Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce. Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback, comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.

MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace

MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde

BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am

Happy eating,

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Vue de monde: as good as it gets
I could easily go on for hours reliving the joys of eating at Vue de monde. Instead I'm taking the easy option and going to make it simple by saying that this is Melbourne's best restaurant. The service is amazing, the setting like no other and the food and experience in general largely transports you to another world. Everything about Vue de monde is world class and completely refined. I have eaten at numerous 3-hat restaurants accross Australia over the years and Vue remains my number one. The food is highly creative and their presentations are ever-evolving. If you haven't been to Vue de monde salivate over the pictures and descriptions, save some dollars (or get a credit-limit increase cos it certainly aint cheap) and get your backside down there to see why this is Melbourne's best restaurant.

Here's a summary of one of my recent meals at Vue.

Amuse Bouche: Pea and jamon soup with a jamon tartare served with a confit quail yolk on a lettuce raft. A classy way to tickle the tastebuds.

Jicama, braised abalone and crab salad with yuzu noodle and Sterling caviar. A very luxurious dish, carefully presented so each element can be enjoyed.

Linguini cooked in cep stock served with freshly shaved Manjimup truffle. In the mood for truffles I am presnted with this duo. A perfect linguini dish, finished with our exquisite Western Australian Manjimup truffles, dug up just days earlier. And a risoni of sorts, with fresh truffle gratings and some jellied cep spots.

French toast, green apple purée and foie gras flavoured with eight spice and jamon Serrano Gran Reserva. Another indulgence. The idea being to re-construct the elements, making little sandwiches. Fantastic fun.

Poached coral trout with spring onion, parsley purée, mandarin and spices. A lighter dish: this delicate poached fish was just perfect; with numerous condiments allowing one to enjoy the course in a number of different ways.

Poached breast and confit leg of chicken with handmade Brussels sprouts and mushroom reduction. Not one of the standout dishes: rather a good, clever chicken presentation. The "crackling" and brussels sprouts are very clever though - a reconstruction idea where a creamy brussels sprout filling is wrapped with the outer leaves making them look like the real thing. The crackling idea is also a bit of fun, and the chicken is well cooked but overall the dish does not excite me.

Poached loin of hare with a garlic purée, chestnut, yeast air and bread lattice. I'm lucky to be presented with this rare-breed hare dish towards the end of hare-season. The delicate meat is a joy to eat, just a shame the portion is so very small.

Four textures of beef, checkerboard of white polenta and beef shin, crispy chilli intercostal, confit of sirloin and flank with a pumpkin and yuzu stuffed baby squash. To end the meal I insist upon some good wagyu and am presented with this creative dish of grade 9+ Blackmore's wagyu done 4-ways. Each presentation has its own texture; the chilli intercostal not working so great for me tasting slightly overcooked. The other portions: a simple showcase of some rather special meat.

The meal is concluded with a selection of miniature teacakes. Scaled down from previous heights to more appropriate proportions this selection of petits fours includes a campari panacotta of sorts, a miniature meringue and a chocolate-coated raspberry sorbet sphere, providing a perfect end to a faultless evening.

Whilst I certainly have not visited them all I think that Vue de monde is probably Melbourne's best and most creative dining room. Dinner at Vue is a special experience and well worth the month or so you may have to wait for table. If you can think of a better place to eat in Melbourne I definitely want to know about it.

Vue de monde has been elevated back to three hat status in the 2009 Age Good Food Guide receiving a score of 18.5 out of 20.

MY RATING: 19.5/20 - Food 9.5/10 Service 5/5 Ambience 5/5 - A near perfect dining experience.

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  posted at 7:17 PM  

Friday, September 26, 2008
The Point - Albert Park
The Point is a restaurant, which certainly has a lot going for it. A great location with some of the most picturesque views in Melbourne, overlooking Albert Park lake. The views however are certainly not the only drawcard: the amazing food, stellar wine list and polite, professional service all make The Point one of Melbourne's premier dining destinations.

On Thursday night I dined at The Point for the first time and was mighty impressed with the entire experience. Upon arrival I am promptly presented with iced water, rather than being pressured into buying still or sparkling - something that should be standard. The room itself is very welcoming: temperature set to a pleasant level; a smart, modern dining room with nicely dressed tables and stunning views over Albert Park lake. Attention to detail is high. One comes to appreciate the fact that linen has been pressed and that stemware and crockery are of a high quality including steak knives by Laguiole. The fine dining elements all exist at The Point with amuse bouches and gueles provided as standard, all in an environment that is casual and classy at the same time. A mixed crowd of suits, alongside yuppies in jeans and thongs: everyone seems to fit in.

The service team is also a mixed bunch of young and old and they do a good job of guiding guests throughout the evening and ensuring that the experience is a good one. There is very little for one to quibble about: an observation however that the slick silver service standards are not completely universal across all staff. Skimming the place over with a fine toothcomb I did notice expensive wine being poured at a nearby table with the label being covered during service and without twisting at the end resulting in drippage. Little things that could be perfected amongst all staff, particularly when most are getting it right. Credit must also be paid for the rather impeccable timing with the wait staff personalising service and ensuring a leisurely dining experience with each course arriving at just the right moment: something that I appreciate is not always easy to control.

