I've been putting off writing this post about Vue de Monde because like the Tummy Rumbles crew, I didn't know how I could possibly describe perfection. I wanted to make this post perfect, but I know that's not possibly so will just write what I felt. Note that there will be a lot of rambling on from me, but there's a lot to tell. Like Mellie and Danny from Tummy Rumbles and Jon from Melbourne Foodie, I thought my dining experience at Vue de Monde was perfect. All other places have a lot to live up to now.
So let me set up the scene. We were discussing which restaurants we wanted to eat at. Of course, I said one place I wanted to go was Vue de Monde. Knowing that it is notoriously hard to get a booking at, we all agreed to book early. So hence we made up our minds and used the excuse of Jo's birthday to go all out and eat at Vue de Monde. So after some last minute problems (Phoung went and forgot and bought tickets to IMAX for that day), we all managed to make it to Vue de Monde nice and early.
I asked the staff over the phone when booking if they had a bar which we could have pre-dinner drinks at. I was informed that we could have drinks at the bar in the Cafe. So hence we got to Vue de Monde a whole hour early, thinking we could work our way through a few cocktails. When we walked into this totally beautiful hallway, I informed the staff of our booking and about being able to have a drink at the bar. He was really warm and led us to the bistro. The "door bitch" (Sarah's words, not mine) at Rockpool could learn a thing or two about being nice to customers. Anyway, we got to the bistro to find the "bar" this tiny area, bascially the reception of the bistro. Not to worry, we sat ourselves down and the waiter suggested we have some champagne. That sounded good and we talked the hour away drinking some very nice champagne. When our booking time arrived, the waiter sent a call to the restaurant and the same guy who initially greeted us came and led us to our table in the main restaurant. Along the way, we commented on his French accent, only for him to inform us he was English. So we joked about how he was putting on a fake French accent.
Once we were seated, the waiter offered to take our jackets to the cloak room. It was still a bit chilly so Paul and I both declined. Another waiter, this time with a real French accent, took our wine order. He offered to put the wine into a decanter so that it could breathe. I said that would be fine, since I don't know much about wine. While we drank our wine, yet another waitress came round to offer bread. These cute little breads with flavours like olive, sourdough, wheat etc were offered. I got a sourdough and then an olive one. The bread was very nice and when combined with the exquisite French butter, was a good start to the night.
Yet another waiter came to take our food orders, of sorts. There were so many waiters that carried food to our tables, but I guess this one was the main one as he checked back on us whilst the others didn't. The whole thing ran so smoothly though and we were all amazed that they didn't get confuse and doubling up of things happened or they might miss things. But no, not a problem at all. Anyway, our waiter Anthony, with his cool tatts on his middle finger and side of the hand, explained how the menu worked at Vue de Monde. We decided on 6 courses, with my request for the Wagyu course that Jon suggested was fantastic. Also, we were curious what Vue de Monde meant so asked him. It turns out it was a mistake by Shannon Bennett (head chef) at the time of inception. Vue du Monde means "view of the world", Vue de Monde means nothing really. But all the plates and things were made already and he liked the name so decided to keep it. So there's a bit of trivia for all of you.
Onto the food. I can't even really remember what all the ingredients were in each dish, so I'll leave that to more knowledgeable people to describe. I'll just describe what I thought of each dish and the sensations I had eating it.
The meal started off with an Amuse Bouche, which is a palette cleanser. Our waiter Anthony presented us with a champagne glass filled with a pea soup he told us. Atop the glass was a "san choi bao" type thing with egg and mince. The aim was to try and gulp it all down in one mouthful he joked. Well Kin took that challenge literally and did just that. The rest of us ate the top part, utterly was smooth due to the egg and light due to the lettuce and then drank the liquid. The liquid was very light and cleansing.
The first dish of the night was a Risotto with a Truffle emulsion if I remember correctly. Someone correct me if you know what this is as I would like to know exactly what it contains too. Anyway, the risotto was one of the best I've ever tasted. It was so nice and creamy with the flavours of mushroom through it. It wasn't mushy and you could still bite each grain of rice. The emulsion actually had a strong flavour, which surprised me. When eaten with the risotto, it enhanced the risotto even more.
