The Playmaker
Let's play
  • It's Saturday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Melbourne
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?

L'Hotel Gitan

From Paris to Prahran, this is Jacques Reymond's attempt at the French gastropub.
By Jo Rittey
February 11, 2015
By Jo Rittey
February 11, 2015

Fusing classy food with a casual pub buzz was Jacques Reymond's vision for his latest offering, L'Hotel Gitan. Monsieur Blanc has introduced a bohemian 'gypsy' twist to his long running Michelin-style repertoire. It's French food, but it's not overwhelming. Accessible and appealing, L'Hotel is the epitome of the gastropub concept he was after: refined dining in a smart casual setting. And the setting is certainly beautiful. The art deco bones of this stunning building have been primped and preened to produce a marble, brass, mirrored and tiled thing of beauty.

The waitstaff are smartly dressed and know their way around the menu, recommending appropriate combinations and a number of dishes. It is always impressive to have a desired style or flavour of wine met with a confident and perfect suggestion — and this was absolutely the case at L'Hotel Gitan.

Head chef Adam Smith and his team execute a menu that encourages sharing. There are three sections: petite, moyen and plat principal. The petite section is made up of single-serve tasters, from $3.50 for a freshly shucked oyster or $4.50 for a crisp potato croquette subtly flavoured with the smokiness of Morteau (a sausage from the Jura Mountain region) and served simply with aioli, right through to the $20 San Daniele prosciutto offering. Moreton Bay bugs are a lovely way to start. Well worth the $7.50 each with their light, crunchy tempura batter, harissa mayo, a paint stroke of baba ganoush and a sprinkling of chickpeas. Moyen offers slightly more substantial dishes, such as the seared scallop salad with salmon tartare and kingfish ceviche cured in passionfruit ($23) and Gitan steak tartare ($18): a freshly sliced beef fillet in a slightly spicy dressing, served in crisp lettuce leaves. As a plat principal, you have a choice of duck magret, a potato and Beaufort terrine, and a deconstructed Nicoise salad of tuna done three ways. You can also pick your cut of grilled beef served with fries, from $29 for the eye fillet through to $85 for 1 kilogram of Ranger's Valley bavette.

Desserts are all $16 with the exception of the cafe liegeois, a fancy pants sundae of coffee ice cream, Kahlua biscuit, white chocolate and caramelised puffed rice. Otherwise you might like a spiced creme brulee, a vacherin glace, or a simple berry tart.

The wine list features some local wines, but has a far greater variety of European labels on offer. Beer is where the attempt at neighbourhood pub doesn't quite make it. There are only three beers and a cider on tap.

L'Hotel Gitan promotes itself as offering simple, French family fare. I'm not sure it really achieves the simplicity it sets out for — except for the sparse portion sizes — and with the refined exotic twist comes prices that really are a little high for an average family meal. But this, and the fact that the restaurant is halfway down Commercial Road between Chapel and Hoddle, doesn't stop the hordes. Do make a booking, because evenings are busy and the more casual non-reservation bar side fills up quickly. And don't expect more than a 'petite' taste outside dining times of 12-3pm and 6pm onwards.

  •   shares
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter Pixel