Monday, March 25, 2013

Vue De Monde @ Melbourne, CBD

Looking back in our first year of Melbourne, it was definitely a good year in terms of eating out. Yes, there's a lot of hatted restaurants out there (with new potential hatted ones sprouting throughout the year) but we couldn't have imagined striking off two 3 hatted restaurants in a year. While pictures from the Jacques Reymond meal seem to be have vanished into my archive of pictures, the Vue De Monde pictures are fresh out from the camera, even though the meal is close to 4 months ago. 


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Located on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers, the surroundings was deserted on a Sunday afternoon, normal since this is the business side of town. However as expected with a top restaurant, you will be greeted by someone that is stationed at the lobby before being lead up the lift and up to your dining experience. 


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They say the view here is magnificent and that's true in any place, especially when you are up on the 55th floor. Look a little closely though and you will realise this is the west side of town and apart from Etihad stadium and Docklands, there isn't really any great architecture to admire except for the bright blue sky. 

Once you reach up, we were greeted and seated at the Lui Bar, not really informed whether it was because the table wasn't ready or this was part of the experience i.e. to sit down and have a drink before a meal. At 1.30pm (the later sitting), I would have liked the option to be seated so I can eat because I was starving by then. Another thing I noticed was the state and condition of the suits that the waiters were wearing. It looked completely worned out and one of them had a little tear and hole. Compared to what we saw in NYC, this was a little poor (despite the prices being comparable).

For the uninitiated, there's really two options here, a degustation of multiple courses or 4 courses. Although we agreed to stick to 4 courses before hand, apparently my stomach decided that we should go for the full blown meal. 

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An assortment of teasers or amuse bouches if you will are laid out to get the saliva going. From simple potato crisps (but with a really refreshing dip), cured wallaby, candied eel (awesome), a rather tiny oyster to what tasted like a palate cleanser, it was creative and we particularly loved the unorthodox plating that came along with it.

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The spanner crab was sweet and fresh as it should be and paired with avocado that had been treated into a smooth mousse with a little caviar. Simple clean flavours and left us wanting more.

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Bread was next, an assortment of sorts warmed with a rock inside the basket. A tub of Echire butter (I love this butter) is bought to the table and a nice quenelle of it is served. 

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Following on the lines of simple clean flavours, the marron was served with some flavoured butter and salt. Holy cow, this was good, bite into the juicy crustacean and all you taste of is the sea (in a good way). Now if only they could have served more than a piece, like three.

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While the first couple dishes was simple to highlight the seafood, their version of onion soup was sophisticated and gosh it was good, along with a commentary about the instrument used.

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After a high, the asparagus and duck egg was alright but no one should say no to a creamy yolk, especially one of a duck.


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The palate cleanser came with a little theatrics, the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the herbs before a perfect quenelle of sorbet comes along.

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The first of the more "substantial" dishes, a crispy skin barramundi and this gorgeous low temperature bbq'ed prawn paired with a sauce that tasted like the sea. The prawn was definitely the highlight, almost rare with a hint of smokiness.

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We hear about David Blackmore all the time as the brand of all brands for wagyu beef. Grilled table side, it was good but when the size of it is that tiny square in the background, you can't really taste as clear as you would with a steak-like piece. As if David Blackmore wasn't grand enough, the small serve of cheeks/braise had black truffle shaved all over as well (not exactly prime season but had the indistinguishable smell on the nose). The sauce was a beet reduction, apparently a whole kilo yields nothing more than a tiny saucepan, sticky and sweet.

With that, the savoury dishes ended although we had the option to go one more. A few suggestions like lamb or another fish toyed with my mind before I decided that we will go ahead to desserts.

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A passion fruit beer (shot glass) and a coconut-like chocolate ball kicked it off, a teaser if you would like.

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The strawberry themed dessert was absolutely fantastic, with strawberries done in a few different ways and topped with some ice-cream / sorbet.

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The chocolate souffle was probably the most disappointing possible end, it tasted eggy but airy and the sauce a little rich.

Thinking back, what was even more disappointing is how I am now reading reviews of people having the full blown menu and everyone had the cheese course and we weren't given any! 

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Petit Fours came and that was the end of the meal. I remembered the platter not being very pleasing with one of the pieces tasting like soap. 

You know what they say, first impressions are important but the ending is equally as important and in this case, was rather anti climax. The amuse bouche were interesting and tasty, the seafood dishes were simple and highlighted the produce and the use of truffles and David Blackmore much appreciated. However, a disappointing dessert and a missing cheese course is probably not what you would expect from one of the most expensive restaurants in Melbourne.

(So disappointed, that I almost forgot about the delicious brioche loaf and jam that they packed for us for our breakfast the day after, loved the touch.)

Vue De Monde is certainly fitting for a special event, with the views from the 55th floor and some really good food. However, comparing this meal to the meal we had at Eleven Madison Park (bearing in mind that Eleven Madison Park was slightly cheaper and is a 3 michelin star restaurant in NYC), Vue De Monde certainly lagged behind, whether it was the number of courses, the "wowness" of the dishes and the service (I still can't believe the state of some of the waiters' suits). 

It may be the best in Melbourne to a lot of people but I think it can do even better.

Address and contact details:

Vue de Monde on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars (almost a little too generous). When it has the reputation of being one of the most expensive restaurants and one of the four 3 hatted restaurants in Melbourne, frankly, I expected a little more.

6 comments:

Ciki said...

zomg!! food looks fantastic. the lighting so good hor. . food really pops! I think going for the full blown was a great idea.. portions rather small right? haha

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ciki: yeah it would have prob been more disappointing going for the 4 courses! lighting in the middle of lunch, of course, brilliant! portions were alright, not the biggest out there.

iamthewitch said...

Gosh the courses looked so delicate and good! Almost too pretty to be eaten! Haha.. Haven't had any chance to do degustation in Sydney yet. Still in the stage where I 'sometimes' do conversion to RM! haha

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

iamthewitch: simple solution, try converting your salary to RM and you will be like, i think i should be able to afford this.

msihua said...

Gosh we still haven't posted ours! I did like it, but like you we felt that something was missing considering its reputation!

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

msihua: well i know what was missing from mine, the cheese course!