Posted by - 25 July 2010 - No comments

Vue de Monde: Modern French cooking Down Under

We went to Vue de Monde for lunch with  the AB's friends  Nollan, his French girlfriend Annaise and Pola.  The restaurant is one of the most well known restaurants in Melbourne, and is highly regarded for its Chef Shannon Bennett's original and modern twist on French classics.

When I walk into the restaurant one of the first things that strikes me is the fact is the interior is soo cool it feels a bit try hard.  Sure it ticks the boxes in terms of sleek, modern design, but it somehow feels slightly cliched and unoriginal when compared to the other places I'd visited in Melbourne.
Amuse bouche

Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh as I'd had quite high hopes from the restaurant - if I'm totally honest I'm not sure what I was expecting.   Indeed it's pop art-esque gallery wouldn't look out of place in fashion capitals like New York or indeed London.

The restaurant itself is quite small, but has high white ceilings and is bright and airy which makes it feel a lot larger than it actually is.  To add to the bustling atmosphere, there's an open kitchen which overlooks the dining room.

Baby squid
When we arrive we are ushered into a tiny black box room filled with a few plush Louis Ghost chairs.  It feels like an eternity before we are shown our table.  Perhaps it's to teach us all a lesson because we're all so casually dressed.  A quick survey of the room and everyone is dressed in suits.  As a result the atmosphere lacks any sort of buzz or excitement.   It's all a bit flat and formal, and paradoxically at odds with the image the restaurant is trying to project.  To put it bluntly, if the restaurant was a gallery and the people its objets d'art, then the good stuff must be on loan somewhere.

Braised beef cheek

We all opt for the Menu du Jour, a really reasonable lunch menu at two courses for $55 and three courses for $70 including a glass of wine and sides for the table - bargain, and possibly the best value meal we had in Melbourne.

The AB and I decide to go for two courses and share our starters and dessert, and so do Nolan and Annaise.   Oddly our pick and mix approach means that Annalise and the AB who have ordered a main and dessert for their starters are the only two diners on the table to receive an amuse bouche.  The selection of small bready and meaty bite sized bites were presented to AB and Annaise on rustic board when the rest of the table were served our starters - baby squid and spinach.    The amuse bouche were unmemorable and if it wasn't for the pictures we took, I'd probably forgotten they'd been served.

Our starters on the other hand were a different matter.  Exquisitely presented with splodges of green spinach, the fishy starter looked almost to beautiful to eat.  The squid was perfectly cooked being both moist and tender.  My only complaint was there wasn't enough of it and I was left wanting more after eating the third and final ring. 

Before our mains we're served a refreshing natural yogurt sorbet, elderflower granita and frozen white grape - a nice little touch.   We fair slightly better with our mains - me the trout à la meunière and the AB a wonderfully braised piece of beef cheek served with pureed fig and cherry, and a mini bite size sandwich made out of slices of sweet toasted brioche filled with foie gras. This beef was wonderfully tender and was perfectly complemented by the fig and cherry, but it's the toasted sandwich which won the table's praises.

We finished our meal with the exquisite Cherry Ripe souffle served with small balls of ice cream - a homage to the oldest Australian chocolate bar, hits the mark and serves as the perfect ending to the meal.

Verdict: Vue de Monde looks very cool, and I love the fact that every detail down to pop coloured glasses have been carefully selected to complement the well thought out decor. After all it's the details that maketh the place but somehow it misses the mark for me.  It just lacks the buzz that you expect of a hip and happening atmosphere, which is a shame because its location makes it a fantastic lunch spot.  The food is pretty good too even if the portions are pretty small.

Vue De Monde on Urbanspoon
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