Dine in Restaurant JAG once and you’ll immediately realise that they are far from fluff and flamboyance. Instead, it's a masterful presentation of culinary skill, made obvious in the restaurant's showcase of seasonality. Attuned to seasons, the spring menu ($298) is no exception. Presented in eight courses, it is a consistent display of Chef Jeremy Gillon’s flair and precision in his innovative cooking – after all, he did earn the restaurant a Michelin star within its first year.
The culinary ballad opens with an enchanting snow pea elixir, infused with ortis and crisp dehydrated sweet pea that's dusted with nori powder. The lightness of spring from the snow pea lingers on, and we can’t help but fantasise about having a bag of crisps to ourselves.
The second canapé of pickled cauliflower with thyme citron is a real treat for our senses. Crunch into the cauliflower's burst of sharp acidity – it's balanced with clean minerality and a tinge of nuttiness. The third canapé, a sand carrot biscuit, sandwiches purple carrot purée that's dusted with curry powder. A floral, earthy yet sweet expression that highlights the prized harvest of young carrots in spring.
Before a string of cold appetisers, we refresh our palates with an amuse-bouche: an infusion of bonito and bouleau that's poured over fresh broccoli and fermented broccolini. Expect light citrus notes and hints of green savouriness. The Celtuce (pictured above) takes centre stage as it is braised with verbena, cleverly done so to deliver a sweet, herbaceous flavour. An added touch of salinity from the goose barnacles helps develop this into a well-rounded dish.
Next, we see radish done four ways (confit, glazed, pickled, raw) where piquant spice and hints of sweet tangy flavours dominate. Laced with a robust brininess of caviar and hyssop, the combination primes the palate for a richer dish.
Look forward to a showcase of the versatile green pea next, expressed in three ways (sorbet, velouté, mayo jelly) and paired with langoustine. The creamy textures are accentuated with buttery citrus notes from the herb Melisse and the savoury sweetness of the crustacean. Followed by a warm tisane of fennel, carvi, and buckwheat, this marks the progression into the hot appetisers.
Easily one of the highlights, fava beans are interpreted in several variations (bean, foam, green water) together with smoked purple garlic and wild garlic. A lightly poached Boston lobster exudes buttery sweetness along with a creamy full-bodied garlicky finish.
Lauded as the star ingredient of the season, the green asparagus best features Chef Jeremy’s meticulous treatment of his ingredients. He studies it in detail with a view on how to approach each part, for instance, the head of the asparagus should be cooked differently from its stems. Prepared four ways (roasted, velouté, raw, and blanched) to honour its elegance and textural range, the earthy asparagus is elevated with a herb, tilleul, and complemented with foie gras.
The first main course unveils earthy Swiss chard and onions, paired with a delicate lean slice of turbot. Bound by a herb reduction made from Achilles, this ensemble delivers varying levels of sweetness that go well with the slight tartness of the pickled onions.
The appearance of artichokes (Brittany and purple) signifies the end of the mains. Purple artichoke is cooked barigoule style with orange skin and coriander seed, bringing forth a buttery citrus flavour. For even more flavour, the Brittany artichoke is braised in squid ink and sariette to achieve a round, nutty taste profile. When eaten with a fork-tender medium rare pigeon that's native to Brittany, it's a flavourful expression of Southern France in each bite.
Looking back upon his childhood memories of foraging in the forests with his grandfather, Chef Jeremy designed a pre-dessert course that arrives in a wooden box – to reveal blackcurrants and blueberries. But there's nothing simple about this. Scents of nature are made apparent from the moss and shrubs, all laden with berries. This bright and enchanting palate cleanser segues us into the finale, concluding with a dessert that features red hues of raspberry and aromatic Agastache rose.
As the enigmatic meal comes to an end, what stands out is that even after the masterful treatments for each protein, it doesn't take away the spotlight cast upon vegetables and the wild herbs foraged from the French mountains of Savoie. At Restaurant JAG, it makes for a truly eye-opening journey, and most guests will leave surprised at how much they enjoyed certain vegetables – even those who flinch upon seeing veggies on their plates.