20 July 2010

Jacques Reymond: 3 hatted degustation, Prahan (29 April 2010)

78 Williams Road, Prahan Victoria VIC 3181

Pushing the taste boundaries

During Easter I attended the sold out agideas design conference in Melbourne and one of the speakers was Jacques Reymond who spoke on Day 1 of the 27th April. At first I thought it was a very unusual choice to see a chef on the speaker program but for me Jacques was one of the most well-spoken, entertaining and inspirational speakers of the whole 3 day conference. He spoke with sincere passion and engaged the audience with his life long journey and inspiration of becoming a chef. His restaurant has achieved Three-hats and Restaurant Of the year in The Age Good Food Guide 2010 Awards and before the conference I had never heard of him but after his speech I was truly inspired to make a booking and dine in his restaurant two days after.

Upon arriving I was impressed with the size of grand Victorian mansion restaurant complete with landscaped gardens although in the dark I actually had trouble working out where to enter via the side entrance. The beautifully decorated red dining room was cosy and nicely lit. The service was professional and accommodating. The appetiser of cheese choux pastry was great — light, tasty and freshly cooked — and the complimentary bread also nice and served warm. The first degustation course of Lemongrass, spinach and rock lobster soup, fragrant Tiger prawn, sweet potato and turmeric ice cream was enjoyable, simple and worked well, especially the soup. The dishes after this though became a bit of a blur due to being perhaps a little overly designed on the plate. I usually find the best and most memorable dishes are the simplest in taste and presentation. I can still remember some of Tetsuya's dishes from years ago like the beetroot sorbet, ocean trout confit and crab ravioli but I thought for many of Jacques degustation dishes there was so much happening on the plate that I think it lost focus for me, in terms of taste and simplicity in presentation. Some of the time I wasn't sure what I was tasting but perhaps that's just me. With carrots and cauliflower cut down to the size of your finger nail in the Poached and roasted partridge, miniscule drips of unidentifiable sauces on the Western plains suckling pig and sometimes lots of different ingredients like on the Sandwich of spanner crab and Highland venison my taste buds were soon pretty confused on what I was eating and thus lacked enjoyment of the taste sensation. The special side dish of Pine mushrooms ($25) was quite meaty and actually one of the meal highlights — simple, honest and definable tasty flavours.

With only a 7.0 (21 reviews) on Eatability I think the hyped media reviews and awards this restaurant has received might not be meeting the expectations of the restaurant punters that come to experience the food and it's been marked quite low on value for money. Personally I've found more enjoyment in the dishes I've had at other 2 and 3-hatted restaurants like Aria, Bécasse, Est, Quay, Universal and Tetsuya's both in appreciation of taste and presentation. So in design there's a golden rule 'Less is More' or 'Keep it Simple' and when this rule isn't followed the result can end up being confusing, overly designed and the message is lost or in terms of food, the taste buds get confused. I think Jacques definitely has a passion for food and using top quality ingredients but I found I couldn't really appreciate what he was trying to achieve with his dishes. I thought the wine selection was fairly good and desserts more clearly defined than the mains.

Degustation menu
$170.00 without wine
$265.00 with wine (selected)

Carte menu
Three courses $98.00
Four courses $125.00 (selected)
Five courses $150.00

PROS: Professional and accommodating service, Nice decor and seating, Quite nice wines
CONS: Very expensive, Dishes are a bit overly designed and trying to be too clever and won't be appreciated by everyones taste
MUST TRY: Cheese choux pastry, Lemongrass, spinach and rock lobster soup, Other 3-hatted restaurants

Degustation Menu

Complimentary cheese choux pastry appetiser

Complimentary house bread

Lemongrass, spinach and rock lobster soup, fragrant Tiger prawn,
sweet potato and turmeric ice cream
2004 Tyrrell’s HVD Semillon, Single Vineyard, Hunter Valley, NSW

Sandwich of spanner crab, mirin and fresh wasabi jelly,
lacquered Petuna ocean trout, black bean and sweetcorn dressing

Wild barramundi, almond and bush mountain pepper caramel,
yoghurt and black garlic, kaffir lime and lemongrass espuma
2009 Toolangi Estate ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic

