Saturday, January 21, 2006

Vue de Monde, Little Collins St, Melbourne

Vue de Monde, Little Collins St, Melbourne
Saturday 21 January, 2006

I have died and gone to heaven............

I always considered Tetsuya's my idea of food heaven - the preparation, quality, display, creativity and service - sheer brilliance. Tonight I experienced something that far surpasses this - is that possible? I feel incredibly guilty saying that but it's true and I have been dreaming of the food ever since (and Ryan, one of the Head Chef's ever since).

We were incredibly lucky to get in on a Saturday night as they are usually booked out months in advance. It's located on Little Collins St opp. the Irish Times Pub. We went there for a drink before dinner and loved the atmosphere and relaxed feel, especially the tiny nook with stained glass windows.

Vue De Monde is located in Normandy Chambers - an impressive looking building. Upon entry you are welcomed and made to feel at home. The staff are so switched on, polite, knowledgeable and welcoming. We had the best table in the entire restaurant (Table no.2) directly in front of the open kitchen. It was like watching theatre. They had even set the table so we were both watching the kitchen - ever single detail was considered. The crisp white table cloths were laid with signature Vue de Monde plates and a resting bar for the cutlery. I loved everything about it.

We had been given several recommendations for Vue de Monde but really didn't know what to expect. Once we were settled our waiter discussed how the evening would unfold. She asked if there were any foods we didn't eat, preferences (No and no) and then discussed our budget for the night. I can't recall ever being asked this in a restaurant but this is what happens. Everything is prepared in degustation style and the waiters prepare a degustation meal for you based on your budget and food preferences. This is then discussed with the Head Chef, Shannon Bennett. Apparently, they have 65 dishes available and prepare a menu for each table individually. We didn't have the same meal as the tables on either side, but did share a course or two with the one behind us.

We chose a 9 course meal (they go up to 13 courses) with matching wines. Everything is a surprise, you don't know what is coming and this definitely adds to the experience. We devoured the following courses:

- Chinese spoon of haddock with cucumber cream and a thin sliced hand cut potato crisp
- Thinly sliced abolone accompanied by wafer thin rockmelon strips wrapped around watermelon puree
- Grilled scallop served on corn puree with popcorn spinkled all over
- Mushroom risotto with Madeira and truffle sauce with slices of truffle over the top
- Layer of Whiting and prawn on sauteed iceberg lettuce with herbed salt and a prawn cracker
- Ballantine of pheasant with foie gras and pistachio mousse
served with apricot jelly
- Tomato consomme with gazpacho jelly
- Squab, its leg braised with carrots, leeks and the breast meat sandwiching a pistachio mousseline
- Rasperry sorbet and passionfruit souffle
- Millefeuille of chocolate layered with a doquoise of hazelnut, orange jelly and white chocolate

The food was faultless, ever dish was served and the first mouthful was magic. It's without a doubt the best meal I have ever experienced. I have never enjoyed every dish on a degustation menu - usually there are one or two standouts - with this experience I cannot highlight any one dish - it was phenomenal. OK, if I was forced to it would have to be the Mushroom risotto with Madeiraa and truffle sauce with slices of truffle over the top. It melted in your mouth.

The matched wines were magnificent. They complimented every dish as if they had been specifically made with the dish in mind. Our sommelier was excellent - not only did he talk about the wine, he also discussed the region and the winemakers.

We were enthralled by the theatrics in the kitchen and the effortless way they worked as a team to prepare so many dishes. Sure, there were 'words' exchanged amongst the chefs - this all added to the experience. The beauty of it is that they can witness your immediate reaction to the food. And believe me, there are reactions.

We befriended several other tables and discussed our favourite dishes. The waiters encouraged us to talk to the kitchen as it was directly in front of us, but it felt like we would be imposing on their focus.

Shannon looks like an eccentric musician. He is so calm in the kitchen, labouring over the broad beans, carefully wiping the plates, observing the other chefs - he is so fascinating to watch. The other chefs are clearly in awe of him and the wait staff are massive fans too.

Without a doubt, the best meal I have ever experienced - the price - well, let's just say it's not somewhere you would visit ever week, it's an experience and price should not matter.

Vue de Monde - 430 Little Collins St, Melbourne - (03) 996913888


Anonymous Lisa said...

oh, my god....i HAVE to go to this restaurant..... your descriptions are so enticing!

8:20 am  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

excellent info - have you thought of turning into a professional travel writer? you should contact gourmet travel magazine!

Ever so interesting as usual and i liked the blurb on the little snail! and vue de monde will be suggested to the boss for the next time we are in Melbourne for work... you have a really engrossing way of writing - are you getting any comments from other people on it? its a fantastic way also of almost diarising your life but without the intimate details - a road trip for us readers!

8:59 am  

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