It’s only been around for 14 months, but Lûmé has gone through a lot of changes, and been on a lot of lips. Shaun Quade now helms the kitchen solo and the entire staff act as sommelier, their rationale being everyone cooking should be thinking about matching too.
But there are other reasons why you should eat at Lûmé.
It’s the sort of place where every detail is considered and anticipated. From the moment you step inside, every single element – from the music playing (Tycho on our visit) to the scent of the room – is designed to help you leave the “real world” at the door.
It’s not messing around. Dining psychologists through to theatrical companies have been consulted; floor staff are trained in the art of movement; and menus read more like scripts.
Depending on the night, there might even be actors in the room masquerading as guests. Strategically planted to play with guests' preconceptions and bring a little theatre to the floor.
But while a healthy curiosity is helpful to any dining experience, food and service trumps all else. Both of which we couldn’t fault.
The menu is chef Shaun Quade’s interpretation of Australia. Combining classic and experimental techniques, he highlights local produce such as emu and strawberry-fed Great Ocean Road ducks.
One of the best dishes on our visit was actually one of the simplest (and of course, it wasn’t all that simple). Barley and artichoke bread, grown and milled in-house, accompanied with butter and a honey-like condiment somehow conjured from smoked eel. We ordered it again.
Things got quirkier as the evening wore on. There was ‘Pearl on the Ocean Floor’ – a dish intended to evoke childhood memories of playing at the beach. Another memorable moment was the smashing of a giant cacao pod at our table.
It was a little bit whimsical and more than a little cerebral. But above all else, it was incredibly well-balanced and inventive.
Lûmé is not above reproach. It listened to feedback and introduced a pared back five-course tasting menu for those not up for the full 16-course experience.
With two hats freshly under its belt, we suggest you try it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.