Arintjis

>French chef Jacques Reymond has lived and worked in Melbourne for almost 25 years. His eponymous restaurant in Windsor is one of the top restaurants in the city. A few years ago he opened a new, more casual restaurant in the city’s Federation Square, Arintji.

We ate there on a weeknight, and the place was full of after-work functions, birthday dinners, couples and small groups of friends. I arrived first and ordered a glass of Jacques Reymond Selection shiraz, from the Victorian Pyrenees.

The decor is modern and low-key, and you can see clearly into the open-plan kitchen. The menu is described as pan-national or modern Australian in the reviews I have read, but there is a distinct Asian slant to most dishes. Orlando started with croquettes of chorizo, spanish hard cheese and potato aioli and my starter was a warm salad of green beans, olives and feta (alright, these dishes are more Mediterranean but keep reading). Both dishes were very small but perfectly balanced in terms of taste and texture. So far, so good.

The main courses were a mixture of delight and disappointment. My stir fry of pork, shiitake mushrooms, kim chi, water chestnuts and rice drops was divine: a generous bowlful of dark and delicious goodness. Orlando’s roast duck noodle salad with ginger, sesame and soy was so small he called the waiter back to enquire whether he had been given a starter portion by mistake. The waiter explained to Orlando that the dish he had ordered as a main was actually from the starters list, and that the noodle salad was the correct size. It was gone in a few delicious mouthfuls – and I had to give him some of my stir fry to keep him from wasting away.
Later we checked the menu online and Orlando’s tiny dish was actually listed in the “Mains” section. Admittedly it was one of the cheaper dishes, but at $15 it was neither value for money nor a genuine attempt to satisfy a normal human’s hunger pangs.
Lee’s scotch fillet was perfectly cooked and amply proportioned, as was Daniel’s pork cutlet with piquillo pepper and grape couscous.

The evening ended with three of us satisfied by both the quality and quantity of what we had been served, and one slightly hungry individual who was left wanting more.

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