Next up was Foie Gras with French Toast. The foie gras mousse was very rich but tasted like a strong pate of sorts. Paul had never tried foie gras before but said he really liked it. The French toast was slightly sweet, like tinged with cinnamon. That balanced well with the saltiness of the jamon. I didn't really like the apple puree but the 8 spices was nice with the French toast.
The Kingfish With Broccoli Cannelloni was possibly the best of the night. I don't like fish but this one was delicious. We were told how they removed all the scales and then painstakingly replaced the scales with fake scales made of potatoe. Those scales tasted so good, like little fried chips. The potatoe mash was very rich and creamy and the broccoli cannelloni went nicely with the currant sauce.
It was at this stage that we had our next palette cleanser. This little shot glass all smoking with dried ice came out. It was a Tomato Consomme with gazpacho jelly. We were told not try avoiding the dry ice. When all my dried ice had disappeared, I drank the consomme, to be shocked by the beautiful tomatoe and basil flavours that were infused in this white liquid. The jelly were little bursts of flavour as well.
This next dish was the one that Jon recommended we try. It was a Tataki Wagyu Beef with Yuzu Noodle. The wagyu was so delicious. I loved it. I don't know about it being better than the one at Rockpool though Jon. It's hard to say since this was such a small piece, I would need to eat more of it to make a sound judgement :-). I didn't like the Yuzu noodle though. It was way too strong and harsh for me. It needed to be used more sparingly.
Our final savoury dish was a Lamb Medley. From left I think there was a Lamb Confit, Twice Cooked Lamb and a Roast Lamb. They were sitting on a satay sauce with some honey jelly and these extremly cute tiny capsicums. This dish was possibly the only slightly disappointing dish of the night. The lamb confit was ok, the twice cooked lamb not so great and the dish rescued by the roast lamb. The roast lamb was so soft, tender and flavoursome.
In between the courses, the only times the waiters double up on something was when two separate waiters offered to help us take photos within minutes of each other. This was great since the first photo didn't turn out so well. Firstly, here is my shot of the birthday girl Jo, while she wasn't posing so she looked so natural and great.
Then a group shot of us, dressed up slightly for the night. It wasn't quite "break out the interview" suit time, but we weren't in our usual t-shirts. I think we looked quite smart actually. We should dress up more often.
While I waited for dessert, being the chef groupie that I am, I asked a waitress if it was ok that I took photos of the kitchen. She went to ask and came back to say it was ok. So I was snapping away at the kitchen and that wonderful overhanging mirror. I was staring at that mirror a lot to see all the interesting things they were making. The presentation on each dish was amazing, like an artwork.
While I was taking my photos, the waitress came round and asked if I wanted a photo with the chefs. Of course I did. I showed her how to work the camera and then met one of the chefs. See how sheepish I looked since other diners were watching me.
Since small things amuse small minds, we were also fascinated with the ultra cool tooth pick holder. It was fun to just keep picking out more tooth picks, even though no one actually needed one.
Dessert, or should I say desserts arrived after consultation with Anthony. I wanted something chocolate whilst everyone else wanted something fruity. Anthony said to leave it to him and he would satisfy us all.
The first pre-dessert dessert was a Fruit Salad. It contained a liquid nitrogen frozen kiwi fruit coated in jelly, mixed berries and a custard. It was very refreshing indeed. The kiwi fruit tasted like it was frozen, but without that icy feeling that you get when you actually freeze it in the fridge.
Next pre-dessert dessert was these cartons of eggs that we had been eyeing off all night. The cartons opened up to reveal three types of "eggs". There was Prune Eggnog, Pistachio Custard and Chocolate Mousse. The eggnog and chocolate mousse were fantastic, full of flavour. The pistachio custard I didn't like too much. I find most pistachio things taste rather fake. I'm not sure what it is, but things like pistachio gelati and ice cream just don't taste right.
