Thursday, June 02, 2011

May 28, 2011: Jacques Reymond

Update 31/12/2014: Jacques Reymond closed down late last year. Its replacement, Woodland House, still does vegan friendly fine dining, while Jacques himself has taken over a pub in Prahran - we've yet to visit either place.

Since moving to Melbourne (and starting a food blog), Cindy and I have started a vague tradition of going somewhere upmarket for each of our birthdays. Along the way we've sampled some of Melbourne's fanciest degustations but until this year we'd never made it anywhere in the very top tier: the three-hatted places from the Good Food Guide. That's because in the time we've been in Melbourne, this has basically been two places: Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond. Given the rave reviews from Carla and K this year it became pretty clear that Jacques knows how to cater for vegos, so we booked in to celebrate me making it to my early-mid-thirties.

Jacques Reymond is something of a Melbourne institution, having been running in a grand old mansion in Prahran for nearly twenty years. The fit-out is stately and stylish, all grand mirrors and open fires rather than the industrial-chic favoured by some of the newer high-end places. Similarly, the staff are friendly but slightly formal - they're not here to be your friend, they're here to serve. The deference with which they stood aside when three of us converged on the same doorway made me feel a lot more wealthy and powerful than I actually am.

As vegos, you basically have to order the degustation - 6 savoury courses, 2 desserts, petit fours and this free appetiser - a light and puffy choux pastry with a beautiful Gruyère filling.

The first course on the menu was: Soymilk, corn and watercress soup, potato foam, shiitake kakiage and panko cheese.

The soup itself was strongly flavoured, with the bitterness of the watercress dominant. The tower of goodies in the middle added the requisite saltiness and sweetness, making for an intriguing dish. Having done some googling, it seems that kakiage means some sort of tempura - I didn't think the mushroom had any kind of batter on it at all, but the little cheese fritter may have.

Next up was K's favourite dish: new style gazpacho with pure natural tomato jelly, beignets of Australian bush tomatoes, cucumber and melon, a champagne foam.

The little jelly tubes were filled with a concentrated tomato mush that was intense and sweet (even this tomato-sceptic was impressed!), while the beignet seemed to us to be filled with potato rather than bush tomatoes. Unless bush tomatoes are white and creamy like potato fritters. In which case, mark me down as pro-bush tomato. The accompanying foam didn't do a lot for me, while the little slivers of cucumber and melon added some lightness but were mostly there for presentation purposes I'd say.

Next up: Flavours of Autumn: cannelloni of beetroot and red cabbage relish, Mount Buffalo hazelnuts and orange oil, saffron rouille dressing.

The canneloni filling was a sweet beetroot-based delight, as were the candied hazelnuts and the rice. The saffron dressing and the two dots of super-concentrated coffee reduction were both delicious, but both got a bit lost if you tried to combine them with the strong sweetness of the canneloni. The cabbage leaf canneloni itself was a nice idea, but they were a bit hard to cut through, which meant I quickly ruined the gorgeous presentation.

Lacquered marrow zucchini in masterstock, exotic mushrooms and fresh pappardelle. Tasmanian wasabi espuma and ponzu juices.

The sauce in this dish was probably my favourite flavour of the night - citrussy and rich (we were both mopping it up with our bread). The green vegetable (I'm not sure what it is) had soaked it up and was just wonderful, as was the fresh piece of pasta. Cindy and I each had some textural issues with the rest of the dish - I'm not a big fan of zucchini, so the marrow was a bit soggy for my tastes. Meanwhile, Cindy doesn't really enjoy the gelatinous texture of the fungus pieces that were hidden at the bottom of the dish, so we both ended up with slightly mixed feelings. Still - that sauce was to die for.

Our protein for the night: Steamed silken tofu like a waldorf salad, crispy enoki, spiced walnuts and compressed apples, oloroso sherry vinaigrette.

This was one of my favourite dishes - wonderfully crispy little mushroom pieces, lightly sauced tofu, little pieces of sweet apple and some crunchy spiced nuts.

Our final savoury: Eggwhite omelette of turmeric carrots and pickled chokos, grated daikon and chilli ketchup sorbet.

The ketchup sorbet was as fun as it sounds, and actually complemented the omelette really well. The bean sprout and carrot pieces inside the omelette were very lightly cooked and quite crunchy, while the omelette was light and fluffy. The little smear of orange stuff behind the omelette (maybe the pickled choko?) didn't do a lot for me at all - I probably should have combined its saltiness with the ketchup to lighten it a bit.

