Maz and I cleverly scheduled a day off work, while I-Hua snuck out for a long lunch. We weren’t aware of exactly how long a lunch it was going to be. One hour stretched into two hours… which extended to three hours. (Sorry, I-Hua’s company!)
We were a bit early for our table, so we were directed up to the Lui Bar via the snazzy nightclub style elevator. At the Lui Bar, we spread out on their couches, admired the view, and decided that: nope, 1pm was definitely not too early for a negroni. Not too early at all.
And what a negroni – check out the massive, singular ice cube sphere. So swish.
After 30 mins, our table was ready, and we were shown into the restaurant. Man cave alert (which isn’t a negative – it is what it is): the restaurant is black, black, black – black walls, black floors, black chairs, and tables covered in black kangaroo leather. And where it wasn’t black, it was shiny metal, glass orbs, and the occasional chair back covered in soft fur. Somehow, it all works together to create a very unique fit out. And the view. Yes, the view up there on the 55th floor is indeed lovely. If you weren’t enjoying your dining companions, you could always just watch Melbourne down below.
All tables had a selection of rocks and twigs laid out in the middle. We discovered during the meal that they all had a purpose – from bread plates, to salt, pepper and butter holders and cutlery and knife stands.
Upon being shown the menu, we were given a quick bite to eat – super thin, almost translucent, chips that came with a dipping sauce. If all chips were as good as these, I would never eat anything else.
As mentioned previously, we were there for a 2 course express lunch. The menu offered two choices for entrée, main and dessert, and we asked whether we could add a third course. This was possible, at $15, so we went ahead for 3 courses and made our selections.
Before bread, we then received another delicious complimentary bite – ham and cheese donuts.
Bread came out in a black (natch) bag, with a heated stone in the bottom to keep them warm and was refilled during our meal.
And butter… the unseasoned French butter was scooped out in quenelles from a big wooden bucket. We (well, mainly Maz) oohed and ahhed over the butter. If you could marry butter, Maz would’ve married it. Failing that, she might’ve considered marrying the butter guy, because as the waiter remarked, “Everyone loves the butter guy.”
Chips, donuts, bread and butter – it was like we’d had a mini meal before our actual meal even started.
For entrees, Maz opted for the beautifully presented ox tongue salad. The tongue had been lightly pickled, and was served with several types of thinly sliced radishes, with a combination of dehydrated and steamed vegetables. Shannon Bennett told us that the inspiration for this dish was from a very old recipe, which mostly they had kept the same – apart from the addition of dehydrated vegetables (do you like how I just casually name dropped there?)
I-Hua and I both had the grilled shrimp for our entree. Shannon Bennett brought the dish over and personally blow torched our shrimp at the table, just giving them a light char and torching some of the herbs.
I wish I could say that we received special treatment because of our awesomeness, but it looked like he did the rounds at each table. I must say that it was really nice to see him there.
Shannon aside, the dish was absolutely delicious. Served with a savoury fresh oyster sauce on the side, and avocado underneath, it was creamy and delightful. Definitely the winner out of the two entrees.
After entrees, our table was set for mains and a palate cleanser. We wondered what the big wooden item was for.
The palate cleanser came out initially as a bowl of herbs and lime flowers. Then a waiter came around poured liquid nitrogen over them to freeze them.
The purpose of the wooden thing was then revealed – we used it as a pestle to mash up the frozen herbs.
On top was then placed a scoop of cucumber sorbet. Ta dah! Palate cleanser! And what a palate cleanser: fresh, cold, slightly sweet, with bursts of basil and mint, it was very refreshing.
For mains, I-Hua had the fish. She didn’t share it with us, so she must’ve enjoyed it!
While Maz and I both choose the waygu beef. Scattered around the main piece of beef was tender braised pieces, a mustard sauce, and onions done two ways: fried and pickled.
The mains also came with sides. One side was fried potatoes, which came out cutely wrapped in newspaper and twine.
And the other was a smoked cheese and watercress salad with discs of red cabbage.
We then moved on to a second palate cleanser – a small glass of passionfruit liquorice beer and frozen coconut balls. The passionfruit beer was quite sweet and fizzy, but it had a strange mouthfeel. We loved the frozen coconut balls though.
There were two choices on the dessert menu – the first was a chocolate souffle, and the second was cheese. I-Hua and I both decided on the chocolate souffle. When it was brought out, the waiter poked holes around the side and poured in vanilla creme anglaise.
It looked amazing, and as expected it was light and fluffy. However, it was also incredibly, incredibly sweet. Delicious, but too high on the sweet scale for me.
Maz had the cheese, which came with several accompaniments – three types of jam (fig, strawberry and onion) plus rhubarb, apple, pear and a couple of breads. Unfortunately, while the accompaniments came out quickly, it took a long time (at least 15 minutes) for the cheese trolley to be wheeled over.
When it did make its way to our table, Maz selected four cheeses from the rather large selection. They were very generous with the portioning – it could’ve easily been shared amongst two or three people.
And finally, we received a selection of petit fours. At the back were minted marshmallows with a tiny sprig of thyme and VdM’s own golden gay times. And at the front we had raspberry lamingtons and gin jubes.
I loved the little gaytimes. So cute.
The raspberry lamingtons were amazing – squares of chocolate mousse covered in coconut with a small amount of fresh raspberry sauce. A great end to a fab meal.
It was so worth the day off – we had a very enjoyable lunch and had a fantastic time. Though I must say, service was a touch… stiff? Not terribly impressed with us? It was hard to gauge whether it was us or whether they were always like that! They were efficient (apart from when it came to the cheese) but just not that friendly. Personally, I think if you’ve got a table of people who are laughing their heads off and obviously enjoying themselves, you can afford to crack a smile or two. Or even a joke. Ho hum, never mind. We had a great time despite that and I’m still keen to head back for the full spectacle one day.
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Vue de Monde
Level 55, 525 Collins Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000.
Phone: 03 9691 3888