Like fortune, Lûmé has always favoured the bold. Since opening in 2015, Shaun Quade’s innovative restaurant defied culinary expectations with its experimental 14-course tasting menu. In 2019, Quade shifted focus to an LA endeavour, moving into the role of Lûmé’s general manager, passing creative reins to then-25-year-old wunderkind John Rivera. In 2020, Rivera moved on, and left chef Elijah Holland in charge.
The big change: Lûmé’s menu is now available in four or nine courses, priced at $175 to $245 per head, respectively. What’s on show is chic and accessible food that defies any one cultural influence.
The shiniest highlights include barbeque pork strip glazed in black banana, rolled up and pierced theatrically with a twig; calamari hiding cheekily under cucumber, chrysanthemum and charred coconut; Great Ocean duck, its leg, breast and heart topped with bright, seasonal berries; and a mango dessert with yoghurt, hops and crystallised saltbush, best described as a couture Weis bar.
Along with the remaining courses, palate cleaners and petit fours, these dishes trot out in a slow and considered fashion that (miraculously) feels uncontrived. The staff is impeccably knowledgeable and genuinely passionate. Wine, sake, beer and cocktail pairings elevate each course and at times rival Lûmé’s kitchen in their ingenuity.
The restaurant resides in a Victorian townhouse that once served as a burlesque venue. Richly textured, peach-coloured walls are detailed with cave paintings of hunter-gathers. These walls give way to original brickwork and blonde-wood joinery. Plates and knives are emblazoned with the diacritic ˆ and ´ of the venue’s namesake. Detail reigns supreme.
This interior remained largely unchanged in the 2019 reboot. Although the space now seats more (80) diners, and there’s the option to sit at the bar. The music has been cranked up ever so slightly, giving the effect of a more bustling, and less stuffy, dining space.