Jacques Reymond, Melbourne

http://www.jacquesreymond.com.au

78 Williams Road  Prahran VIC 3181

An opportunistic meal. You’ve got to grab these chances while you can… I was down in Melbourne on a Tuesday to view focus groups in St.Kilda. Groups were to finish at 8.30pm. I faced the prospect of a few drinks and returning to my shitty Ibis hotel (limited hotel options due to the tennis….). Jacques Reymond was only 5mins drive away. It seemed rude not to go. A table for one it was.

Set in a beautiful colonial townhouse, it was buzzier restaurant than I anticipated with chatter emanating from the three dining rooms. Service was gregarious and helpful. I get offered a Jacques Reymond cookbook to read. Nice thought, but it would make me look more tragic than I already am. As it is, I’m reading Adapt – Why Success Always Starts With Failure. It appears a self-help book, but it’s economics (really)…

The meal starts with two boulder sized Gruyere Gougeres

It’s the pre-dinner snack of any refined French restaurant (not sure why). They’re excellent. A glass of Pouilly Fume really helps as well….

There are two menus – a small plate a la carte that dazzles with combination of ingredients. It kinds of blinds you into submission to order the degustation. There’s also some serious pricing anchoring going on to nudge you to order it. After you opt for the unpriced dessert there’s not much price difference. I resist, knowing that I may have to come back here again with Vanessa. So the a la carte it is, sticking to the three courses of your choice.

Bread is fine. Nothing to really get excited about. Of course the butter is good

A ‘surprise’ from the chef: Moreton Bay bug, fresh soba noodles and salicorne

A fat bug served at room temperature complimenting the soba noodles. Pleasant. Not sure if this is a glorified amuse…

The first course (deep breath): grilled scallops and Japanese dressing, King island rock lobster dumpling and quinoa, caramelised sweetbreads with orange and coriander

Contrary to the menu description, there’s only one scallop (a mild annoyance). It’s more noticeable because it’s excellent. The scallop grilled with miso is lovely and the dumpling is also delightful. Sweetbreads are never going to disappoint. The variety of ingredients create the interest.

Next up: pork fillet with kombu and mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnut paste, salad of belly and duck neck, a sauce vin jaune

Cusines du Temps is a descriptor of Jacques Reymond’s culinary ethos, which hardly rings true with a plate straight out of the 80s. But we have foam and a smear, so at least we’re back in 21st century. Sniping aside the pork can’t be faulted – rare and mellow. Something to linger over. The nod to a salad is pretty good with a few shreds of confit pork and duck.

It goes down well with mighty glass of Shiraz. All is good with the world.

The final savoury course  “young pigeon like a peking duck”, sweet purple garlic sauce, corn and potato galette, exotic mushrooms and beetroot bigarade

Pigeon like duck i guess is through a focus on skin. It doesn’t taste a great deal different to normal pigeon, but again the preparation is excellent. A lot of other components get lost, but galette is a nice change to the norm.

Dessert is the recommended: Seven textures of chocolate

A now dish that is doing the rounds in many forms in restaurants. The ingredients are all good, but all textures taste pretty similar and although very agreeable, there’s not a lot of wow.

Dinner finishes with a double espresso, petit fours and pretty cute churros – the meal is bookend-ed pretty well. Just a shame it’s difficult to scoop up all the chocolate.

It was really only a taster of what Jacques Reymond has to offer, so I only got a sense of what it’s all about. Componently the meal was very good. There is skill in abundance, but it wasn’t the most satisfying of meals. At $150 you want to be satisfied, but I wasn’t. Although advised the plates were entree sized, there was very little to get stuck into. The scale of ingredients well put together is the selling point here, but it was all a little piecemeal, when less is more. Berowra Waters Inn has a similar approach, but in my opinion gets the balance right with only 3 or 4 elements. The degustation looked simpler, so maybe it’s only a fault of the a la carte. So in many parts a fine meal, but perhaps trying a little too hard. My judgement is still out. Might need to go again.

 

 

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