MELBOURNE | Taste of Melbourne is back for another year this weekend, and there’s one particular experience that has piqued our interest. The experience in question is the Lûmé Looking Glass Virtual Reality Experience, which promises to take guests on “an immersive dining journey of multisensory proportions”. We usually think that this sort of thing is gimmicky, but after our virtual reality experience at the Lagavulin Distillery 200th anniversary event earlier this year, we saw how, when done well, virtual reality can really add to the food and drink experience.
We were invited to Restaurant Lume to preview the experience for ourselves, and were interested in seeing what Lume’s head chef and owner, Shaun Quade was hoping to achieve with the Virtual Reality Experience. Lume has always been about offering a theatrical and multisensory dining experience and in many ways talking to Quade reminded us of the sort of things we experienced when we dined at The Fat Duck. We agree that dining is about so much more than just great food – think of the times that you’ve eaten at a place where the food was merely acceptable but the night still excellent because of the great atmosphere and company. Of course, the best dining experiences nail all of the aspects.
Sitting at the table, the Occulus Rift VR headset and Blue headphones were placed onto our heads and the experience began. We learned about the restaurant, and about some of things that drivee Quade and his team. We were then transported to a Meyer Lemon orchard in the Yarra Valley, where Quade was picking lemons and talking more about his food and dining philosophy. We were then transported back to the restaurant in the midst of full service, and served one of Lume’s iconic dishes, the Meyer Lemon Tree with a matching Amaro tea cocktail. You can guess what was on the table when we took off the headset.
This was just a snippet of what those who attend the Lûmé Looking Glass Virtual Reality Experience, as Quade didn’t want to give away all of the surprises and we really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of potential with virtual reality in restaurants – it’s the next step to allowing diners to really know about what they are eating, beyond being told about the provenance of the ingredients and inspiration behind the dishes.
The unrelenting desire to experiment at Lume extends well beyond the food itself, and we’re really interested to see how Quade and the team continue to push the boundaries at Lume. We’re assured that virtual reality will be a part of the Lume experience in the future, but for now check out the Lûmé Looking Glass Virtual Reality Experience at Taste of Melbourne to experience the beginnings of something which we think will become a much bigger part of fine dining in the future. And if you’re thinking “enough about virtual reality, was the food any good?” – the dessert and cocktail were really tasty. The bitterness of the cocktail played off nicely with the zest and mild sweetness of the deconstructed lemon curd, candy shell, custard and meringue.