Shannon Bennett's empire continues to expand. Vue de Monde's founder is about to take control of the Royal Botanic Gardens' Observatory Cafe, which will be relaunched on June 2 as Jardin Tan. The cafeteria-style service and cafe food will go, replaced by French-Vietnamese dishes such as lemongrass beef, banh mi using house-made terrine and pate, and serve-yourself Ottolenghi-style salads, using produce from the cafe's kitchen gardens, which will become a focal point during the makeover. Mike Reid (former executive chef at London's popular Gaucho steakhouse restaurant) will head the kitchen.
Meanwhile, at former Nicholas family estate Burnham Beeches in the Dandenongs, it's a case of pearls before swine as the property's former pigsty becomes Piggery Cafe. It's set to open in mid-April, along with Burnham Bakery, which will supply bread and pastries to all Vue businesses, and visitors. Stage two will be an onsite brewery and steakhouse by late 2015, and stage three will turn the Art Moderne mansion into a hotel by 2018. The property has a 2.4-hectare garden that supplies 40 per cent of Vue's vegetables, herbs and flowers.