Saturday, 24 April 2010

Jacques Reymond

Jacques Reymond Cuisine du Temps is the last of Australia's current crop of Good Food Guide 3 Hat restaurants we've yet to try. On this slightly damp Melbourne evening we remedied that. JR is in Prahran, about 10 minutes from the city, and is in a fabulous old 1880's Victorian mansion.
Wandering up the drive-way gave me the same sort of sense of expectation as when we first confronted Joel Robuchon's chateau in Tokyo. So far so good. Apart from a wedding party upstairs we looked to be the first customers to arrive for the evening.
To start the ball rolling we order a couple of German Pilseners. Can you have German Pilseners? Maybe it was Czech. Maybe it wasn't Pils. I think it started with 'T'. I only had one. No, really. A good brew though.
We've decided to go with Jacques 'A Taste Of Our Degustation Menu'. Eight courses. Oh yeah, bring it on.

Cheesy puff pastries for starters. Cheesy and light. A good if unusual start.

When I going the whole hog with the degustation thing I don't usually like to fill up on bread beforehand but this bread was pretty good as was the unsalted Euro style butter. I prefer salty butter but for an unsalted butter it was still full of buttery goodness.

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
This was a taste of Asia. Hints of Thai or Vietnamese we thought. Bloody lovely. Delicate, sweet and tasty. This is as good a start I've had for a degustation.

Sandwich of spanner crab, mirin and fresh wasabi jelly, lacquered Petuna ocean trout, black bean and sweetcorn dressing
Apparently we are doing a tour of Asia with this meal. This time we're off to Japan I reckon. The cured ocean trout is equal to the best cured fish I've ever had. Two dishes down and so far it has been superb.

Wild barramundi, almond and bush mountain pepper caramel, yoghurt and black garlic, kaffir lime and lemongrass espuma
2008 Toolangi Estate ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic
I think we're still in Asia. This time over to the West in the Mid-East. I may be wrong but I think this fish has a hint of middle eastern flavours to it or maybe Indian. Whatever, again Jacques has hit this for six. His kitchen really do know how to prepare fish. This was perfect barra.

Pekin duck and Hervey bay scallops, peking juices, spiced marshmallow like a crêpe, crispy rice, ginger sesame and pandan oil
2007 Bass Phillip ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Pinot Noir, SE Gippsland, Vic
Okay this is one is easy. We've turned to north asia, specifically China. We're told that the chef prepares three ducks just to make the sauce. I've mentioned before in earlier blog posts that I'm not a fan of duck. Maybe it had to do with the freshly shot ducks we ate as kids. Horrible and gamey it was too. To make matters worse we had to be careful chomping down because occasionally we'd have to spit out the lead shot the duck had been shot with to make it a former duck. Anyway that is probably why I'm not a fan of duck. I think I may have to get over it because the duck I've had recently has been pretty tasty. This dish is no exception. I am going to use the superb word again. Superb. As Moira said to the waitress on the night, sensational. I think I counted her saying sensational at least 5 times. And it was.

I love having the recommended wines with each course. You get this lovely warm feeling all over. In some parts of the world they call that being pissed. Yup.
We also drank water. Initially we started with tap water but Melbourne tap water tastes funny. Not as bad as Adelaide's but it certainly isn't as tasteless, in a good way, as Sydney tap water. Actually come to think of it we switched to bottled mineral water the previous night at Grossi's and not here. Told you I had a few.

Highland venison like a warm carpaccio, horseradish mustard dressing, butternut pumpkin with honey and bitter chocolate beignet
2005 Dalwhinnie ‘Jacques Reymond Selection’ Shiraz, Pyrenees, Vic
Maybe I should have said the meal was inspired by Eurasian flavours and not just Asian. The venison is oh so tender. This is very French or possibly Italian. It is definitely from the Euro zone though.

