Opening in 2000, in a quirky terrace on Carlton's Drummond Street, Vue de Monde helped lead Australia's dining scene into the new millennium. It then found a new home in 2011, perched on the 55th floor of the CBD's Rialto building — with a grander culinary offer than its original French bistro roots to match its new sky-high location. The renowned fine-diner is now more than two decades on, and has continued to impress Melburnians and visitors alike with its sweeping city views, striking custom interiors and innovative tasting menu. Now, Vue de Monde is entering a new era after a massive three-month renovation.
First opened by Australian chef Shannon Bennett, the restaurant has managed to remain at the pinnacle of Melbourne's — and Australia's — dining scene, largely in part to the new culinary direction led by young executive chef, Hugh Allen (also the winner of this year's GT Chef of the Year award). Now, the restaurant's most recent refresh ceremoniously embarks a new epoch, with fresh interiors and the same award-winning chef.
Vue de Monde's dining room has tweaked its signature furnishings, with updates to the Ross Didier tables and kangaroo hide table tops by Theo Hassett, as well as increased lighting throughout the space. As for the private dining room, it's had a complete overhaul — think a custom handblown light feature by designer Leisa Wharington; warm timber cladding; and the impressive Vue de Monde artwork Gordon Bennett Notes to Basquiat: Liberty 2000 placed in prime position.
The open kitchen remains, too; however, it now boasts the same Shou Sugi Ban timber cladding now found in the private dining room; a dramatic new tile treatment; and a new pastry section.
But it's not just a cosmetic lift, with the menu also undergoing considerable change during the restaurant's three-month closure.
There are still inflections of Bennett on the 18-plate tasting menu, alongside Hugh Allen innovations that reflect his commitment to Australian provenance: grilled lamb sweetbreads with asparagus and fermented macadamia sauce; padrón peppers filled with heirloom eggplant cooked in wild nasturtium oil, and marron tail slowly grilled with fried native herb paste.
"Taking a few months away from the day-to-day has helped us create what we believe are really special menus… We're looking forward to showing our regulars the changes we've made, but also welcoming new guests to the venues," says Allen in a statement.
This local focus extends to the wine list, comprised of an impressive 2000 bins, showcasing exceptional wines from around the country, as well as from renowned regions globally.
As for Vue's sister bar Lui, it is set to reopen next week, on Wednesday 8 November, with a complete redesign from Melbourne designer Elenberg Fraser. The bar has moved to a new location that harmoniously brings together the eastern and southern wings, plus Lui's capacity has significantly increased. The idea behind the revamp is to honour Australian materials — granite, natural brass, smoked glass and ethically sourced Australian wool bouclé, sheepskin and leather — that create an overall earthy, natural and tonally muted aesthetic.
Lui Bar's food menu has also expanded to include larger snacks such as wagyu ribs, roasted macadamias with saltbush and a lavish caviar service. For cocktails, bar manager Elisabetta Lupi has pulled together a list that champions native ingredients with a sustainable edge.