Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

The kitchen is at the heart of the dining room

It didn’t take long for noted chef Jacques Reymond to get back into the swing of things. Closing his eponymous fine-dining establishment just on a year ago (which became Woodland House), Reymond is now overseeing the classic bistro/brasserie fare at L’Hotel Gitan in Prahran. It’s a family affair with several of the Reymond clan involved in the venture; they’ve taken over the art deco Hotel Max and accented the period features for a light, bright and quite noisy dining room with the open kitchen at its heart.

Venturing there to celebrate a belated birthday for NutsAboutTown, the front of the room echoes its history as a pub (complete with television screens showing sport). There are seats along the bar, high tables for a quick drink and snack but the seats along the open kitchen (see the picture at left) and at the back of the room are earmarked for diners. There seems to be no shortage of takers; the available spots filled up very quickly and the room was abuzz.

Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband, arriving early from another appointment, had already partaken of some frites and a delightful bottle of Pol Roger champagne (a winning combination). We moved to our table and hungrily eyed the menu, which is divided into ‘petite’, ‘moyen’ and ‘plat principal’. There were a great many of the small dishes we liked the sound of and they shortly graced our table.

First up was the picture at the top of this blog, a duck liver parfait. Honestly the only way to describe this is, well, ‘parfait’. It was incredibly smooth and delectable, served with an amazing licorice chutney. A perfect start.

Next, we had croquettes made from smoked Morteau sausage (a pork sausage traditionally made in the Franche-Comté region of France), with cheese, chives and aioli. Even though there were only two in this serve, we’d ordered so much, we decided to forgo the offer of upsizing. Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband shared and again, very delectable morsels they were.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Smoked Morteau sausage croquettes

This was followed by Moreton Bay Bugs, a very Australian delicacy, served tempura style with harissa dressing and a few chickpeas thrown in for good measure. The bug tails are a stronger flavour than, say, lobster or crayfish and Greedy Girl felt they didn’t need the batter. Still, they very quickly went down the hatch.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Tempura Moreton Bay bug tails

Next up we tucked into ‘Pork Indochine’. These were pork belly sliders in a milk bun with pickled Chinese cabbage and mustard. Very, very edible but, such is our wont, we always compare such dishes to the bar buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar – and very few come close.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Pork belly sliders

We would have been very happy to stop there and head into the night. Not much chance of that, as we’d all ordered main courses. NutsAboutTown chose the duck magret. This was ‘three pepper’ glazed duck breast with legumes pot au feu (a traditional slow cooking approach) and a cider vinaigrette. The duck was well cooked and not at all chewy.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Three pepper duck magret

Gluttonous husband chose flathead. This was rock flathead fillets from Lakes Entrance (a noted fishing destination in the Gippsland area of Victoria) served with sugar snap salad, rouille (a typical garlicky, spicy sauce with fish) and a pea and kohlrabi puree. Flathead isn’t Greedy Girl’s favourite fish but gluttonous husband said he enjoyed it as a rare treat, even if he thought it could have done without the crumbing.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Rock Flathead

Greedy Girl was hankering for a steak. She chose a Cape Grim grass fed porterhouse from Tasmania, served with a bearnaise sauce and, sigh, more frites. She ordered the steak medium rare. When it arrived, it was medium-to-well. Greedy Girl’s not sure whether the wait staff couldn’t actually hear her during the ordering process. Despite only a passing pinkness to the meat, it was still edible. She consumed about half of the serving and her request to take the rest home (where it would later feature in a very nice mushroom wrap) was readily actioned. The bearnaise was OK. Unlike some she’s had in restaurants around the world you could actually taste the vinegar reduction that is its hallmark. The frites were virtually untouched (as we’d already chowed down on them before NutsAboutTown arrived) and we also had a couple of sides.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Steak frites

Our first side was a gratin dauphinois. It looked impressive but the consistency was very runny and the dish didn’t prove outrageously enticing. It was just a bit too sloppy. That’s a challenge with this dish – it can often be too dry; this had gone too far the other way.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Gratin dauphinois

Our last side was a witlof salad. We’d already checked with the wait staff about avoiding any traces of nuts and she reported back that this salad normally came with a hazelnut dressing. That was withheld. The witlof was combined with some other leaves, palm sugar, cucumber, zucchini and orange. Perfectly nice but Greedy Girl was full to bursting by this point.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Witlof, palm sugar, cucumber, zucchini and orange salad

NutsAboutTown was the only one with enough room to stump up for dessert. She chose a Peach Melba. This was served with black venere rice, lemon myrtle ice-cream and caramelised popcorn on top of the peach. There was also a sprinkling of berries. It looked like a big serving but NutsAboutTown was up to the challenge.

Restaurant reviews L'Hotel Gitan

Peach Melba

And so, we prepared to depart. The place was absolutely jumping and looked full of locals, with a number of families in evidence. It’s clearly struck a chord in the area.

L’Hotel Gitan was a good experience. If we’d just stayed for champagne and the selection of starter plates, we would have left raving. The bigger plates certainly didn’t have the same wow factor. There’s a good mix of bistro favourites and some more inventive dishes.

L’Hotel Gitan

32 Commercial Road, Prahran

L'Hotel Gitan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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