78 Williams Road
Prahran VIC 3181
+61 3 9525 2178
Two weeks without a single entry – what’s going on, Libs?! I’ll tell YOU what’s been happening: essay deadlines, work and my hottie BFF visiting from interstate, that’s what. More importantly, when said BFF (that is, Martin) is in town, everything is put on hold and shoved to one side. Yep, including this food blog. A week with Martin meant a week of hard drinking, frivolous debauchery and lots of mischief. And because he happens to be friends with a foodie and because this foodie happen to live in a city called Melbourne, suffice to say that he got his fair share of foodie experiences that can never be emulated in his current city: Gold Coast, the foodie wasteland of Australia. So yep, his stomach got stuffed by a couple of plates of Footscray kebabs, his heart warmed by bowls of soothing Vietnamese noodle soups of various descriptors, his palate refined by visits to fine diners such as Shoya and his ‘steez’ factor elevated by visits to 1000 Pound Bend et al.
One foodie highlight was lunch at Jacques Reymond, one of Melbourne’s two three-hatted restaurants and one of my favourite places to eat. It was the place that Adam and I went to for our two-year anniversary dinner and I loved it immensely. Given that poor Marty had to contend with years of eating chicken parmas with eggs on top (no, seriously, that’s what they eat on the Gold Coast!), I figured that treating him to some proper, fancy food was the least I could do to save this poor, deprived soul. And so after spending the morning on Chapel Street, we arrived at the grand mansion on Williams Road that was Jacques Reymond. During the day, the restaurant was less imposing and lot more quiet, but nevertheless did not fail to impress. Our server was an awesome guy who went by the name of ‘Gareth.’ He led us to a secluded room facing north, that looked like it could have been a library once upon a time ago. The fireplace provided a nice comforting touch to the already cozy atmosphere, Gareth provided assistance with wine selection and Marty provided enough noise and inappropriate behaviour to almost make me facepalm myself.
At lunchtime, you are given a menu of 10 savoury items, and something like five desserts. There are no clear boundaries between entrees and mains, everything is similarly portioned (read: small). $55 will give you two courses, $70 three and $85 four. And no matter how little or much you’ve had, you still get coffees and petits fours at the end of the meal. So after Marty and I chose our two savoury dishes (while deciding to split a dessert), Gareth walked off and came back with some lovely warm bread. Cue lashings of butter and you had me at putty. Aside: Once upon a time, Jacques Reymond was renowned for being Nazi-ish when it came to diners taking photos of the food. No one was allowed to take photos for some reason and so food bloggers had to resort to stealth photo-taking. Not anymore though. I asked Gareth if it was okay for me to take photos and he was like, “Yeah, absolutely, go for it.” And so out came my DSLR.
Martin’s #1: watercress soup (‘like a vichyssoise’ says the menu), marrow tempura, tartare vinaigrette. Because Marty knew that I would quote/paraphrase him when writing this up, he took one sip and boldly declared that his soup tasted like ‘vaginas.’ Sigh. But no seriously, it was a lovely, rich soup that had a really subtle taste that would have been boring on its own. Alternate between bites of soft marrow covered in crispy tempura batter and sips of a very bold and peppery drop of Yabby Lake shiraz, however, and you have yourself a fantastic trio that is just as cohesive as The Three Musketeers. He loved it. I loved it.
My #1: scallop and prawn dumpling with apple veil, dashi and apple broth, autumn salad with shoyu shiitake and sesame. Asian influences came into play in this beautifully delicate dish. I’m not sure why they called it a ‘dumpling’ because there was no skin holding the fillings (which were pieces of scallop and prawn) together. But whatever. One ‘dumpling’ sat in a melodic yet slightly tangy dashi and apple broth like a frog in a pond, while the other one prettified itself with a colourful light autumn salad consisting of shiitake mushrooms a sprig of watercress and gently drizzled with a shoyu and sesame dressing. It was prettier (and tasted better) than a Monet.
Martin’s #2: Fresh-made pappardelle with ‘our own’ chorizo, pickled shallots and baked white onions, snails and compound butter. Although the dish was as pretty as a Renoir (okay, I’ll stop name-dropping French artists now), I was expecting it to be well, bigger. Or at least have more than three strands of pappardelle. Oh goodness knows how much I LOVE pappardelle. More than I love Marty, that’s for sure. The velvety pasta strands contrasted nicely with the gritty texture of the spicy chorizo. Meanwhile, the snails provided something slightly chewy to nibble on … sorry, that’s the nicest thing I can say about them – they didn’t really add much in terms of taste and Martin did say that eating them was like eating ‘rubber’. Apart from the snails, the dish was another lovely one. Simple, yet beautiful.
My #2: Yellow fin tuna and miso dressing, chlorophyll veil, red cabbage relish with fresh grated wasabi. I chose this dish because I love fish and hey, any excuse to cram the proteins in to make my muscles nice and sexy, right? Once again, ‘simple’ made an appearance and so did ‘Asian influences.’ A generous chunk of tuna steak was seared for the briefest of moments and then belted with a tasteless but pretty grass jelly (pfft, ‘chlorophyll’). A small sprinkling of piquant red cabbage relish mixed in with fried shallots provided some crunch to the dish while fresh wasabi gave it a bit of kick.
Mmmmm pinkness and moistness…
Given how small the dishes were, you’d think that we’d still be peckish when Gareth cleared away our plates. Instead, we were full. But not full enough for dessert so we ordered a serving of white chocolate parfait, vanilla sabayon, almond crisps and passionfruit puree. Given how delicate our savouries were, the bold flavours of the dessert almost did my head in. Thankfully, we were sharing so that took a bit of edge off (and you know me, I’m not much of a sweet tooth). And thankfully, the tangy warm passionfruit puree took some of the heat (or should I say “sweet”) off the otherwise brilliant white chocolate parfait and the soft as clouds but deadly sweet sabayon.
Petits fours and coffees were offered as we paid the bill. While the petits fours were accepted (a sticky raspberry jelly-like substance that had equal amounts of tartness and sweetness), coffee was declined. After all, I was still buzzing from the long macchiato I had at Hardware Societe that morning and two sips of Martin’s brother’s potent coffee with three effking sugars only two hours ago. Damn. We both left Jacques Reymond, pretty content with our meal. Actually, more than content. The food was lovely, the atmosphere cozy and Gareth was the best waiter ever (friendly, knowledgable, unpretentious and even laughed when effking Queenslander Marty asked if he could throw his bread and butter into the fireplace – “No, you will burn the restaurant down.”). Jacques Reymond, the perfect place for a quiet lunch on a cool Autumn day in Melbourne. They’ll even be nice to loud and obnoxious Queenslanders too.