One of the joys in life is discovering something extraordinary. As a concierge nothing is better than meeting someone who is passionate about their chosen field. Shannon Bennett is such a person. He has taken his passion for the culinary arts and created one of Australia’s most celebrated restaurants.
Vue de monde comprises only 17 tables on the 55th floor of the iconic Rialto building. The restaurant towers over Melbourne providing diners with an exemplary experience, all with jaw dropping views. Vue de monde has evolved since its first incarnation in Carlton as has the Bennett empire which now includes Bistro Vue, Bar Vue and four Cafe Vues (Lt Collins, St Kilda Road, Melbourne Airport and the Heide Museum of Modern Art).
Vue de monde is quintessentially Shannon’s artistic expression of his love of food and the dining experience. Everything about the restaurant is set to impress as well as to invoke thought and reflection.
An experience at Vue de monde begins with a welcome in the lobby of the Rialto towers. Your host ushers you into a private lift that whisks you up and away to the world of Vue de monde. Your first glimpse of the establishment is the Lui Bar with corrugated steel walls and transparent plastic clouds floating over a stone bar, all with and an unobstructed view of the city and the bay. Inscribed in yellow neon lights on the main wall behind the bar is a quote from Nietzsche’s New Darwinism by John Richardson ‘A true individual is precisely one who is different from the rest of the world, and there is no formula, no set of rules, no code of conduct that can possibly capture in informative terms what it is to be like that’. Welcome to Vue de monde – it’s clear some conventions are going to be broken and perfectly evident that so much inspiration has gone into this enterprise.
Now that you are prepared for the spectacle to begin you are ushered into the dining room through a hidden entrance between floating walls. The room is the finest example of sustainable ingenuity that you will find in an Australian dining room. The kitchen and dining room are adjacent to each other without divide clearly denoting that the kitchen is front and centre for your experience. Remarkably the room is elegantly quiet considering the activity of the kitchen and wait staff.
Your table top is upholstered in kangaroo leather and adorned with a series of rocks and sticks that will feature as the parade of culinary creativeness commences. Each course showcases an unusual process, delicacy, flavour combination or presentation. The rocks and sticks on your table magically transform to cradle cutlery, offer accompaniments or even to present food. The sheer theatricality of the event is a joy to experience. The service is reminiscent of the old days of silver service, now modernised and delivered in a refreshing way with waiters and chefs finishing dishes at your table. The story of each course brought to life with tales of invention, method, influence and execution all imparted by enthusiastic and charming waiters, chefs and sommeliers. One of the highlights of the evening was the interaction with the team of professionals. Each presentation was personal; some dramatic, some academic, some theatrical – all a delight.
A few favourites of my meal were the Melbourne onion soup, finished at the table in a 1950’s coffee percolator. It was quirky and delightful to see such inventiveness paired with such an exquisite dish. I tremendously enjoyed the truffle marshmallows, salt cured wallaby, king prawn seaweed salted duck yolk with wasabi and duck yolk pear with truffle. Each of the wine pairings were sublime creating a tour around the old and new worlds of wine. Included were two very special examples of champagne – a particular favourite of mine. The cheese cart was impeccably curated and I am eager to return and enjoy an encore.
Shannon Bennett has taken every aspect of the experience of dining and has created an Australian interpretation which is bold, theatrical, beautiful and sustainable. This is a uniquely Australian experience. Vue de monde presents an invitation for the world to visit and experience a Melbourne interpretation of the culinary arts.
I was delighted to be informed that each guest dining on the degustation menu is presented upon departure a morning after bag. The bag contains home-made muesli, botanicals, brioche, biscuits and honey which are to be served for breakfast the next day. I found myself enjoying my breakfast the morning after revisiting my experience. One other delightfully unexpected service is an email that arrives a few days after your meal listing each course and the paired wines, simply for your records.
As an aside, one of my steadfast concierge rules in assessing the quality of a restaurant is to check the condition of the facilities. Not only will you find the facilities at Vue de monde spotless as you would expect, here you will also see a wonderfully inventive and sustainable example of commercial facilities. Patrons will find notes explaining how the sustainable aspects have been achieved. Form meets function with incredible design elements and the best view in town. Another tick in the totally impressed box at Vue de monde.
Lunch is served Tuesday to Friday and Sundays, dinner is served Monday to Saturday. There is a counter meal served in the Lui Bar during lunch service for $39 per person which includes the dish of the day, a glass of wine or beer, coffee and a sweet treat. Vue de monde offers a choice for lunch of a four course à la carte menu for $150 or you may choose the degustation menu. The degustation menu is served for lunch and dinner and is $200 to $250 per person. Please note that the degustation menu varies daily. Consideration for allergies and food preferences are gladly accommodated so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. Vue de monde offers one of the best event spaces in town at Vue Events.
Vue de monde is located on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers at 525 Collins Street and can be contacted on 03 9691 3888 or on Twitter @Vuedemonde. When booking feel free to drop my name for a spectacular table! The reservations team will take amazing care of you, they are the best!
NB: Bennett fans please stay tuned for the introduction of Burnham Beeches in the Dandenongs.
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