Evening of magnificence – Vue De Monde, Melbourne

An evening of magnificence began with a drink at Lui Bar on level 55 of the Rialto building in Melbourne.

The table, with uninterrupted views of the open kitchen, had a leather top, the cutlery was leaning against gnarled pieces of wood much like chop stick holders and smooth stones had been machined with grooves to hold candles and salt and pepper.  Our leather bucket chairs had the kangaroo fur line their outer side. One could be forgiven for not noticing those details because the view across Melbourne was breathtaking-beautiful.

Before we had even seen a menu, some morsels of food were put in front of us:

  • Oyster
  • Salt cured wallaby
  • Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
  • Peas, pistachio, strawberry

The salt cured wallaby (kangaroo) was prepared at our table. The dish that sound most unusual is the smoked eel with white chocolate and caviar. Who would think of such a combination? Shannon Bennett, that’s who. He has really put his mark on the Australian culinary scene. Back to the smoked eel – it was delectable!  The white chocolate was a subtle thin and crispy shell over each piece of eel that added a hint of sweetness next to the saltiness of the caviar.

Smoked eel with white chocolate and caviar

The peas, pistachio and strawberry was also interesting because it came out initially looking like a soup, but in fact it had a frozen lid that we had to crack through.

Peas, pistachio, strawberry under a frozen lid

It was refreshing and tasted amazing.  I was getting so excited with what was to come.  Hopefully a menu!

Before seeing a menu, we were presented with freshly churned French butter with an array of different breads.  One of my dining companions is gluten intolerant and they happily brought her out some gluten free bread so she could taste the butter.  I had to add salt to the butter as it lacked something, despite being soft and creamy. I also love salt and especially the lovely salt flakes you see in restaurants of this quality.

The waiter did arrive with our menu and we took the conservative option of four-courses at a cost of $150pp.  As you will read on, we had much, much more than four courses. We each had over 11 dishes each!  Ok, some of those were mere tastings, but for what we paid, it was seriously good value for first class execution and produce quality.

Sadly with our conservative menu choice, matching wines were not available. However, the sommelier guided us on which wines by the glass would suit our dish.

The recommended wine for my entree of Greenvale farm Pork, marron, egg cream was a 2011 Henschke ‘Eleanor’s Cottage’ Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Eden Valley, South Australia.  The wine was delicious and I don’t say that about white wine flippantly.  Fresh, slightly buttery balanced with acidity. A lovely drop. The pork belly was amazing.  Delicate, moist, salty set off beautifully next to the sweet marron.  I was in heaven. Really, I was.

Greenvale farm Pork, marron, egg cream

Time for a palate cleanser.  Micro-herbs were presented to each of us in a bowl, to which the waiter poured liquid nitrogen. So dramatic with smoke rising from our bowls as the herbs were snap frozen. We were then given a mortar each to smash and grind the frozen herbs into small pieces.  Fun!  Then a quenelle of lime grapefruit sorbet was placed on top for us to mix with the herb crumbs.  So fresh and, um, cleansing.  Perfect palate cleanser that was fun to put together.

Liquid nitrogen being poured into our palate cleanser

Main course was next. What wine should I have with beef?  Obviously a red. When the 2004 Torbreck ‘The Steading’ Grenache Blend, Gomersal, South Australia was recommended, I was delighted.  Torbreck has a fabulous reputation, deservedly so.  The wine was luscious, smooth, slightly chocoloately, hints of tobacco – I could go on, it was complex and delicious.  I savoured every sip.

The Blackmore beef, nettle, potato was scrumptious. The beef was tender, it just fell apart. The white swirls on top in the photo below are actually sheets of potato. It took me a little while to figure that out because the texture was in between crisp and soft and the shape was nothing like any potato dish I have seen anywhere.  Delicious with an awesome sauce.  More red wine, a little beef – oh yes, foodie heaven for sure!

Blackmore beef, nettle, potato

How excited did we all get when the cheese trolley came around? The smiley Italian waiter explained the different cheeses on offer.  Whilst some of the girls chose what they wanted because they have an aversion to strong blue cheese, I was happy for the choice to be made for me as I love almost all cheese.

Smiley waiter at the cheese trolley

With my four delicious cheeses, I enjoyed the crisp lavash style bread that came with them and a glass of NV Alvear, ‘Vino de Licor’, Moscatel, Morikes de Montilla, Spain.  

