Saturday, 29 June 2013

Jeremy's Bistro - tucked away in Albert Street away from the hustle and bustle

There are restaurants around town with a high profile, the type of place that everyone knows about and everyone wants to visit.  Then there are restaurants that are much more 'low key', ones that you might walk past a hundred times before you realise that you've just passed a dining spot.  Jeremy's definitely falls into the 'low key' category.  In fact, when I mentioned to friends that I was heading off to Jeremy's for lunch, the common answer was.... "where's that?"

It's not surprising that not many people know about Jeremy's, it's not in a 'hot spot' of dining and is located midway down Albert Street, heading towards the Botanical Gardens.  Jeremy's neighbours are 7-Eleven's, Skate Shops and Hair Salons.  It doesn't stand out and looks very understated from the street, but it's not until you step through the front doors that a restaurant materialises.

Jeremy's is quite a cosy restaurant and is reminiscent of a little French Bistro, with exposed brick walls and little tables with white linen that are squished close together.  It's dominated through the centre by a serving counter, which doubles as wine storage and bar and splits the restaurant into four sections, with a casual front area and more formal dining to the sides and back.

I was catching up with a friend and mentor for lunch, the last opportunity I had before heading off on a month long holiday to New York (more about that in a future post).  I had been trying to catch up with PS for some months, but our busy schedules kept getting in the way, and was happy that we would be connecting before I left.  As usual with our catch-ups, I was early and was shown to our table to look over the menu.

One thing that perplexed me when being seated was the space in the restaurant where the waiter placed me.  The restaurant was practically empty and had a number of lovely open spaces available, but I was seated at the most cramped part of the restaurant, down the side and next to the bar area.  Not only was the space cramped, but the table was tiny too.  I figured that it was going to be a busy day, so didn't question the seat, but by the end of the meal and still no other customers in the restaurant, it was kind of annoying.  The second thing that PS said to me, after hello, was what's up with the cramped table and spot?

While the look and feel of Jeremy's is French Bistro, the menu is very much Modern Australian and had quite a few options that looked interesting.  Perhaps the best part of the menu, and something I have never seen before, was the option to buy as many scallops as you wanted as a starter.  Similar to purchasing oysters, you could get scallops for $5 dollars a pop, with a two per person minimum.  I thought this was just superb, so the starter for me was five seared scallops which came on potato blini with a sauce vierge.  I was actually pretty disappointed with the scallops on the day, which had almost no caramelisation whatsoever and were slightly undercooked.  What was worse was the potato blini (like a little pancake), which were dry and didn't compliment the scallops very well.  The flavour from the sauce vierge was nice, but not enough to save the scallops.

PS is looking after his weight these days and decided that he would jump straight into a main and forgo entree.  After perusing the menu for quite some time, he decided that the beef eye filled with slow roasted beetroot, truffle mash and jus would be ideal.  There was just one little adjustment PS asked for, the removal of the beetroot, which he doesn't eat and after confirming with the wait staff that this was possible, ordered the beef.  When the beef was delivered, the first thing that we noticed was that the dish came with the roast beetroot included, very disappointing.  If we were not on a tight time schedule, PS would have sent this back to the kitchen, but instead he used some of the truffle mash to partition off the beetroot.  That aside, the beef was cooked a perfect medium rare, was incredibly tender and had amazing flavour.  On the downside, the jus that came with the beef was mixed in with the beetroot and he couldn't eat it.  I sampled the jus and found it to be delightful, rich and sticky and thought it would have worked wonderfully with the beef.  That said, it was PS's meal and it didn't come how he asked, which is a cardinal mistake.

After considering and then discounting a number of main options, I finally settled on the risotto with Blackforest ham, fresh peas, asparagus, mint and lemon.  I'm pretty particular about my risottos, if it's not right, then I'm not happy and the second it was placed in front of me I knew it just wasn't right.  The risotto looked very dry to the naked eye and when I had my first mouthful, there was none of the silky smoothness of a perfect risotto evident.  I also found the balance of flavours to be out, with a very strong lemon flavour infused throughout the whole dish that detracted from the other flavours.  I also found that the crisp piece of Blackforest ham was incredibly salty and instead of one big chunk, I would have liked to see this broken up and spread throughout the risotto.  Overall, not a great risotto.

We contemplated dessert for a bit, but didn't see anything on the dessert menu that was very exciting and decided to skip it altogether.

While the food was disappointing and the seating arrangements puzzling, the service from our waitress was pretty good.  She was friendly and helpful, but her great service was let down by one glaring issue.....  The main course that should have had the beetroot removed.  You often wonder if this is an issue in the kitchen or if the waitress just didn't write down the order correctly, but it is a big issue and can't really be forgiven.  It it was an actual allergy that caused harm, this would have been a major issue.

I'm not sure if this was an off day, or if there are bigger issues afoot at Jeremy's.  My partner SC has been there a few times through work a while ago and thought it was OK but I wasn't impressed.  The sign out the front of Jeremy's proudly displays that it was established in 1999, so it's been around for fourteen years.  Perhaps Jeremy's is destined to be a 'low key' restaurant for it's entire history?  For me, I think a restaurant that positions itself in the price range of Jeremy's should be striving for much more than mediocrity, especially in this very competitive restaurant market.  Otherwise I fear it won't be around in another fourteen years time.


The complimentary bread was warm and fresh, probably the best part of the meal.... unfortunately
A lovely dining area just behind us
Another lovely dining spot at the front of the restaurant
We were squished into a table by the side of the bar..... In an empty restaurant!  Not good form
Jeremy's had a pretty good looking bar area
There was alcohol in every available spot in the restaurant 

Jeremy's Bistro on UrbanspoonJeremy's

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