Pekin duck and Hervey bay scallops, peking juices, spiced marshmallow like a crêpe, ginger sesame and pandan oil
2007 Bass Phillip ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Pinot Noir, SE Gippsland, Vic

Highland venison like a warm carpaccio, horseradish mustard dressing, butternut pumpkin with honey and bitter chocolate beignet
2006 Dalwhinnie ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Shiraz, Pyrenees, Vic

Western plains suckling pig and tamarind, celeriac and bitter almond, dashi apple veil, dancing bonito flakes and rosella chutney salad, cavalo nero
2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Clos du Mont Olivet, Les Fils de Joseph Sabon, Rhône Valley, France

Pacific Rim martini of pineapple, passionfruit and banana, liquorice ice cream and honeycomb

Millefeuilles of chocolate: white chocolate mousse, pure Caribbean chilli ice cream, dark chocolate mousse and praline ice cream
NV SeppeltsField Grand Tokay (Topaque), Barossa Valley, SA

Coffee and petits fours

Carte menu (4 courses $125)
Two tastes of scallops with seasonal flavours: A ceviche with swede, artichoke chips and lemon myrtle, seared scallops with beetroot, apple and cider emulsion

Making a reference to paella: Black rice unctuous, parmesan snow egg, wok of squid, crustaceans, chicken brisket and giblet, broken juices and saffron oil, smoked peppers

Poached and roasted partridge, light oriental juices a delicate custard of livers and tarragon, fresh water crustacean and aromatic infusion, dry mild curry of young carrots and cauliflower

Chocolate: White chocolate crème brulée, mild spice cacao sorbet, milk chocolate millefeuilles, dark chocolate soufflé

Seasonal pine mushrooms side special $25

2008 Chablis 'Terroirs de Fleys' Patrick Piuze, Burgundy France $20

Restaurant setting
Lots of cutlery for the degustation

Salt, Pepper and Butter

One of three dining rooms

The Bill

Kitchen preparation of degustation desserts

Nice hand wash

Front of the restaurant

agideas conference
Jacques Reymond on stage

Queues waiting to enter the Hamer Hall in The Arts Centre, Melbourne

Hamer Hall, The Arts Centre

View Larger Map
Jacques Reymond on Urbanspoon


bbsnoopy said...

oh my~
everything looks so out there and AMAZINGNESS!!! (except the bill) :P

joey@FoodiePop said...

I'm glad you posted Simon, since I had the same around the same time as you and still haven't got around to it!

I still cannot believe we did not receive a petit fours for each diner! I was incredulous.

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said...

What a feast! Hungry just staring at all the delicious morsels!

Sarah Vino said...

Fantastic stuff Simon! Thanks for sharing, and those Desserts MMMM MMM!! Now I know a good place in Vic.

Laura said...

I lived about 10 minutes drive from here when I lived in South Yarra, I even drove past it daily. Two years & I never went in, now I'm regretting it.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi bbsnoopy, the bill is usually the sad part of any meal isn't it hehe

hi joey, i'm really looking forward to reading about your experience. i think you should have received petit fours for each diner. that's what usually happens i think. they wouldn't cost that much either.

hi forager, i really struggle with degustation these days. i think my body can't process so much food in one sitting. but i still love trying everything :-)

hi sarah, i think i've heard better reviews of Cumulus Inc. and Cutler & Co so look out for these as well in Melbourne.

hi laura, hehe that's funny. sometimes the closest places to where we live are often overlooked and never visited. it's like when you live near a park you sometimes hardly go because you sometimes take it for granted.

thanh7580 said...

Hey Simon, I totally agree with you regarding too many itmes on the plate and you tend to get confused and forget them. For example, I can't remember a single dish I had recently at three michelin star restaurant Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, but can still remember the exact taste and texture of the schnitzel and potato salad I had at Figmuller in Vienna.

Having said all that, I still would like to try out Jacques one day. Can't believe I've never been, must make a point to go soon.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi thanh, glad you agree. gee that schnitzel place sounds divine. i wish they had one in Sydney. i guess when you visit don't have too high an expectation and it'll probably be a lovely experience :-)

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