Dessert, my favourite course. How was I going to fit it in?  An almost impossible task. The chocolate soufflé was put in front of me and the waiter place a knife in it to create a cavity, to which he poured into cream.  Oh my.  However, on tasting, the dish was not my favourite. I could really taste the egg in the soufflé and no enough chocolate.  I love chocolate and to be honest, would have preferred just a straight block of chocolate!  It was cooked beautifully, but I was so full, I wasn’t going to force myself to eat something that wasn’t transcending me further into food heaven.

Petit fours came out next – what more food?! This was not on the menu, but a cute touch to finish the evening.  The eucalyptus leaves made out of pink musk invoked childhood memories of eating musk sticks.  I also remembered that I didn’t really like them when I was seven years old, and not much has changed since. The mini lamingtons were cute and tasty and the two-up gums were clever but not that tasty.

After our last course, we were given a tour of the kitchen.  Of course I spotted a couple of thermomixes among the appliances. We were shown the commercial vats that were cooking stock for the next day, the chill freezer, and the private dining room. What a treat!

All in all, we had a brilliant night.  Four of us girls felt fussed over by the waiters who were very patient with our constant questions about the food, the wine, and requests for more bread.

Our four course meal was really an 11-course journey into foodie heaven.  And not to forget the bread.  What we thought would be a two hour meal was a four and half hour night of magnificence.

Thanks Holly Hands, Anu Malaviya, and Jessica Wyld for a great night out in one of Melbourne’s top restaurants.

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FACT FILE

Vue de Monde
Level 55, Rialto Tower
525 Collins Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 03 9691 3888
E: vuedemonde@vuedemonde.com.au

Open for dinner Monday to Saturday, lunch Tuesday to Friday and Sundays. Bookings essential.

Vue de Monde on Urbanspoon

Please can I have some Moore?

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Moore & Moore Café is situated in the heritage listed Moores Building in Fremantle, Western Australia. It’s decorated with odd yet funky kitsch furniture and bizarre light fittings. The Café is also a gallery.

The breakfast menu is great and had interesting choices like 7-grain toast with avocado or home made baked beans with rocket and cherry tomatoes which is what I had. It was delicious!

Best of all, their coffee is gooood.

It’s a real “Freo” experience.

FACT FILE

Moore & Moore Café
46 Henry St, Fremantle WA 6160
T: 08 9335 8825
http://www.mooreandmoorecafe.com

Moore & Moore on Urbanspoon

Lui Bar, Vue De Monde, Melbourne – bar review

Wow, what a treat! The evening of magnificence started with a drink at the oh-so-posh Lui Bar. The well-dressed staff were polite yet chatty and gave advice and recommendations as to what cocktails we might after quizzing us on our tastes.

The decor was stunning – old school psychiatrists couches clad in leather, leather bucket chairs with kangaroo fur outers, antique silver tray tables, and leather covered round foot stools. A lot of wood and a lot of leather.  However, I was a bit distracted by the VIEW of Melbourne from the 55fth floor of the Rialto building. With a glorious sunset backlighting the view of the city out to the bay, the only way it can be described is ah-mazing!

The cocktail menu was extensive and contained interesting blends as well as the trusted favourites. I was interested to see a Margaret River Gin listed under the Australian Gins heading.  Apparently it is a new distillery and has just come into stock. It was lovely and smooth – not at all harsh like some of the mass-produced cheaper brands.  Just lovely.

After selecting our drinks, we settled back and enjoyed our luscious surroundings and soaked up the view.

Drinks at Lui Bar

After an hour, our reservation at restaurant Vue De Monde was ready.  Yippee!  My taste buds were in for a extra special treat and I was super excited.

FACT FILE 

The Lui Bar 
Level 55, Rialto
525 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
E : vuedemonde@vuedemonde.com.au

Open every day. Check website for times.

The Lui Bar on Urbanspoon

Cape Lodge, Margaret River, Western Australia

Conde Naste Traveller magazine voted Cape Lodge as one of the top ten boutique hotels in the world in 2011 and 2012 and it’s easy to see why.  It is fine dining done with understated elegance.  Tables are nicely spaced apart, the wait staff are well briefed and carry out their duties like European professionals, and the restaurant is beautifully appointed with views over a little lake (aka a dam).

