hawing, and help from our lovely maître d’, and here they are, from left to right:
Brillat-Savarin:  runny, chalky triple cream brie that spreads like butter and tastes indulgently creamy.
Brie: a lovely, ripe specimen, rich and nutty. I could eat this by the mouthful.
Comté: a pale yellow wedge that’s mild but quite musty, it was one of the best ones to have with the honeycomb.
Pyengana Cheddar: though quite aged and crumbly, it wasn’t overwhelmingly rich or smelly, and had a surprisingly fruity note to it.
Mountain Man: this washed rind cow’s cheese was soft, mild, and lightly brined. The candidate of the day to have with the sweet accompaniments. 

Celery, Coconut, Lemon
Marking the transition to dessert, we were served ice lollies of Celery, Coconut, Lemon. Though the centre of coconut ice cream was predictable, the celery added an unanticipated greeny freshness to the cold sweet that worked surprisingly well. 
Mandarin, Milk
The Mandarin, Milk was a stunning little confection; the creamy milk ice cream was garnished with a candy-like coating of mandarin reduction, a flurry of musk snow, and stained-glass shards of toffee. The youthful taste took me swiftly and unexpectedly back to my childhood days, peddling my pink bike to the milk bar for musk sticks in the summer heat. Remember that scene at the end of Ratatouille where the food critic ate the ratatouille? It was just like that. 
Tonka Bean Soufflé, Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream
The Tonka Bean Soufflé, Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream was hard to miss when it was being served to everyone around the room due to the trail of oohs and ahhs that followed. Of course it was faultless, and of course it was delicious. The nutty vanilla fragrance of the tonka bean was incorporated in the vaporous soufflé, forming a natural pairing with the rich chocolate mousse, and the scoop of smoky dark chocolate ice cream. 
Raspberry Lamingtons
But wait, there’s more! The meal had officially finished at this point, but there were still petite fours to come. The first of them was a pair of petite Raspberry Lamingtons that were made from not sponge, but chocolate mousse, and topped with a dollop of shockingly tangy raspberry jam.
Orange and Bourbon Jelly/Pork Crackling with White Chocolate/White Chocolate Shells
This picture actually contains 3 different types of sweets, believe it or not. The most obvious one is the Orange and Bourbon Jelly moulded into the shape of coins, but less so was the Pork Crackling with White Chocolate, which tasted like an absurdly crunchy piece of caramel popcorn fried in lard. And so unobtrusive that we didn’t even notice until the waiter pointed it out was the White Chocolate Shellsfilled with salted olive oil, which whilst visually pleasing, didn’t do much for my tastebuds. 
Eucalyptus Ice Cream
We finished our journey with a simple sphere of Eucalyptus Ice Cream, which was suitably refreshing, the volatile oils cleansing our palates and closing the doors on our meal.  And just in case you were wondering, our 10-course degustation cost us $250pp, and took a whole 4 hours to complete. If you wanted to do a date activity such as a walk in the park or a movie, I would suggest doing it before the meal, as we were both near-comatose by the end. 
Vue de Monde has the entirety of Melbourne at its feet, both metaphorically and literally. However, I had a hard time deciding on the score to give it, even after a lengthy discussion with Chris. I wouldn’t give the food an elusive 20, but then again, the service and overall experience was entirely one-of-a-kind. I’ll bestow it with a tentative 18 out of 20, but the reality is that it’s something that needs to be personally experienced to be fully understood.
Rating: 18/20 – worldly.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

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  • Reply Charlie 10/07/2014 at 12:07 pm

    Looks like an amazing experience! If only they did a desserts only course. :P

    • Reply ming 11/07/2014 at 1:17 pm

      It is absolutely phenomenal! I’d recommend that you do it at least once if you’re a fan of fine dining, or just being pampered in general. Speaking of desserts only though, have you tried Cafe Rosamond? They do a 3 course dessert degustation!

  • Reply dimi darmos 23/07/2014 at 1:17 pm

    Loved your review :)

  • Reply Anonymous 24/07/2014 at 4:09 am

    great read and review!

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