Vue de Monde, sibling venue Lui Bar and the Vue Events space on the Rialto Tower’s 55th floor are officially open again after closing in July for a far-reaching refurb and renovation. The changes to the venues were initially reported to cost $3 million, but the Vue Group is staying mum on the final figure.
Vue de Monde is one of Melbourne’s most revered, and enduring, fine-dining institutions. Chef Shannon Bennett opened the restaurant in a Carlton terrace in 2000 before it moved to Normanby Chambers in the CBD in 2005. It relocated to its current home, on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers on Collins Street, in 2011.
Elenberg Fraser, the multi-award-winning architecture firm that also oversaw the 2011 move, led the 2023 renovation.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
In this iteration of the venue, the kitchen equipment has had a cutting edge upgrade and the white tiles in the kitchen have been replaced with moody black textured ones.
The changes in the dining room are subtle – the overall feel remains the same. “We thought about doing a different style, but nothing felt right,” says executive chef Hugh Allen, speaking to Broadsheet over the phone last week just hours before the first friends and family service in the newly revamped space.
Kangaroo-hide tables have been reupholstered, and burnt jarrah wood that Allen says has a “charred finish” appears throughout the restaurant.
The biggest difference may be more noticeable online than in the restaurant itself. That’s because the team has installed completely new lighting, and all the tables now have a little spotlight on them.
“I’d look at dishes posted online, on people’s Instas, and [they’d] share something that in the kitchen looks beautiful and well-lit, and you go to the table and … they used to be blurry, dark, everything’s a little brown,” says Allen.
“For me, it [the new lighting] is really important and [something] that all the top restaurants in the States and in Europe have.”
The group brought in a consultant and trialled different light temperatures before determining which would make the food and ingredients look best. (The team decided on 2700K, for those wondering). The lighting temperature is the same in the kitchen as it is in the dining room, so the food on the table resembles what’s on the pass.
The biggest cosmetic change is in Lui Bar, Vue de Monde’s sibling venue, also on the 55th floor. The large rectangular bar that once took up a lot of real estate has been replaced by a less intrusive circular one made from stone. Seating is more spaced out and more focused around the windows, making the most of the remarkable city views.
The main piece of décor in Lui Bar is the carpeting, which features what Allen describes as a digitised image of a eucalyptus tree. All the furniture is locally made and meant to complement the carpet.
The events space, Vue Events, remains similar – a space the team can customise depending on event and client needs.
The rare period of closure for the fine diner allowed Allen to travel. The chef visited Singapore (where the Vue Group’s parent company Far Eat Organization is based), London, Amsterdam and parts of Spain. He went to fine diners including Iyoki in London and Disfrutar in Barcelona, but says he drew the most influence from San Sebastián in Spain.
Diners can expect a whole new menu, with the exception of the restaurant’s signature soufflé.
The chef is most excited about a radish broth that includes fermented koji; an avocado tart; and dish of room-temperature caviar served on top of a macadamia purée.
But Allen says the menu will continue to change, especially in the first few weeks. “We'll continue to evolve as we find better ways or new cool ways to do things,” he says.