At the end of service on July 22, Melbourne fine diner Vue de Monde will close for just over two months for a major revamp. Sibling venues Lui Bar and Vue Events, which like the restaurant are on the Rialto Tower’s 55th floor, will also be renovated as part of the plan, which is worth over $3 million.
Vue de Monde has existed in many forms since 2000, when Shannon Bennett first opened the restaurant in a Carlton terrace. In 2005, it moved to Normanby Chambers in the CBD before relocating to the Rialto Towers on Collins Street in 2011.
As part of the venue’s first significant renovation since the 2011 move, the Vue de Monde kitchen is getting a serious equipment upgrade and the dining room will see lighting changes and be updated with a new sound system. But executive chef Hugh Allen says the space will still look and feel familiar to guests. This is in part because Elenberg Fraser, the multi-award-winning architect firm that oversaw the 2011 move, has returned for this project.
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The renovations have been planned since before Covid and will have the biggest impact on Lui Bar, the venue’s drinks lounge. "[I]t’s fundamentally a completely new venue,” Allen tells Broadsheet.
Lui Bar’s seating, which currently faces the cocktail bar in the middle of the room, will for the most part move to be in line with the windows and take advantage of the venue’s famous Melbourne skyline views.
The events space, Vue Events, will also be completely redone. There’ll be a sound-absorbing acoustic celling, walls finished with charred Australian wood and light fittings made of glass hand-blown by local Australian artists.
With service on pause, Allen has plans to spend the time travelling, training staff and focusing on recipe development. There are no new dishes to reveal yet, but Allen says that “the best things menu-wise always happen when you can just focus on it and [we’re not in] service”.
The Covid years have been devastating for hospitality industries around the world, and when chef René Redzepi announced in January that he would be ending service at his restaurant Noma – arguably the most well-known fine-dining destination in the world – and transforming it into a full-time food laboratory, it set off debate around the future of fine dining.
But Allen, who worked with Redzepi when he spent three years as part of the original Noma team, isn’t worried. “People have been having the same conversation for 20 years,” he says. “I think it’s really important that we have diversity across the scene of dining. I love these places, but it would be a shame to have just wine bars and pubs in Melbourne … I don’t think fine dining’s going anywhere.”
Vue de Monde is due to reopen in October 2023. The final service before the restaurant closes for refurbishment is on July 22.
Vue de Monde
55 Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9691 3888