Onto dessert: Iced coffee and chocolate martini, Tahitian vanilla, caramelised nuts.

The bottom of this was a tangy orange jelly dotted with fresh strawberry chunks, with creamy layers of vanilla and hazelnut in the middle and then a big dollop of chocolate sorbet and coffee foam on top. Frustrating moment: the spoon they give you can't fit into the very bottom of the martini glass. (Solution: you can use the handle of the spoon to dig out the last bit of jelly deliciousness!)

Second dessert: Deconstructed cheese cake: galette of fresh Timboon fromage blanc l ‘artisan, warm fruit pudding, mountain bush pepper berries ice cream.

This was probably the winning dish of the night - a great variety of textures and flavours that worked together perfectly. The bush pepper berry ice cream in particular won Cindy's heart with its extra complexity of flavour.

Finally, petits fours with a flat white for me and a lemon verbena tea for Cindy. These were nice little sweet treats to wind things up, but I ended the night just wanting to grab a handful of those chocolate truffles - so rich and dark and addictive.

We had a lovely night at Jacques Reymond - lots of great food, excellent wine and efficient service. It was great to get a few more exotic dishes (no beetroot and goat's cheese combo for starters) - it's clear that Jacques enjoys playing around with all kinds of vegies. There were a few slightly bum notes - a baffling over-use of foams (seriously, 6/8 dishes had foam!) and the marrow dish didn't really work for either of us. But the desserts here more than made up for it - probably the best set of desserts we've had.

At $135 for 8 courses, Jacques Reymond is at the upper end of the the degustation price range. And, while it's definitely a great meal, I'm not sure it's better than the slightly cheaper options at Cutler & Co or Circa.


For a restaurant that used to politely ask bloggers to put their cameras away, Jacques Reymond sure has been thoroughly blogged.

It's great to see that Jacques Reymond is down with vegan food - In the mood for noodles and Easy as Vegan Pie both raved about their vegan experiences. It's also got a good vegetarian rep, with The Age featuring it as the best vegetarian fine-dining experience in Melbourne.

The rest of the food-blogging world has gone nuts for Jacques, with raves at: Tastebuds Galore, Fat Pom Pom, The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar (twice), Gastrology, A Food Story, For the Foodie, Moving Beast, I'm Hungry, August Diners, Megalomaniac, Double-cooked, Shane on the go, Munching in Melbourne, My Gourmet Feast, Eat Cook Drink, Ms I-Hua, Bellygood, Trish eats, Slicing Almonds and Zesting Lemons, Jules Gourmond, Greedy Diva, Catty, Totally Addicted to Taste, A Cynic is Only a Frustrated Optimist, Dave plus food, Gluttony gluttony, Tummy Rumbles, Inside Cuisine, Bombolone blog and New Epicurean

Only 1001 dinners, 1001 nights, Simon Food Favourites and Niche were a bit disappointed by the experience.


Jacques Reymond

78 Williams Road, Prahran
9525 2178
veg degustation $135 (with wines: $230)

Accessibility: The standard entry includes stairs but there is likely a wheelchair-accessible alternative. Space between tables is very reasonable and, of course, there's full table service. Toilets are accessible enough, although I didn't notice a specific disabled toilet.


  1. Happy Birthday Michael! This looks like a perfect birthday dinner and it's fantastic that they will cater for vegans too.

    I have just handed out some stylish blogger awards and chose you guys as one of my bloggers -

  2. Oh wow! Thanks for that, I've often wondered about the food there. When I finally get some more pennies together, I shall have to check it out too, especially knowing they cater to veggo's.
    All the best,

  3. What a lovely birthday. I went there years ago and wasn't impressed - perhaps it is time for another try. Happy birthday!

  4. Wow, they sure do like foam!

  5. lol just got to the part of your post where you commented on the foam yourself.

  6. What A great birthday meal. I've been lucky enough to have been to lots of lunches there when I haven't had to pay the $$$$. I was surprised to see 1001 dinners not liking it but it is very delicate food and maybe the meat eaters palate needs to readjust.

    My vegan dinner I mention will be anounced soon I hope.

  7. always enjoy my vicarious visits to these fancy places through reading your reviews - was laughing at the thought of you in posh restaurant eating dessert from the wrong end of your spoon!