Head Chef Tony Howell changes the menu daily to reflect the fresh produce he has been able to source that day.  It is magnificent for dinner and breakfast. This is a dining experience no foodie would want to miss.

This terrific clip, put together by Tourism Western Australia, showcases Cape Lodge’s restaurant and head chef Tony Howell.

I could eat here every day and never grow tired of it.  Never ever. Although I’m not sure I’d be a able to fund that – it is pricey, but for what you get, it is extremely good value. Especially breakfast.

It’s no surprise that world’s best chefs are all staying at Cape Lodge during the Margaret River Gourmet Escape that is coming up.

FACT FILE

Cape Lodge
3341 Caves Road, Yallingup Western Australia.
Tel: +61 8 9755 6311
Stay@CapeLodge.com.au

Restaurant is open every day for breakfast and dinner. Bookings essential.

 
Cape Lodge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

InContro, South Perth – review

Could InContro be a candidate for my new favourite restaurant in Perth?

This beautiful South Perth restaurant offers not only superb food, but uninterrupted sublime  city views across the Swan River.  The views are hard to beat.

Inside the restaurant at the view of the city beyond

The setting has an air of sophistication, the waiters are well versed, some donning French accents, and the napery, glassware and cutlery are what one would expect in a fine dining restaurants.  It’s all lovely.

It not just about the views though is it? It’s about the food.  InContro, which means “meeting” in Italian, offers first class Mediterranean style cuisine.  You can dine on the ‘piccolo’ menu – much like tasting plates or Italian tapas, the regular menu, or mix it up like we did and choose from both.

As one comes to expect when dining at a fantastic restaurant in Perth, it ain’t cheap.  No sir.  But for a special occasion, it is seriously worth splashing out for a food experience at InContro.

Leo, Katie, Matthew and John

Our family was celebrating a special occasion, Zorba‘s mother’s 70th birthday.  She is as fit as a fiddle and enjoys nothing more than sharing a meal with her family. Dining with us was Zorba’s sister Marnie and her triplet boys, Leo, John and Matthew, who are seven years old.  There is never any hesitation taking the boys out for dinner with us because they are nearly always well behaved in restaurants and thanks to their Greek and Italian heritage, they love food and eat everything!

Pizza Margherita

As most seven year olds are starving by 5pm, you can imagine how famished the boys were at 6.30pm. We ordered a couple of fresh pizzas for them straight away.  It was enjoyed by Masters Seven with gusto!

Entree was a selection from the piccolo menu; zucchini flowers stuffed with salmon mousse, Rottnest scallops and king fish carpaccio.  It was presented beautifully on a tiered  tray. I could not fault anything, simply beautifully cooked, delicious flavours, and the perfect way to start dinner. The zucchini flowers were my favourite – crispy on the outside, smooth mousse on the inside. YUM! I could have eaten a whole plate of those!

Zucchini flowers

How good do these dishes look?!  Are you hungry yet?

Rottnest Scallops

For main course, we decided to choose our own.  I couldn’t go past the Turkish Sticky Black Angus Short Rib ($45).  Marnie had Linley Valley Pork Belly Vanilla Pear Pomegranate ($36), Zorba and Katie both had Duck Confit Cauliflower Puree Quince Salad ($38).

Turkish Sticky Black Angus Short Rib

My beef rib was nothing short of sensational. Slightly sweet, oh-so sticky, rich with smoky undertones, and the meat was so tender, sliding away from the bone with just the gentlest nudge from my fork.  I have never had a beef rib as good as this one – and that’s a big call.   Whilst expensive, it was a decent sized serve which is just as well or I would not have shared any of it!  The boys all agreed that it was the dish of the night.

Marnie loved her pork and really enjoyed the pomegranate salad.  Katie and Zorba seemed to thoroughly enjoy their mains as well.  To accompanying mains, we had Albany asparagus and shaved fennel pear with candied walnut salad.

Finalmente!  Dessert time.  The seven year old nephews were chomping at the bit waiting for dessert, especially once they heard that fairy floss was a feature.

We all had the Eaton Mess with Fairy Floss and ordered some desserts from the piccolo menu to share. A two-course dessert – now that’s my style of eating!

