1. Avocado tart.
    Photograph: Jason Loucas
  2. Marron tail.
    Photograph: Jason Loucas
  3. Chef Hugh Allen at Vue de Monde.
    Photograph: Jason Loucas
  4. Chilled radish broth.
    Photograph: Jason Loucas
  • Restaurants
  • price 3 of 4
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended

Review

Vue De Monde

5 out of 5 stars

After a kiss of new life, one of Melbourne’s long-reigning royals of the fine dining scene has awoken from its three-month beauty sleep a stunner

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Time Out says

Rocketing up to the highest floor of the Rialto Tower, your ears might pop and your stomach drop, but the destination is well worth the ride. At dusk, the rapidly fading sunlight in Vue de Monde bounces off the CBD’s skyscrapers, and the twinkling lights and far-off ranges are so very, very beautiful. It’s a dramatic entrance, and one that sets the tone for your meal to follow. After all, this experience feels just as much like a work of theatre as it does a restaurant. 

But you might be relieved to find the stuffiness of its previous incarnations is long gone. The centrepiece kitchen’s new extensions welcome you into the hustle-bustle: there’s an intimacy with the close-knit team and their busy work that no longer feels like a secret operation. A succession of charming international staff are introduced by name, and with the restaurant’s passionate executive chef Hugh Allen at the helm, it really does feel just like one big happy family.

And so, proceedings are eased along by my host and his impressively stocked Champagne trolley. First drink in hand, a palate cleanser chilled by a moat of ice is brought forth: a bowl of earthy radish and raspberry broth, topped artfully with geranium petals, and rendered even earthier by subtle notes of fermented koji. A grounding beginning. Next is a whisper-delicate tart wearing a crown of purple borage flowers, under which mandolin-shaved curls of avocado and samphire are a velvet savoury dream. Allen’s reverence for Indigenous ingredients is apparent, but far from a tokenistic gesture, their curation and sense of balance have clearly been a thoughtful enterprise. Take heed of a creamy Sydney rock oyster from Batemans Bay, for example, which is the third arrival to this elegant soirée, lifted gorgeously by twin vinaigrettes of desert lime and lemon myrtle. 

What comes next is my personal highlight of the night: an egg-shaped dish of macadamia cream topped with bubbles of black caviar. Its resting pool of kelp oil lends a subtle salinity, only taken to more breathtaking heights alongside a glass of honeyed Adelaide Hills riesling – the sommelier’s recommendation. From the fresh, cooling flavours of the beginning of the evening, this chapter marks a seamless transition to silky and seductively rich territory.

Which is really the only suitable way to describe the next dish, too: a smoky marron tail resting in a custard-flecked sauce in all her orange glory. There’s a cheeky element of disguise in Allen’s work, evident in a skinless capsicum which comes glazed in a green nasturtium cloak and looks just like an avocado, but instead conceals treasures of miso-spiked eggplant. A glass of baga from Portugal is another clever pairing, and by now my head is swimming with dopamine.

After another palate cleanser – rockmelon sorbet snowed under a rainbow ‘funfetti’ of nitrogen-frozen native herbs and flowers – the rest of the meal is as dazzling as you’d imagine. A soup of macadamia hiding lamb sweetbreads coats my mouth with intense, rich flavour. Meanwhile, a waiter heats damper over the binchotan, which I then slather with a curl of cultured butter and dip into the creamy dish with delight. A juicy marbled cut of medium rare Blackmore Wagyu concludes the savoury courses, and (unsurprisingly) it’s faultless.

At this point in the evening, I’m introduced to a self-proclaimed turophile who’ll be tailoring my cheese platter. It’s blues for me, all South Australian, and there’s a bit of a struggle to consume this pungent dairy feast in its entirety along with the accoutrements. Nevertheless, after it’s clear I cannot consume more cheese (a rare occurrence, if I dare admit) a waiter swiftly escorts me to a doughnut station in the kitchen. Here, I’m faced with a decision: would I like mine dusted in Davidson plum or strawberry gum? Perhaps this out-of-seat detour is an attempt at making the Vue experience less formal and more hands-on. But I’d suggest it needs some refinement to justify waddling out of my serene reverie and into the restaurant’s near-volcanic hearth. 

Back on my food coma throne a few minutes later, there’s redemption in the form of that famously cloud-like chocolate souffle (arguably Vue’s longest-running dish). This latest iteration oozes billy tea ice cream and is nothing short of magic. So much so that even if you’re bursting at the seams you’ll still finish every last bite. I’m surprised there’s more – but luckily, not too much. Just an Australiana-themed vintage tin of cookies inspired by the Matildas’ success at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, amongst which an upscale version of an Arnott’s mint slice is the undisputed highlight.

In this economic climate, it’d be cheeky not to mention the price tag for such a luxe experience. Cutting to the chase, it’s $360 per person for the chef’s tasting menu – which doesn’t include all the fabulous wines on offer, meaning your bill could easily inch toward the $500 mark. But when you consider that the cost includes a whopping fourteen courses of inventively prepared dishes from a chef at the top of his game (and in a space that makes you feel like you’re at the top of the world), it seems fair. 

If you’re willing to invest and looking to wow someone’s socks off (or simply your own because, hey, self-love), it’s money well spent on what can only be described as a riveting dining experience. Hats off to you, Vue de Monde.

Time Out Melbourne never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

Looking for somewhere for a drink instead? Here are some of our favourite cocktail bars.

Details

Address
Rialto, Level 55
525 Collins St
Melbourne
3000
Opening hours:
Wed-Thu 6pm-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-midnight
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