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, Raymond Usseglio et Fils, Rhône Valley
One of the reasons I chose to do the full degustation was because of the suckling pig. Any time I see suckling pig on the menu, bang, I'm in. I don't know why baby pig is so tasty but it is. This is no exception. Again, I reckon this has Euro stamped all over it. There is a hint of Asia in the ingredients but it is all French or Italian or possibly even Spanish. It reminds me of one of the best meals of suckling pig I ever had in Madrid. Michelle, me, Matthew and Lucy (Matt and Lucy are friends from the UK) shared a suckling pig in what is claimed to be one of the oldest continuously run restaurants in Europe. Enough with the reminiscing this particular dish is splendid, superb and sensational.

Pacific Rim martini of pineapple, passionfruit and banana, liquorice ice cream and honeycomb
One of the other great things about degustation menus is there are usually two desserts. A martini of fruit and ice-cream couldn't be more refreshing. Delightful.

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
Two ice-creams and two mousse topped with a delicate piece of yummy chocolate sitting on top of a slice of something crunchy and caramelly. Yummy, yummy and yummy. And for good measure, yummy.

Yessiree Bob. Three thumbs up.

Look, a piccolo latte. I asked our waitress if she knew what a piccolo latte was. She said she did and she also said she thought it may be a Sydney thing. Funny that. We were starting to think that ourselves. Kudos for the staff at Jacques Reymond knowing what a piccolo latte is though. The evening just gets better and better. It wasn't a bad coffee either.

See the photo above Guy Grossi. Eight, count 'em, eight petit fours. For three people. I wish I could make petit fours. Thankfully I don't have to. All I have to do is earn enough money to eat out at places like Jacques Reymond to get my P4 fix occasionally.

The girls wandered out into the garden to check out the suitability of the garden for cocktails and canapes for any future functions that may or may not come up. Or maybe they just went outside for fresh air. Fresh air is overrated as far as I am concerned. It was a bit cold too.

I got to meet Jacques. After a few wines you need to visit the little boys room occasionally. To get to the dunny you have to pass the kitchen. It is fascinating watching the proceedings in a kitchen like this. Jacques is like a general firing off commands and orders and all your hear in reply is a chorus of "yes chef". He caught me watching so, embarrassed, I ducked off back to our table.
Later we heard the people at the table next to us ask if Jacques could come out to meet them and get a photo taken. The waiter told them that he was still in service so he was too busy at the moment and would possibly come out later.
Jacques does keep an eye on proceedings. Like a good general he surveys the battlefield every so often to see how the campaign is taking shape.
Towards the end of the evening, fortified by wine, I asked the waitress if I could go and take a photo of the kitchen for my blog. Absolutely no problem she said so she took me to the kitchen where Jacques was looked as if he was in wind down mode. I was asked if I wanted to have a photo taken with Jacques. He made no objection and I was thrilled. In fact Jacques motioned for me to come into the kitchen to pose in a better position than at the door. That is why we're posing in front of the dessert and pastry station while one of the chefs prepares the chocolate dessert. I told Jacques that we had a brilliant evening and that, thank you, his food was superb. I even told the guy making the desserts he was doing a good job.
And that is how to get your photo taken with the maestro himself. Thank you Jacques Reymond.

Jacques Reymond Cuisine du Temps is fine fine fine dining. It is definitely the best place we've eaten at in Melbourne and is up there with finest restaurants we've eaten at anywhere. From the moment you walk into the luxurious dining room to the final petit four the whole experience is exquisite. As each course came out we thought they couldn't sustain the standard that the previous course had set. When you have 8, 9 or 10 courses you can sometimes expect to have one or two duds. Not here. Every single dish was delicious. No duds. The excellent service is friendly and relaxed and the excellent wines chosen by the sommelier complement the meal perfectly. Jacques Reymond has been in this mansion for 16 years. Hopefully he will be here for many years to come. I want to go again and I can't wait.

Jacques Reymond Cuisine du Temps is at 78 Williams Road Prahran in Victoria. The Good Food Guide has awarded Jacques 3 Hats.

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