Eaton mess with floss

The wine list was fairly extensive, but on the high end of pricey.  We shared a bottle of bubbles, a prosecco, to start ($70) and then went for one of the cheapest shiraz blends on the menu on advice from the waitress. I love my red wine but didn’t want to spend upwards of $90 for a decent drop. The waitress’ recommendation was perfect.  The 2010 Sons of Eden shiraz blend ($65) was a beautiful smooth easy drinking red.

The only other time I have been to InContro was for a friend’s wedding late last year.  For a function, it was the best food I’ve ever had. I was excited to finally be going back there again.  And it didn’t disappoint.

It would be hard to imagine anyone being disappointed dining at InContro. It is first class in every sense and really worth splashing out for for a special occasion.  Impressive and highly recommended.

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FACT FILE

InContro
79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WA 6151
Tel. 08 9474 5566

Open Lunch and Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

InContro on Urbanspoon

Food Wine Sleep

Must Wine Bar, Perth

Must Wine Bar in Perth has been a staple  on the city’s “top ten best restaurants list” since it opened late 2001, and for good reason.  Renowned Chef Russell Blaikie’s menu is influenced by the contemporary French bistro and he changes the menu with the seasons.  Blaikie is an avid fan of sourcing local produce such as Torbay Asparagus from the Great Southern Region of WA (think Albany), Scallops from Rottnest Island, Plantagenent Pork from the South West of the State, and ‘Over the Moon’ Organic Feta from Albany. The result?  Simply outstanding food.

Choosing what to have is never an easy choice at Must as it all sounds so deliciously tempting.  We opted for three starters and then would wait and see if there was any room left in our tummies for more.

Our meal started with complimentary (thanks!) chicken liver parfait, grenache jelly and crunchy sliced baguette.  The parfait was rich, smooth, and very moorish.

A special on the menu was ceviche of half shell Rottenst scallops compressed watermelon and citrus salad. The freshness of the watermelon and citrus complemented the scallop and the shaved fennel topping added a crunchy texture and together, it was like eating  a summer’s day, so fresh and light.  The perfect starter to get the taste buds warmed up.

Ceviche of Rottnest Scallops 

The twice-baked goats cheese soufflé with roast red pepper coulis was a marriage made in heaven and beautifully presented. Sharing this dish was difficult!

Twice baked goats cheese soufflé

Angel hair pasta tossed with Blue Manna crab, tomato, chilli, basil, cream and 34 Degrees South Organic Olive Oil from Margaret River is a constant on the menu. It is a crowd favourite and didn’t disappoint my dinner guest who ate every late morsel.

Angel hair pasta with Blue Manna crab

I couldn’t stop thinking about a recommendation the waitress gave us for a main that featured on the specials menu, Plantagenent Pork Plate with crispy pork jowl, prosciutto wrapped fillet, cauliflower purée, baby carrot, apple salad and jus. When the waitress passed our table, I stopped her and ordered it.  She gave me a wry smile as if to say, “good choice, you are going to love it!”. She was right. We did love it!  The crackling was crispy, salty, and after the first few crunches, it just melted away on my tongue.  The pork was tender and juicy, the shredded apple salad was fresh and crisp, cleansing the palate, but what was really outstanding was the just.  I would have liked a glass of that to drink it was that good!

Plantagenent pork plate

Could we fit in dessert?  No, not really, but we’d give it a try anyway.  My dinner guest loved the sound of the warm chocolate moelleux, white chocolate ice cream.  We learned that a moelleux is another fancy word for fondant, or a small chocolate cake with a gooey chocolately centre.  The moelleux was floating on a bed of delicious vanilla bean custard and topped with a house made white chocolate ball of ice cream.  Rich, sweet, and delicious.

Warm chocolate moelleux

The wine list is as impressive as the food and features over 500 wines from around the world with a good selection of  Italian and French varietals.  There was also a good selections of wines by the glass and I was delighted to see a Fraser Gallop Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 offered by the glass – one of Margaret River’s premium wineries, in my opinion.  Only one Western Australian chardonnay from the award-winning Lenton Brae Estate was offered by the glass.

On a Tuesday night, Must Wine Bar  was almost  full, including a couple of tables of well-girthed middle-aged types that obviously love to eat.  Not surprising really when some of the best food in the city is on offer.

Must Winebar on Urbanspoon

FACT FILE

Must Wine Bar, 516 Beaufort St, Highgate WA 6003
Tel: 08 9328 8255

Open seven days per week from 12pm til late.


Food Wine Sleep