Jacques Reymond

78 Williams Road, Prahran, VIC

Timeless: Like all of the dishes at Jacques Reymond, the King George whiting epitomises flavour, not fashion.
Timeless: Like all of the dishes at Jacques Reymond, the King George whiting epitomises flavour, not fashion. Photo: Ken Irwin

It's hard to open a restaurant, but it's much harder to keep it open, let alone keep it relevant, enticing and hospitable for 21 years. That's the achievement of Jacques Reymond at his grand 19th-century villa: his food is elegant, creative and beautiful, and a meal in these sumptuous high-ceilinged chambers is a special occasion, even if it doesn't coincide with a birthday, proposal or anniversary.

Fine dining can be clubby, and infrequent diners may feel at sea. That shouldn't be the case here because the energetic Jacques Reymond team exudes hospitality and respect. You'll feel welcome even if you don't fling around words such as ''togarashi'' and ''yuzu'' or relish the opportunity of spending $200 (or even $2010) on a bottle of wine. Eating here is expensive, but this isn't a normal night out: it's like dining in a happy bubble of luxury and plenty.

There are two menu choices: a nine-course degustation (including a vegetarian tour de force) or choosing four to six entree-size courses (plus dessert). I find the degustation a more relaxing experience.

Eating at Jacques Reymond is like dining in a happy bubble of luxury and plenty.
Eating at Jacques Reymond is like dining in a happy bubble of luxury and plenty. Photo: Ken Irwin

The current parade includes a soothing shiitake mushroom broth of conversation-stopping clarity, scented with lemon balm and dotted with clams. A dish that counterpoints cuttlefish and chicken skin is a dance of salty texture. Rich, rare beef is teased by burnt onion and coffee. A fancy rice and plum pudding is augmented by a pot pourri of native leaves: it's witty sensory play.

The restaurant's longevity is impressive, but perhaps an even bigger wonder is that its 60-year-old namesake is still evolving.

The French chef isn't a trend-spotter. Rather, he obsesses about flavour and is inspired by produce, drawing on French traditions and the energy of his young team to create food that's contemporary but immune to fashion. I suspect he's the only chef in Australia to have owned a jaguar - that was when he was cooking in Brazil, and only until kitty took a few chunks out of a colleague. The big cat is long gone but Reymond's sense of adventure remains.

Occasionally I have felt overwhelmed by meals here, by the myriad ingredients and the ever-unfurling number of courses in each meal. But dishes on the current menu are relatively concise and the whole experience is warm, winning and delightfully digestible. Here's to the next 21 years.

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

 

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78 Williams Road, Prahran, VIC

  • 03 9525 2178
  • Cuisine - Contemporary
  • Prices - Lunch, $60-$120; dinner, $135-$185
  • Features - Licensed
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
  • Opening Hours - Thurs-Fri, noon-1.30pm; Tues-Sat, 6.30-9pm
  • Author - Dani Valent
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2 comments so far

  • please don't call him a 'French Chef'. French by origin, he certainly doesn't cook french cuisine. In my opinion it's pretentious but at the very least it's asian-fusion, not french cuisine. The quality control and all that is good but flavour wise pretty average. You pay so much yet get something an asian mum can cook well.

    Commenter
    reality is a dream
    Location
    melbourne
    Date and time
    May 06, 2013, 10:06AM
  • I was treated to a degustation dinner at Jacques Reymond some years ago and I still have fond memories of the warm welcome, superb food, the friendly, understated yet attentive and exemplary service, and the wonderful ambiance with well spaced tables for private conversations. They deserve 5 stars.

    The heck with free bread, we could have just eaten the complimentary warm gruyere choux pastries all night.

    Every dinner bowl and plate was returned to the kitchen almost spotlessly clean. It was so delicious.

    An example of the intuitive service was the waiter seeing I'd eaten all the well cooked areas around my medium-rare steak and left the centre.

    Sensing I like my steak well cooked, he whisked my plate to the kitchen to recook it to medium, and I polished it off.

    Among the dishes, there was also a delicate broth with lettuce and a piece of pork belly, and a selection of ice-creams including lemon myrtle.

    Sure it's not a cheap restaurant, but it's great for a special occasion and to treat someone you love.

    Commenter
    Tristan
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    May 06, 2013, 1:41PM

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