You may have seen the acclaimed Australian Executive Chef Shannon Bennett earlier this year and that’s because his appeared on MasterChef Australia with his mouth watering and nasty surprise: the theatrical warm chocolate and orange mousse from Bistro Vue. Bennett who is one of the world’s most talented chef at his restaurant Vue De Monde is widely recognized as one of Australia’s top 100 fine dining venues and most impressively it is situated at level 55 of Melbourne’s iconic Rialto building.
For a price tag of $200-250 per person for the gastronomes menu and a commitment to have the wine pairing as well, ranging from $30+ per glass is only appropriate. Ahh, this review is going to be long because the food is too good. Continue reading and you may drool. Just a little as each dish really plays on your mind.
We start off with compressed apple crisps with macadamia pureé. The crisps were a perfect crunch. It contained a nutty and sugary taste that seemed like a crime to eat with the compressed macadamia puree being intense. You’ll be nuts not to eat this because it almost tasted somewhat like Kettle chips, but only in a “healthier” form.
As far as first impression goes, two thumbs up.
Compressed apple crisps & macadamia pureé
From this point onward, the menu was on fast-forward mode.
With no menu in front of me, Vue De Monde decides to keep it all mysterious or perhaps YOLO style. Our next snack was the pine smoked salmon pearls. I had absolutely no regret eating the colourful mini vegetable garden on a plate with that heavenly intense burst of flavour from the salmon pearls. It was impossibly difficult to pretend I didn’t like this dish.
Middle: Pine smoked salmon pearls
I may have studded when I devoured the CANDY COATED smoked eel with a bit of caviar sprinkled on top and tucked underneath, white chocolate. I had immense fear this would vanish quickly and I was right. I enjoyed the savoury flavour and light candy crunch, but what was mind-blowing was that delightful buttery taste coming from the chocolate. I completely lost my mind…
Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
Next on the entrée menu the BBQ lamb heart and duck tongue with a dash of pepper. I was utterly shocked to see these quirky parts of the animal in the menu, but that didn’t stop me from eating it. I wasn’t expecting this to be super impressive with that generous amount of caramelisation and light smokey smell, but after one bite it changed my perspective. I loved it. To accompany these BBQ meat I had to order a glass of NV Charles Heidsieck ‘Brut Reserve’. This bubbly had its own personality with fresh floral notes.
Top right to bottom right: BBQ lamb hearts, Duck tongue w mountain pepper
Left: NV Charles Heidsieck ‘Brut Reserve’, Reims, France
Soon after that oysters arrived with a citrus taste. They were fresh and creamy, just the way I like it, classic and simple.
Just when I was so convinced that the snacks were over, here comes a massive piece of Himalayan pink salt rock and as a bonus we get front seats watching thick slices of salt-cured Flinders Island wallaby being rolled up at our table.
Prepared at the table
The wallaby was pretty damn good with a drop of green herb puree. It almost had the same texture as a tuna sashimi, but slightly tougher and leaner. But yeah more of the wallaby would’ve been good because everything tastes better with pink salt rock.
Salt cured wallaby
Vue De Monde’s open kitchen
At this point I realise that each of those rocks were hand-crafted.
Felt like I was eating with the Royal Family with these cutlery.
Now can we start on the first course? 😀 😀
The Spanish mackerel with cylinder potato filled with chicken puree and on top a teaspoon of caviar was simply perfect. The square piece of fish was fresh and succulent. My goodness the light crust was enough for a crunch but not enough to take over the entire dish. Now the quince sauce offered a sweet balance and tied together beautifully with the thinly sliced potato.
Spanish mackerel, potato, chicken, caviar
I had no clue where the chef came from, but I was so excited to watch first-hand what he was preparing for me next. The chef explains to us that we are having Blackmore wagyu.
I know I am having meat…
Fast-forward a minute later and it’s just oh so right watching wagyu being cooked like that. VDM knows how to serve me well. Medium rare please chef.
Blackmore Wagyu “steak & onions”
So okay, yes I was drawn to this dish and it wasn’t just because VDM served wagyu…*rolls eyes*. I hearted that meat with the sauce which had the right amount of tenderness and were balanced out with the smoky scent in the air with a hint of pepper. Besides that piece of meat the garden greens looked astonishing.
Adding the final touches
Baby I lost my breathe at my first bite of the wagyu. I just couldn’t keep up after that. I particularly liked the texture and I wish I could have a larger portion.
Medium rare is just the way I like my meat
Not sure if you can handle this but this has got to be the best theatre experience I have ever had for pallet cleansing. You can’t go wrong with a bit of science especially when it’s liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen was poured into a bed of wood sorrell and this instantly snap-freeze the ingredients.
