Thursday, 20 December 2012

Jacques Reymond - Take Me Home

When I first threw open the front door to Jacques Reymond, which is located in a stately Victorian mansion on a leafy suburban Prahran road a little over a year ago I knew that I found somewhere special. After returning last week to placate my hungry self with their degustation and matched wine option, it not only felt like I never left but it reminded me of home. Don't assume that I grew up in a Victorian mansion but I use the word "home" in the romanticised way that we dream on occasion of having a kept life filled with wonders and perfection. I know that I strive to get closer to that goal on a daily basis and since reintroducing the world of Jacques Reymond into my life, I have effectively moved one step closer to living the dream.

It had been over a year since I dined in the restaurant and I didn't even live in Melbourne at the time. Seeing familiar faces working on the night is a testament to the restaurant as they are able to retain quality staff for long periods of time. The familiarity in turn immediately brought a sense of calm as we were escorted by the maître d', a very affable chap called Gareth, that not only recalled my last visit to the restaurant but assured me that the same table near the fireplace and most importantly the Dom Pérignon branded card was being made available for the festivities which I suppose I have garnered quite the reputation for enjoying.

As we settled into the corner, the sommelier provided us glasses of 2003 Dom Pérignon to take the edge off not knowing that we had assimilated into the comfortable seats in my favourite corner of the world quickly and easily. It was with no hesitation that we announced that we would be enjoying the nine course degustation with matching wines and after uttering the one sentence, the biggest decision of the day was made. Jacques Reymond also serves from I can tell quite a stellar and comprehensive vegetarian-based degustation menu. After David Chang made headlines when he proclaimed that he would not cater for vegetarians (which I am not close to being but I know a few) it is refreshing to see a renowned restaurant and chef making the effort to cater for this lifestyle choice.

Proceedings commenced with a contrast of ocean trout - both slow cooked and smoked being matched with a 2010 Kientzler Gewürztraminer from Alsace Ribeauvillé, France. Stark contrasts with the trout and a very aptly paired wine along with the sharp, knowledgeable, professional and engaging restaurant team made the first course perfect in every way. The sommelier was always happy to top up the wine glasses and seemingly had eyes in the back of his head as he always knew when my allocated supply was about to be exhausted.

Moreton Bay bugs on fresh soba noodles, wild succulents with carmelised black vinegar followed along with a 2009 Peregrine ‘Rastasburn’ Riesling, Central Otago, New Zealand was next to make its grand appearance. The carmelised black vinegar really brought out the flavour of the bug. At first I thought the vinegar would kill the dish but I was dead wrong. The Kiwi wine was a safe match and worked well. It would have been interesting to see a match from Queensland just to keep the theme alive however the fruit in the Riesling really shined, as decent selections usually do from across the ditch.

Perhaps it is just a preference, but I always find John Dory boring. The restaurant has taken this wallflower and dressed it up like a high class lady of the night with Szechuan pepper, smoked palm sugar, lemon and black olives and effectively made the fish into a very exciting offering where you are tempted to go in and enjoy each bite more and more. The Szechuan pepper really brought this fish to life and matched with Jacques Reymond's own 2010 Toolangi Estate Chardonnay from the Yarra, I was extremely impressed.

Flinders Island Meats must be working double shifts over the festive season as Flinders Island wallaby has not just found its way onto diners plates at Attica but also at Jacques Reymond. The wallaby course here took on a more elaborate fare being accompanied with a lamb dumpling and served in its own juices. A 2009 Poulsard, Jacques Puffeney from Arbois, Jura, France was paired with the rare beef and like when I visited Attica, made the wallaby dish my favourite for the evening. I still ponder the contrasting flavours as Ben Shewry matches his Wallaby dish with an Italian wine where Jacques Reymond instead chooses the darker and bolder French wine. Two distinct styles along with methods to prepare the beast - however both interpretations were liked by this plebeian.

Not to be outdone, one of the more bizarre food pairings took place next. Highland venison tataki and spanner crab. Spanner crab, when prepared properly is one of my favourite dishes but I was excited yet nervous to see it accompany venison tataki especially since it was being matched with the big and bold 2009 Poulsard, like with the rare wallaby. All I can say is "Bloody amazing!" and when dressed with the fresh Tasmanian wasabi, I understood why Jacques wanted to follow the Wallaby with this dish and the same wine.

Liguarian honey glazed Pekin duck with picked cherry and barbajuan was then presented with 2009 Monthelie 1er Cru ‘Sur la Velle’ Domaine Rèmi Jobard from Burgundy, France. Not to be confused with "Peking" duck, the Pekin duck is primarily used for egg and meat production. After the huge flavours associated with the venison and wallaby, the duck brought my palate back down to Earth. The honey and cherry flavours emboldened the 1er Cru wine whereas the duck, continued on with the "wow" factor that remained consistent with all of the courses throughout the evening.

Veal fillet dolce forte with sea urchin butter and lard potatoes followed. I tend to like my sea urchin raw and accompanied with a quail egg in Japanese restaurants and I was most impressed with the sea urchin butter and how it made the veal fillet taste. The lard potatoes were appropriate to serve with this flavour intensive course and matched with an old and classy 1993 Lindeman’s ‘Limestone’s Ridge’ Shiraz Cabernet, Coonawarra, SA, I really had to start questioning whether or not the wallaby was ultimately going to be my favourite dish in the end as this one was certainly a contender. The nuances afforded by the veal when matched with the sea urchin butter are just sublime.

A white chocolate mojito with apricot, mango and strawberry was the first of two dessert courses to arrive. This one was matched with non-vintage Billecart-Salmon Demi Sec from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, France. This was was followed by Venezuela origine rare chocolate and Mt Buffalo hazelnuts, passionfruit, infusion of tonka bean and Tahitian vanilla. This was matched with a Bareito Malvasia Full Rich 5 years old Madeira. A variety of flavours that settled us down where we ultimately concluded the evening with a couple of glasses of Armagnac.

This has to be one of the most comfortable dining experiences that I have had in years which was certainly encouraged by the very attentive, intelligent and amusing service team. My palate in the end was challenged by the combination of new tastes that I never thought would complement one another where some quality wines were enjoyed, some new intelligence was in turn found and most importantly the entire experience led to the four and a half hours to fly by as pleasant conversation was in turn motivated by all of the positive experiences. What impressed me to no end that everything from the food, drink, service and ambiance was elegant and not flashy. Haute cuisine does exist in Melbourne and it is found at Jacques Reymond. 

Take me home.

Jacques Reymond Restaurant, Prahran, Melbourne
Jacques Reymond
78 Williams Road  Prahran VIC 3181
(03) 9525 2178
My Rating: 18.75/20
Service: 5/5
Ambiance: 4.75/5
Quality: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 85% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Jacques Reymond.

Jacques Reymond on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a comment