Vdm was THE one restaurant I’d wanted to try for AGES. Awarded 3 Chef Hats, as well as Restaurant of the Year by The Age Good Food Guide, it is run by Shannon Bennett, a leading chef on the global stage (think Peach Melba pressure test, Masterchef 2012).
The appeal here is not just good food– it was about the dining experience itself. The dishes served were not something you can replicate at home. Nor the ambience, the level of service and attention to detail.
Located on level 55 of the Rialto, it is a VERY poshy place – however, each staff member was down to earth and friendly, and was always happy to run through the finer details of various aspects of the restaurant with us.
I went in a group with 4 friends – J9 (housemate), Bboi (uni buddy), WYu the HMO and ARen (LG buddies). We were seated at the Chef’s Table, which on one side was a full length window which gave us a beautiful night view of Melbourne, and on the other side a view into the kitchen via a clear window panel.
Now, ordering at Vdm is different from other restaurants. Rather than selecting items from a menu, patrons simply choose how many courses they wish to have. Prices start from $150 for 4 courses, and go up to $250 for 10 courses (additional for wines).
We had all decided beforehand to have the 10 course degustation. Our waiter kindly went through the options with us, and queried whether anyone had any dietary restrictions or didn’t/couldn’t eat any type of food – I requested not to have lamb, as usual.
We started off with an array of small ‘snacks’:
Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
Salt cured wallaby
Peas, pistachio, strawberry
Our main courses soon arrived, with many more snacks and palate cleansers in between:
Spanner crab, kohlrabi, avocado, beach herbs
Roasted marron, tarragon butter
Melbourne onion soup, truffle
Duck egg, asparagus
Cucumber sorbet, crushed herbs
Barramundi, herb emulsion, prawn, smoked bone marrow
Pigeon, artichoke, mushroom, parsley, hay
Blackmore Wagyu, beetroot, pear
Assortment of cheeses, bread, jams
Passionfruit, licorice (beer), coconut
Mandarin, violet and vanilla custard
Chocolate soufflé, chocolate mousse, crème anglaise
A selection of petit-fours
We were all in a food coma by the end. Actually, by about the 5th course I was full, but had to keep on keeping on – how could I not?! By the time dessert arrived, I was just about delirious. But they were soooo good, I polished it off. At times like these I really wish that dessert was served first, then savoury dishes. Who decided desserts should be last anyway?!
The mandarin, violet and vanilla custard dessert was my favourite dish of the night. It. Was. Amazing. The best thing I’ve ever eaten to date. ‘nough said.
Other standouts were the roasted marron with tarragon butter. Now this tarragon butter was so rich and creamy and flavoursome. We all loved it so much, we raved about it while eating the next few courses. Our waiter must have overheard, because they brought out an extra saucer of the butter for us to dip our bread with. As embarrassing as that was, if you’ve tried this butter...you’d understand. WYu the HMO and ARen polished off that saucer of tarragon butter in the blink of an eye...
I also immensely enjoyed the spanner crab, and salted duck egg. Those were my savoury dishes of the day. The beetroot sauce that came with the Wagyu also deserves a special mention - it was rather delightful.
This was one fine dining experience that I would recommend for anyone and everyone to have, at least once – foodie or not. Not everyone would eagerly fork out the $250+ to eat here, but for me it was worth every penny. And when I see the detail and labour and care that goes into every aspect of each dish, $250 for 10+ courses ($25 per dish) is not expensive, when you think about it.
I would recommend sticking to about 5-6 courses; 10 was way too much food, particularly because if you take into account all the complimentary starters, snacks, palate cleansers, etc it became equivalent to about 15 courses...however, if you're really hungry or have a huge appetite or want to maximize the number of dishes you can taste, go for 10.
Our entire experience took 4.5 hours, so a good idea to leave the afternoon/night free...and preferably try to take the day off work the next day, to recover from the coma...
The verdict? GO BOOK YOUR TABLE NOW. You won’t regret it.
Ratings (based on my own experience, on this occasion):
Food – 9 ½ / 10
Service – 9 ½ / 10
Value for money – 9 / 10
OVERALL CONSENSUS: 5 bags (out of 5)