Cucumber, wood sorrel
We were then asked to pound into fine pieces then a scoop of cucumber sorbet was spooned in. The result was freaken astonishing. Definitely super refreshing and no signs of it being tooth achingly. This dish was amazing and would return for that alone.
Cucumber, wood sorrel
The kitchen sent us a small black leather pouch and in it contained a warm loaf of sour dough bread and to accompany hand churned butter. Somehow this just made my soul feel all fuzzy. I had no regrets covering my slice of bread with butter, NO REGRETS! As expected the butter was silky soft.
Sour dough and house made butter
Excuse me but I think there seems to be a mistake. I didn’t order breakfast. In continuation of this mysterious menu, we were served with eggs on toast! Oh how I cannot resist this, especially when you can serve it with a glass of 2006 Louis Roederer Cristal champagne. I think this is called “Champagne Breakfast“. And that kids is how VDM will spoil you for breakfast.
This dish was TOP of my list at VDM because the textures were incredible and satisfied my tastebuds. That duck yolk and drizzle of truffle sauce did not disappoint. The crunch of the saltbush plus paper thin toast had my head spinning. It’s crazy rich, but you will not reach the overwhelmingly sick stage. Round 2, thanks!
Duck yolk, pear, truffle
OOOOZY!!! Oh how I love a good runny yolk, soooooo creamy and so heavenly deeeeeeeelicious! Gotta love me some calories. Get that calorie action game face on!!!!
I don’t think you understand…this duck yolk belongs to me.
Our next course was the three way marron. I had high hopes for this and I am glad it delivered. And while you are living the high life you might as well sneak in a glass of 2013 Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Paul Pernot. This wine maintains a great balance between fresh citrus notes and the lively acidity.
Three Way Marron
The marron was super juicy, like, fully JUICY! I tell you this course was just pretty darn addictive. I smothered the marron into the super silky brown butter like full on. This baby marron has got to be right up there on my favourite fine dining course ever! I was pleasantly surprised how well the three way marron married so well together.
Top left to bottom left: Brown butter, Marron & Marzipan
You know what’s perfect about this marron sandwich? EVERYTHING! Saving the best to last was an excellent idea. Not a single crumb was left behind and we all know that’s a really good sign. This delicate piece of sandwich required to be eaten with the hands and there may have been some finger-licking in between, so be prepared.
OH NO! Savoury course is almost over and to be frankly honest, food coma had already been activated, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating the next dish. Ox tongue with beetroot and bone marrow sure opened new doors of discovering something adventurous. Greeted with a white powdered creme fraiche that visually looked dry but as soon as it lands on your tongue it instantly melted like a snowman that was under the sun.
Ox tongue, beetroot, bone marrow
I had a bit of trouble trying to find the ox tongue but as soon as you scoop a tiny portion into your mouth there’s an enormous amount of meaty, creamy flavour laced with shreds of beetroot. Add a glass of 2010 Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese and you get a remarkable flavour.
Can you spot where the ox tongue?
By now I mentally imagined I had gotten up and walked off the calories that I just digested. I did say mentally. Teehee. Helllllo butternut with sunflowers and passionfruit. This isn’t your ordinary pallet cleanser as I never heard these combinations before. Crunchy crushed sunflowers says howdy to my teeth with burst after burst of butternut and passionfruit flavour.
Butternut squash, sunflower seeds, passionfruit
They tasted like summer with the fresh sweet fruity taste of the passionfruit. Sydney needs more of these nice light dessert to end the meal with.
A ball of happiness
Spotted the cheese trolley!!! Say CHEEEEEESE.
I should have probably invested in 15 pairs of granny pants because I felt so overweight that I would require someone to roll me out of here. The goat’s milk with blueberries and fennel was welcomed to our table. Topped with sugary crystal that you could easily break with a spoon and the texture was sooooo fine with the similarity of a panna cotta times creme brulee that was served cold.
Goat’s milk, blueberries, fennel
How can you decline chocolate soufflé when you get to witness the icing in action on your table? This dusting was going on for a solid 10 seconds. Shame it had to stop…
DARK Chocolate soufflé
BELLY SATISFYING souffle I have come across. I was not quite sure how I managed to finish this dessert but I did. It was light and fluffy with a knock in the face dark chocolate and an oozy molten chocolate centre.
To celebrate the end of our degustation a selection of petit-fours arrived. Get ready to BREATHE HEAVY. It’s nothing you’ve seen before. These salted caramel chocolate seashells had me eyes tripping. With sprinkled salt added to them I honestly couldn’t spot which one was the edible ones. AHHH sugar gods why weren’t the rest of those shells be made out of chocolate?!
salted caramel chocolate seashells
We were offered jelly pennies and I liked the novelty but the taste wasn’t how I pictured. There’s a teeny wenny sign of alcoholic flavour but hardly noticeable, with a hint of sweetness made with it.