Dessert finally arrived in this beautiful tower structure, which Anthony proceeded to break. He was saying how he accidentally broke a wine glass the first time he served this dessert. But he was getting really good at it and he "whacked" (yes that is my technical term) each sugar tower just enough to let the cream ooze out of it without breaking the whole structure. I think this dessert is called a White Chocolate Coulant with Strawberry Kebabs. Whatever it is called, I loved it. The creaminess of the lava sauce, mixed with the strawberry kebabs and puree. Even the little bits of mint added more flavour. The sugar tower broke into tiny pieces that I ate with the biscuit base. A wonderful dessert that I could never make at home.
Finally, with our bellies filled to near explosion, the Petit Fours came out. They looked so tantalising that I just had to eat them. From left to right, there was a Tumeric Cloud, Nougat, Pavlova, Coconut Ice, Chocolate with Silver Flakes. The tumeric cloud had such a great name but tasted rather strange and bad. The nougat was too soft for me. I like crunchier nougat but Jo and Paul preferred this softer one. The pavlova with the passionfruit sauce was cute and tasty. The nitrogen frozen coconut was my favourite. It was cool and refreshing. The chocolate was also deliciously smooth.
To the atmosphere. I liked the really modern look of the room with the fancy lights hanging from the ceiling on very apparent red wires. The sideways glasses with fake fruit in them is cute too. The whole restaurant had a very modern feel to it, mostly dominated by clean white lines. The chairs were ultra stylish and very comfortable. The level of noise in the restaurant is just right. It doesn't get too loud that you can't hear each other while mainting a certain level of noise such that you aren't afraid to talk at all.
The service was exceptional. I could not fault them on anything. They do all the small things and the big things well. For example, Paul and I had kept our jackets since it was still quite cool. As we sat longer in the restaurant, we got hotter so took them off. Before Paul could even hang his jacket on his chair, a waitress offered to take it to the cloak room. When Phuong went to the toilet and her meal arrived, they covered so it wouldn't get could. They also held out her chair for her to sit back in.
Everything was just so smooth and you didn't notice it. Food arrived all at once and was explained cleary by whichever waiter was the last to bring it. They all seemed to have a very strong grasp of the menu. We were asked a couple times during the night how things went. These questions occurred at just the right times. The first time was about 3 courses in, to see that things were heading in the direction we wanted. The next time was after our savoury dishes, to see if we wanted more. Then after dessert to check that we didn't need anything else.
I could go on and on about the great service, but then you would get bored. Let's just say they did everything that was needed to be done, such as delivering the food and clearing plates etc, really well. At the same time as being professional, all the waiters managed to retain a personable feeling, especially our main waiter Anthony. We had many jokes with him and he was fantastic. So thanks Anthony for your great work if you somehow happen to read this.
We left the restaurant at about 12:30am, having had a wonderful dining experience. This wasn't just a dinner, it was a whole experience. Some people may say that the price is way too expensive, but you dno't get dining experiences too often. Hence I feel that it was well worth it. If I had more money, I would go to Vue de Monde even more. There are still so many more dishes to try. I kept looking at the tables next to me to see what they were eating.
Overall, we all had a fantastic night. The incredible food with all its substance and style, was well matched by the service and atmosphere. For once, not only has my high high expectations of a place been met, it was exceeded. Kin and I were having a discussion about what score to give this place. I obviously said I would give it 20, but he then asked the philosophical question of how I could know it was Victoria's best, as the rating system describes a score of 20. I said that Victoria could have a few best and that my imagination of what the best would be like, would very much be like Vue de Monde. I said back to him that I would never be able to try all restaurants in Victoria, so does that mean I could never give 20. If I can't give 20, then 19 would be the highest and that would be reserved for Victoria's best. Following that logic, I would go all the way down to a score of 1 and therefore I can't rate anything. You see how applying logic incorrectly can create false conclusions. Anyway, that's a topic for another discussion. So I'm believe that Vue de Monde deserves a score of 20 and is close to perfection.
Overall Rating: 20/20, All facets of the dining experience was amazing.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.