Melbourne has long been standing as Australia’s culinary capital, not any less than it’s bigger neighbour Sydney. The climate is as some may describe as being able to experience 4 seasons in one day.
Regardless of the weather – it is also the city’s proximity to pretty much all the land and the sea has to offer in abundance and the variety is staggering. The neighbouring Australian territories provide for a variety of produce of native ingredients, with so many still being discovered by chefs and foragers year on year – on land, the river tributaries and the ginormous coastline.
Well if that was not enough, there is also the nearby Tasmania, which provides for incredible source of dairy, seafood and game, from a cooler climate, slightly further north east from the capital of Victoria.
Believed to change with seasons – the interior of the Lûmé
In the early spring of 2015, a new opening from the Chefs Shaun Quade and John-Paul Fiechtner, with sommelier Sally Humble – landed in the Victoria’s capital with a mission. The ambitiously driven team has been put together with the finest sommeliers in town and with a vision to be included in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Chef Quade and the team chose the location in 2015 to be a bit out of town, to be more of a destination restaurant. Why not? If it is worth a special journey – people will come…the reputation of Lûmé’s cuisine since the opening has not fallen short of achieving that goal.
Mioya Shuzo ‘Yuho no Sharp’, Junmai Ginjo Nama Nigori, Ishakawa 2015
The restaurant is located on the premises of what was previously a burlesque club in an unassuming terraced house. It seemed the perfect fit, so the guys went ahead to renovate the joint – they were keen on having an open kitchen and the space allowed for just that.
The welcome sourdough
Quade strongly believes in the interaction between the chef and the customer – his art as food is the medium of connecting the two and the ability to express with dishes that are testing the boundaries of modern gastronomy in both the taste and the presentations.
Plating up the surprise courses
From the early days (only just three years ago) – the critics left Lûmé a touch mesmerised and perhaps a touch freaked out by the whole experience the guys have put together. Some were slating the unusually long dining experience of up to 5.5hrs and some were not too keen on the unique flavours and ingredients Chef Quade and the team were immersing them in.
Abalone with barbecue flavours, fresh pistachio and powdered liver
True, it is perhaps the only restaurant in Australia or perhaps the world that would serve you a cow’s udder without your knowledge (unless you stated you’re a flexitarian prior to your reservation) – which could be just the whole beauty of discovering new ingredients without preconditioning one-self.
Chefs Eileen Horsnell and Shaun Quade on the pass
The menu here is given to you at the end, as a little farewell – so from the very beginning, you have no idea what you are into...just as one might experience by going to a cinema, an unheard-of-theatre performance or indeed a circus – with the latter almost certainly guaranteeing to entertain, surprise and massage the brain with happiness – much like one would experience at Lûmé.
Meyer Lemon Tree
The menu shrunk from the initial offering as the team was fine tuning the gears and the whole vehicle to what it has become today. Dishes evolved and so has the theatre of service that you witness during your meal
Happy team spirit
Current options are ten or fifteen-course degustation menus with a wine pairing being optional. It would be unheard of to leave straight-edge after 15 matching drinks to your meal but you would be old and wise enough to choose for yourself.
If hammering through the meal with wines and sakes is not your thing – then let the Bar gurus take care of you. Renowned as being one of the best in the country, the cocktails crafted here are innovative, unique and in ways – inspiring.
Chef Shaun Quade
The good thing is that you don’t have to have ten or fifteen of them if you don’t want to but world-class head bartender is Orlando Marzo and he may just make you change your healthy habits, if just for one night – with his concoctions.
Saltgrass lamb smoked over cherry wood, rhubarb, hibiscus and rose
Bar Lûmé would be the perfect pre-dinner pit-stop if you opt for the degustation menu and likewise a great place to try all those beverage creations with a charcuterie or some bar snacks, if going all out you want to save for another day.
Even the interior at the restaurant evolves with team – with some insider sharing with us that Shaun Quade has a penchant for renovating and the interior currently a touch more organic and modern than with the initial opening when it was bold and loud.
Dry aged duck smoked over bottlebrush and finished with elderflower honey
Evidently, Chef Quade is an artist and he is covering literally all ground and not just the food as he evolves further – a refreshing approach to perhaps the next level in fine dining.
It’s all attention to details here
Prior to experiencing all of the above - you go through the likewise bizarre and thought provoking “book a table” process, which is your initiation to the world of Shaun Quade in itself. Questions you have never answered, may not answer and probably will never have an answer to, before you click the reservation confirmation button.
On the pass – calm and focused
Lûmé culinary team
Pearl on the ocean floor
And Shaun Quade and the team are not stopping here with a recent announcement that they are to expand to Los Angeles in 2018…you heard it – and although the location is still under wraps, the team has confirmed that it is definitely happening.
Come and immerse in the theater and see the world of Quade and the cuisine for yourself, for it would have already evolved to another level by the time we finish this sentence.
Restaurant Lûmé, 226 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205