Anyone who is serious about their food, knows about Vue de Monde in Melbourne. When we originally decided to visit Melbourne, we were only going to go to Bistro Vue as the cost of Vue de Monde can be prohibitive, but once we came to our senses we realised that 'Money be damned!' - we were going to experience Vue de Monde, even if it sent us into bankruptcy.
On arrival we were a little surprised at the quirky and quite small dining space. It is lovely, modern and quite comfortable. The waitstaff guide us through the variety of options for lunch, whether we were after the Menu du Jour (only available at lunch), Menu Gourmand or the Gastronome Menu. We decide upon the Menu Gourmand which at lunch time begins at $100 per person for 5 courses, with an extra $15 for each additional course.
The adventure began with an Amuse Bouche named 'Muesli Bar'. This came presented on a rock with a small cold pack underneath, which we did think made the dish look a little untidy. Having said that the dish itself was quite a revelation. There was puffed wild rice, roasted buckwhaet, poached quince and pumpkin 'snow' which all came together in a savoury but creamy and crunchy mouthful. We ate this with a 2008 Bodegas Catena Zapata Chardonnay from Argentina, which was quite amazing - especially as neither of us traditionally have been Chardonnay fans.
Following this came the Jardin De Legumes - or the Heide Vegetable Garden. This dish was incredibly pretty to look at and quite amazing on the palate. The dish is designed to replicate the 'Heide Vegetable garden' itself. There was an avocado mousse with an olive oil 'snow' which was made with dextrose and olive oil and dehydrated, and it was then accompanied with some selected vegetables. The snow completely tasted of olive oil, but in dry form. It was phenomenal.
Our next course was where Squeak and I parted ways with our dishes. Squeak was a bit concerned when her dish arrived, as it was a simple dish of celery and radish ribbons with dill and frozen sour cream. She liked it, but found it a bit lacking in adventure. It was at this point that she began to worry that she was going to be treated as a vegetarian diner, as was the case when we visited Marque some time ago.
My dish was Pickled Garfish with slivers of sweet potato and a passionfruit juice (although the emailed menu said swede - I was definitely told it was sweet potato). The juice was administered via pipette on arrival. I have never had garfish and I probably would not have ordered it, but it was delicious. There was a good textural and flavour combinations with the sweetness, but tartness of the passionfruit, in combination with the sharpness of the pickled garfish. It was tasty.
Our next course was when things really began to get interesting. As you can see from the picture, it looks like we were served an egg. However it was a duck egg yolk surrounded by a potato puree with brioche, onion rings and an onion, thyme jus. Oh my good god! The richness of that yolk combined with the intense 'potato' flavour of the puree in combination with the crisp onion rings and the really intensely flavoured jus were truly amazing. This dish was basically like the culmination of all of Squeak's favourite things. Egg, potato and onion rings - but mixed up in the mind of a culinary genius to create this masterpiece! It was here that our next wine arrived, and on this occasion it was a 2009 Portal Montsant 'Brunus' Rose from Northern Spain and it was also a great match.
The next dish is one where Squeak felt she gained the upper hand - however I do not agree. She was served Duck breast with potato tuilles and lemon sauce. She was in some kind of heavenly state while eating the duck claiming it to be the hands down best duck she has ever experienced, and considering it was then combined with both potato and lemon - she was certainly well catered for.
My dish was the Roasted marron with spanner crab, apple discs and crispy duck tongue. Yes that is correct - duck tongue! I will admit to feeling a bit weird about eating that, but I have to say that it was really delicious, and kind of reminded me of pork crackling. The marron was really amazing, and an interesting texture, and the sweetness of the crab, the sharpness of the apple and the saltiness of the tongue worked very well together.
So often Squeak and I plan to order a cheese course, but cannot go the distance. On this occasion though, due to the elongated nature of the lunch as well as the thankfully small courses, we thought we could, and should, do it this time. We were presented with a Millawa Blue Cheese, pumpkin puree served with a delicious toffeed nut crumb and crisp rye bread. This came with a Grand Maison Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. The match between this wine and this cheese was perfection.
The pre-dessert arrived then and, once again, it was the perfect way to get our palates ready for dessert. It was a frozen vanilla yogurt with pop rocks and home made lemonade. This dish did all sorts of things to our mouths with the sharpness of the lemonade and the pop rocks and the creamy coolness of the vaanilla frozen yogurt. Really good.
Prior to dessert we were asked what preferences we had in terms of flavour and ingredients. Squeak suggested she was more inclined to fruit, while I was more inclined to chocolate. Squeak's resulting dessert was a very simple poached banana with a malted muscovado and hazelnut crumb and ice cream. This dessert is one that Squeak still finds herself thinking about in a quiet moment. It was delicious in its simplicity.
I was presented with a chocolate souffle with chocolate foam and creme anglaise (which came presented in a testube protruding from the centre of the souffle, which was promptly removed and poured in the centre of the souffle). The souffle was incredibly light, chocolatey and quite delicious. I will admit to a small twinge of disappointment however. The meal to this point had been inventive and quirky at times, and I think I would have liked some of that to cross over into my dessert - much like The Bentley does. Having said that, I cannot deny that it was an excellent souffle.
This was the conclusion to what was a long, leisurely, beautiful lunch.
One downside to the Vue de Monde experience occurred prior to our visit. We had been in email communication with the restauarnt to check that some of Squeak's food idiosynchrosies would able to be accommodated, and despite some initial return communication, they did fail to reply to one of our requests. On arrival we realised that our requests had been noted, they just had not replied, which we thought was a bit of poor form for a restaurant of this calibre.
On the day though, service was very professional, friendly, but unobtrusive. We were slightly weirded out by the lack of women waitstaff - by lack, I mean there were absolutely none! We don't know if this was just the day, or if this is how it always is, but it was strange to be in such a 'male' space.