78 Williams Road, Prahan – www.jacquesreymond.com.au
Jacques Reymond is a Melbourne institution, a cuisine heavyweight. Jacques is one of only four Victorian restaurants to be awarded three hats by the Good Food Guide and wow, is it well deserved. The dining experience is elegant and exquisite, right from the moment you walk through the manicured gardens and the heavy grand door is opened for you. It is at this moment you enter a different world, a world dominated by the creations of an amazing chef.
Inside the lush soft furnishings and crackling fire welcome you, the mirrors and chandeliers sparkle and the waiters glide along like swans. In such a decadent setting, the food itself has a high benchmark to achieve. But do not fear mon amie, the menu is technically brilliant, innovative without being overly creative. It’s French cuisine meets South East Asia. It’s a combination of euro-skills with some of the best Asian flavours, and there isn’t a chilli in sight. Every dish is beautifully presented, attention to detail present in every element.
Jacques isn’t trying to be the best, clearly he’s already there. In Jacques’ world, everything is beautiful.
‘A Taste of our Degustation Menu’
· Contrast of Ocean Trout, slow cooked and smoked (2010 Kientzler Gewurztraminer, Alsace Ribeauville, France)
A stand out dish, ocean trout cooked two different ways, amazing play on texture – particularly with a phenomenal smoky flavoured jelly versus the freshness of radish. Beautifully presented with micro-violets.
· Moreton Bay bugs, fresh soba noodles, wild succulents and caramelised black vinegar (2011 Felton Road Riesling, Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand)
An interesting multi-dimensional dish, including the use of dried, shaved seaweed which had a really odd ash-like consistency and blood orange segments.
· John Dory, Szechuan pepper and smoked palm sugar, lemon and black olives (2010 Toolangi Estate ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic)
Smoked palm sugar glaze on the John Dory is stroke of genius; fish positively shimmers underneath its mustard seed foam. The lemon rind and black olive reductions serve to cut through the sweetness of the dish. It’s not hard to see why the dish is one of the most popular of the menu.
· Flinders Island Wallaby, lamb dumpling, natural cooking juices (2010 Trousseau ‘Singulier’ Stephane Tissot, Arbois, Jura, France)
Wallaby must be an “it dish” for three hat restaurants – this wallaby is sourced from the same supplier as Attica. The dishes are completely different as one would expect, Jacques’ wallaby is perched on a silky smooth lamb dumpling which makes a lovely combination rather than the wallaby being the standout flavour of Attica’s dish. The wallaby is rarer than Attica, and I found the flavour not as intense.
· Highland venison tataki and spanner crab, Fresh Tasmanian wasabi (wine as above)
This was another standout dish for me, venison meat gleamed like a ruby jewel and spanner crab was an inspired pairing. You’d expect the crab to be overpowered by the venison, but in fact it was the opposite. The wasabi had been converted to a paste like jelly – just exquisite.
· Ligurian honey glazed pekin duck, pickled plum and barbajuan (2010 Bass Philips ‘Crown Prince’ Pinot Noir, SE Gippsland Vic)
A dish characterized by intense sweetness of the honey. Loved the pickled Japanese plum – pungent sharper flavour which added so much to the dish.
· Veal Fillet dolce forte, sea urchin butter and lard potatoes
The richest dish of the menu, the veal is succulent, sea urchin butter is overwhelmingly “sea” flavoured, whilst the Nicola potatoes cooked in lard were phenomenally good. After the six previous dishes, it was a dish I found slightly too rich.
· White chocolate mojito, apricot, pineapple and strawberry (NV Billiecart-Salmon Demi Sec, Mareuil-sur-Ay, France)
A necessary burst of freshness after the heaviness of the veal. Husband described it as resembling a child’s “fruit cup”. Yet another beautiful jelly appears, this time strawberry-flavoured at the bottom of the glass. NV Billiecart was my favourite wine of the night, such a lovely pale golden colour with hints of honey and buttered brioche.
· Venezuela origine rare chocolate and Mt Buffalo hazelnuts, passionfruit, infusion of tonka bean and Tahitian vanilla
A powerfully decadent end to the meal – lovely jaffa flavoured with the addition of the tonka bean. Bursting the ball of Tahitian vanilla liquid was a really odd textural experience.
What I loved: The elegance and beauty in every dish, and the surprise elements or ingredient in each. The magnificence of the Victorian mansion setting.
What I’d like to see: A slight tinkering to the front end of the wine matches – a few choices were really sweet especially when there are seven or eight courses ahead.
Comparable to: The now closed Manse (Adelaide), but better, much better.