Lûmé — Melbourne, Australia
While some mutter beneath their breath about the death of fine dining, an innovative hospitality trio is taking the genre to new heights. Guests at South Melbourne’s 40-seat Lûmé – owned by chefs and school friends Shaun Quade and John-Paul Fiechtner and sommelier Sally Humble – will be served a tasting menu numbering 18 to 20 courses. Native ingredients, many virtually unseen on menus, will be the focus, and a not-for-profit gardening organisation is cultivating unusual varieties of vegetables and herbs for the kitchen’s exclusive use. Photographing the food is discouraged and the menu will only be presented at the end of the night. Included in the procession of precision dishes could be flakes of air-dried emu, cured with sour cherry, or ‘cauliflower with pastry’, where the vegetable is presented like a mini camembert and the baked element is a croissant. Local architecture firm Studio Y has transformed the former cabaret venue into two spaces with earthy, Scandinavian overtones. The first is the restaurant, open to the kitchen to encourage interaction between diners and the chefs. Marble-topped, skirted tables are lit by raw clay pendants; some filter out to an atrium with its vertical gardens and lemon tree centrepiece. There’s also a bar area, where creative, seasonal cocktails and sharing-style dishes are served.