Moving onto the food there is much to be said. The menu reads very well and everything I tried certainly lived up to my expectations. Throughout the evening warm crusty bread rolls and good olive oil are provided, and to whet the palette a refreshing ceviche is offered as an amuse, which showcases the kitchens ability to meld fresh flavours together with a light touch.
Amuse Bouche: Salmon and Marron ceviche, with fresh blood orange and salmon pearls.

Onto entrees I decide upon one of the lighter sounding options: a spanner crab tortellini assortment, which does not disappoint. On the plate we have a perfect tortelli cylinder filled with a smooth spanner crab farce, coupled with two plump scallops, the freshness of which cannot be understated along with some steamed greens, salmon pearls, fresh lemon balm (a subtle mint-like herb) and a light crayfish scented foam. The plate is finished with a light lemon oil that provides another flavour dimension to the dish and a slight tangy contrast. Highly successful.
Spanner Crab Tortellini, seared scallops, crayfish air and baby lemon balm ($24).
To drink: 2007 Sancerre Le Pierrier – Loire Valley ($14/gl)

For mains The Point has a good variety of meat and seafood, but it is the selection of steaks that they are most famous for. At the upstairs entrance to the dining room a display case exists, showcasing each of the beef cuts on offer for the diners' inspection. They all look great and with an individual choice proving tough I opt for the Beef Tasting plate, which provides a generous sampling of five of their best. The top of the plate houses Grade 8 300-day grain fed wagyu porterhouse slices from Yambinya, NSW. The wagyu has been finished with a sweet red wine jus and is topped with some fried onion crisps. The unmistakable meatiness and gelatinous texture of wagyu immediately comes across and it is amongst some of the best I have tried; cooked and rested to a perfect medium rare.
Across the plate lie four other cuts of beef. From left to right sit: pasture fed eye fillet from King Island and porterhouse from Longford, Tasmania then grain fed eye fillet and porterhouse from Yambinya. Each of the cuts has its own flavour and texture. The eye fillet with its amazing tenderness and the porterhouse with its distinct meaty flavour. As an observation I am somewhat surprised that the grain fed beef proves superior to the pasture fed. The colour, flavour and tenderness all reign supreme; particularly with the porterhouse, where the grass fed cut lacks the robust flavour and softer texture of its grain fed counterpart. The beef is served with a small presentation of crisp coleslaw topped with a julienne of fried black seaweed, as well as a syrupy red wine jus, and a selection of mustards, which I do not deem necessary. I am urged to try each of the different cuts on their own before pouring on the jus. This is an excellent way to compare the differences of each portion and appreciate the true flavour of the meat. On its own the beef was slightly under seasoned but a small grinding of salt perfected that. To accompany my steak I am offered a French pinot as a wine matching: going with a lighter style to enable one to better taste the differences between the steaks without overwhelming the tastebuds with a heavier style: definitely a good idea. Needless to say, I enjoyed the entire selection and I am congratulated on my accomplishment at the end of the journey.
For the quality and serving of steak on offer the pricing is very reasonable, particularly given the inclusion of such high grade wagyu on the plate.
Beef Tasting Plate: individual portions of wagyu, grain and pasture fed beef ($49).
To drink: 2005 Joseph Drouhin Rully Rouge – Burgundy ($18/gl)

A crisp, cos based (Caesar-like) salad proves itself a good side dish.
Baby gem lettuce, crisp pancetta, white anchovies and charred sourdough ($9).

After dinner a refreshing amuse guele follows.
Pineapple jelly with pina colada sorbet. Sublime.

After this feast I don't really have room for dessert but am determined to try one of the enticing options before parting. After a sufficient gap, enabling my stomach to settle, my waiter recommends ordering something I haven't had in a while. He mentions that his wife is French and that she loves the tart tatin, finding it as good as those she has experienced at home. With this sought of endorsement I cannot say no and am sure glad that I didn't. There is a noticeable French technique amongst much of the cooking, particularly in the deserts department and whilst I cannot personally compare it to the real thing in France, the tart tatin was definitely the best dessert I have had in some time. A sensational flaky crust with soft apples, sticky caramel and a creamy, spiced ice cream melting away alongside the light as a feather vanilla espuma; both of which make perfect accompaniments. To go with dessert I am also provided with an obligatory pouring of sauternes - a gesture I am most thankful for.
Apple tart Tatin, star anise and cinnamon ice cream, praline crumbs and vanilla espumas ($18).
To drink: 2005 Romieu Lacoste Sauternes

To conclude the journey I enjoy an invigorating ginger and lemongrass tisane before parting ways with The Point until next time. I enjoyed every moment of the dining experience and believe this is a restaurant that probably isn’t receiving the credit that it deserves, somehow being overlooked for a hat in this years’ Age Good Food Guide.

The Point received a score of 14.5 out of 20 in the 2009 Age Good Food Guide.

MY RATING: 16.5/20 - Food: 8.5/10 Service: 4/5 Ambience: 4/5

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  posted at 7:40 AM  

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Name: Jon!

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