Vue De Monde6/29/2011 11:45:00 AM
At my birthday party this year, my friend An handed me something that looked like a prop cigarette, but was actually a piece of paper wrapped up tightly and sealed with a yellow post-it note. And on that little piece of paper he'd typed: "Vue De Monde - Saturday 11 June". It was a double birthday present for Sandra and I! Squeeeeeee!
Vue De Monde
430 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9691-3888
I'd never been to Vue de Monde before, so I was glad that we got to experience the old, Normanby Chambers venue, before their move to the Rialto. I'm sure the new dining room will be stunning, but I just loved the warm feel of the decor and the bustling atmosphere of Normanby Chambers.
We were seated next to the kitchen, right in the middle of all the action, and got to see plate after plate of intricate food being ferried out by dozens of skilled waiters. The service throughout the evening was fantastic: the right level between friendly and efficient. They were also very switched-on and attentive. For example... when our waiter noticed that I was hurriedly scribbling down notes on the meal (not just for the blog, but also so I could actually remember all the different courses we were enjoying), he came over and informed me that they could just email us all the details of the food and wine - phew! I believe they offer this to all tables, but usually at the end of the night! There was actually only one negative I can think of: throughout the evening, four separate waiters topped up our water glasses with still water, even though we were all drinking sparkling. It wasn't a big deal at all, and was rectified instantly - we found it funny more than anything else!
Now, the food:
To start, we were brought a little appetizer of potato chips with sour cream, chive oil and dehydrated onion. (Sour cream and chives-flavoured chips are a guilty pleasure of mine, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed this!)
|Venison tartare sandwich|
Pumpkin log with chives and pumpkin seeds
House made yoghurt with macadamia praline
The second course was more theatrical. First, we were brought shallow bowls topped with mushrooms on wooden boards. A coffee percolator filled with konbu-infused mushroom consommé and pine needles was brought to our tables, and heated up. The consommé bubbled up from the bottom bulb into the top, and once it subsided, our waiter scraped the mushrooms from the board into the bowls, and poured the consommé over.
We really appreciated how the our non-seafood eater wasn't just given the vegetarian option during the seafood courses, but often a completely different dish altogether.
Yes, you read that correctly! Dom Pérignon and truffles!
In addition to the softly-set duck egg yolk sat atop white polenta (I believe), there were ciabatta croutons, onion rings (both pickled and fried), sweetbread sausage, and a delicious dark jus. There were great contrasts in the dish: the richness of the egg yolk against the sharp pickled onions, the soft egg, onion and sweetbread sausage against the crispy ciabatta and fried onion pieces - just lovely.
And of course... there was black truffle, which our waiter grated over our individual plates. Sandra actually said "no thank-you" to the truffle (OMG what?!), because she's not super-keen on them, and she'd been "forced" to sit through a 4-course truffle lunch at The Atlantic the day before. And you thought I was lucky! I was almost going to ask him to grate Sandra's share of truffle over my plate, but thought it might be poor form!
I was, unsurprisingly, quite full by this stage, but I really, really wanted to have a cheese course. (Walking through the restaurant during the evening, I'd walked past the cheese table: at least a dozen different cheeses, tantalizingly covered with a cheesecloth).
Our non-cheese eaters weren't ignored. They both got a cute pre-dessert, served in a yoghurt pot. There was yoghurt, little meringues, kiwi-fruits, a sprinkling of toasted muesli, and a 'champagne supernova'.
I found the cheese platter quite generous; I think it could easily be shared between two people, especially if you only want a few little tastes.
So, between cheese and dessert (yes, I know how gourmand that sounds!), we had a little entremet sucré of house made lemonade, frozen toffee apple, and popping candy.
I'm not sure if you can see it in the above picture, but the lemonade was smoking as it was brought to our table. Little balls of apple sorbet were coated in popping candy - refreshment and fun in one mouthful! I know popping candy is supposed to remind us of our childhood, but I've only ever had popping candy in high-end restaurants, hehe. The overall taste was sour and refreshing, getting our tastebuds ready for dessert...
The first (of two) desserts was Vue de Monde's take on a Weiss bar, which included many different versions of mandarin in the one dish. I don't ordinarily even like mandarins, but this was fabulous! There were fresh mandarin segments, a quenelle mandarin sorbet, crunchy dehydrated (?) mandaring pieces, and the "Weiss Bar", with a layer each of mandarin and creamy milk ice-creams. This came with a South African sweet wine, the Vin de Constance. Out of all the wine matches, this was the only one that didn't work for me - even though the wine was lovely by itself, I found that it seemed to muddy the pure, delicate flavours of the dessert.
And finally, we arrive at the tenth course...
But wait, there's more! The evening ended with coffees and some petits fours: sour lemon drops, chocolate mousse 'lamingtons' filled with raspberry jelly, mint marshmallows, and fruity candy in a sherbet powder.
A big thank-you to An for one of the best birthday presents ever! Now the question is: where on earth do we take him for his birthday later this year? Suggestions please!!!