Have you ever had menthol lollipops? For me this was my first time ever and there was rarely any actual menthol flavour, which is alright for me. Served frosted I digged the presentation more then the flavour. It looked incredibly kawaii. I seriously thought it was a cherry. VDM fooled me again! *applause*
The famous cherry lamington was impressive. I can’t describe how wrong was I to believe yet again what you see is not what you get. This lamington was leaning towards a mousse cake and that cherry brings everything all together.
ZOMG! Our degustation is finally over. Before I left the VDM building to head straight to the airport and catch my next flight back to Sydney, we were given a mini tour and we had to stop here to look at this spectacular view.
This is what the view looks like at Vue De Monde.
Yeah we are on level 55!!!
I seriously didn’t expect to visit Vue De Monde in my final hours in Melbourne. Did I mention I ran straight to the airport to catch my next flight home to Sydney after eating this degustation. I now know the meaning of gastronome. I am belly satisfied 😀 😀 😀
Woo-hoo I can finally tick this off my bucket list!!!!
Just when the fat foodie gang were about to walk out of there, we were given a really awesome surprise package for the “next day”. It’s hard to forget Vue De Monde when they shower you with more food on your way out.
What I truly loved about this experience was the creativity for every single dish that was served to us, the exquisite service and food combined with high theatre. OH and the goodie bag on my way out, which I highly recommend every other fine-dining places should have because adults still act like kids and this big kid loves little surprises, especially when it contains food.
“For the next day” – brioche, honey, digestives, granola & tea
Photos by Vanny Tang
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In Sydney, dessert playgrounds can be hard to find at night. Luckily last Wednesday, Shangri-La Hotel’s executive pastry chef Anna Polyviou gave over 500 hundred sugared up guest the opportunity to discover sweets like never before. It was one funky dessert pop-up event located right inside the five-star luxury hotel, Shangri-La Sydney’s Grand Ballroom. We were treated to street-market style set up with disco lighting and a DJ playing night-club music throughout the evening.
For $55 per ticket which includes 10 tokens and the opportunity to go hard out for all things sweet, I’d say it’s surprisingly worth it! Dedication to sweets is a serious matter and what makes this event so Willy Wonka like is inviting friends along. Special guests like the unconquerable Adriano Zumbo, Tim Clark from Cacao, Kirsten Tibballs from Savour School, Bernard Chu and Yen Yee from Melbourne’s LuxBite and off course Shangri-La hotel’s pastry star, Anna Polyviou.
What’s your favourite Zumbaron flavour? Adriano Zumbo stall.
Sweet Street event showcased the best treats and in between our splendid sweet-tooth madness, prizes from KitchenAid and dance competition was all happening under the one roof.
Scrumdiddilyumpshus Éclairs from Cacao Lab – Tim Clark
Selfie time with the BOSSES from N2 Extrem Gelato and LuxBite before the event. No biggie!!!
Heaven for lovers of chocolate, this extraordinary handmade chocolate garden is completely edible. Unfortunately Kirsten Tibballs display wasn’t for us to eat. However to accommodate, she was selling one stunning chocolate goodie bag for 1 token a bag.
Gigantic chocolate mushroom from Savour School
Chocolates and painted butterflies that’s also edible is the perfect gift combination to win my heart. This has got to be one of the delicious Chocolate Dessert Garden for your next dinner party that will leave your guests awe-struck. If only I knew how to grow and maintain my own chocolate garden.
Mother nature has turned into CHOCOLATE!!! – Savour School
A bag of awesome chocolate treats from Savour School (1 token)
Let’s see what Anna Polyviou stall has got for us hungry sweet tooth.
Anna’s Taste Test Donut was inspired by Sydney’s Hartsyard chef Andy Bowdy to create a CRAZY doughnut-flavoured ice cream. I think this may be the next trend for Sydney.
Doesn’t this remind you of The Simpsons cartoon donut?
I can never ever get past the Passionfruit Posset with seasonal tropical fruit compote-garnished with mango pearls. An incredibly refreshing fruity treat! Served in a petite cylinder cup. For a moment your mind may wander off to a tropical island as the pearls offer a nice burst of mango flavour.
Passionfruit posset and tropical fruit (1 token)
Donuts get in ma belly!!!
Berries and vanilla panna cotta (1 token)
Bar tender from Blu Bar on 36 cocktail bar
For the people who fancied a nice adult beverage, Blu Bar on 36 cocktail bar offered only one type of cocktail-Spydah. It included tonka bean infused with rum, banana liquor, ginger beer and a scoop of ice-cream. The cocktail name sort of makes our skin crawl, but you’ll feel pretty festive after downing it.
Spydah (2 tokens)
Savoury option for the night was supplied by Shangri-La and that too was another corner no one missed out on. My favourite was the Shredded pork salad as the meat was supreme in taste and it was so freaken tender.
Don’t go pigging out tonight, ok? *Oink*
Shredded pork salad (1 token)
There is always a reason why Anna decided to abduct the lolly bag man from his Luxbite pastry lab in Melbourne. You’re properly wondering why? [Please continue reading…]
Concentration is the key to making eye-popping ice-creams at N2 Extreme Gelato.
So I’ll get straight to it and say the LIMITED EDITION ‘lollybag burger‘-chocolate brioche buns that was held together by an ENORMOUS scoop of lemon gelato plus a ganache, made from melted Redskin candies, in place of a the ordinary ‘tomato sauce’. From the top 100 & 1000s charcoal brioche bun with confit lemon popping candy, musk whipped cream, mandarin and eucalyptus gelato, freckles spread and served with a syringe full of injectable liquefied redskin candies.
Limited edition: Lolly Bag Burger (2 tokens)
Nitrogen frozen gelato was also on offer with Ferrero Rocher that contained chocolate coated rice bubbles, chocolate and hazelnut gelato, hazelnuts and just for the stack of it why not serve it with a syringe full of injectable melted chocolate.
Ferrero Reveal (1 token)
Min Chuan Chai from N2 Extreme Gelato
Just right next door to N2 Extreme Gelato, Bernard Chu and Yen Yee of Lux Bite Melbourne decided to tart things up. This stall showcase new flavours such as lavender, blueberry and vanilla and tarts. All tarts were SOLD OUT before 8:10pm and I was extremely happy I somehow managed to sample all three flavours.
Endless Love is LuxBite’s popular dessert, inspired by Pierre Hermes Ispahan. This tart includes rose and lychee ganache filled, topped with fresh raspberries and silver to garnish. Next, Sood Tee Ruk is a happy ending…that Luxbite are giving lemon meringue tart a Thai twist. This tart includes Kalamansi lime curd with jackfruit, longan, chilli, salt, meringue, kaffir lime sherbet.
For the final tart, we had blueberry tart that’s filled with Heilala vanilla rice pudding and hazelnut praline cream, topped with fresh blueberries and chunks of hazelnut.
Assortment of tarts from LuxBite.
Great catching up with my Melbourne friends Bernard and Yen at LuxBite.
Spicy Lamb and Beef skewers (1 token each)
Papaya salad (1 token)
Pork salad (1 token)
Sweet as! The Éclairs from Cacao Lab were rendered in new ways, including Hot Choc Dog and deep-frying. Starting from left to right we have:
Caipirinha-Tangy lime creme with brown sugar smash and Cachaca boost
Hot Choc Dog containing Chocolate mousse, raspberry gel and say whaat? grated ‘chocolate’ cheese.
Pop Choc with 66% dark chocolate, pop rocks and rice puffs
Éclairs from Cacao Lab – Tim Clark (1 token each)
Delicate eclairs in the deep-fried coconut version.
Caipirinha-Tangy lime creme with brown sugar smash and Cachaca boost (1 token)
Hot Choc Dog Éclair (1 token)
Move over soft serve because Anna’s parfait yoghurt with a chunky centre is the NEW THING. Yoghurt ice-cream has never looked so pretty before, until now. It’s only appropriate to eat this whilst watching TV. This finger-licking parfait ice-cream yoghurt attached on a wooden popsicle stick topped with crunchy caramel popcorn. A splendid way to bring the Sweet Street to an end.
Mag-Anna’s Salted Caramel Popcorn (1 token)
The Strawberry Yoghurt was an absolutely sinful ice-cream. I was really fascinated with how adorable this yoghurt was. In my opinion a sensational rollicking dessert!
Mag-Anna’s Strawberry Yoghurt (1 token)
Dedicated to only serve sweets, Anna has been recongnised for her skills in the pastry kitchen. She is the brainchild behind Sweet Street and is one of the founders of the Sydney Pastry Chef Club. Together with Adriano Zumbo, Min Chuan Chai of N2 Nitrogen Gelato, Bernard Chu and Yen Yee of Lux Bite, Tim Clark of Cacao Lab, and Kirsten Tibballs of Savour Chocolate and Patisserie, they are unstoppable. This event is basically your ideal childhood birthday party for all the GROWN UPS.
Anna and friends at Sweet Street.
Photos by Vanny Tang
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