Jardin Tan is the sort of place where you could easily while away a perfect summers afternoon. Adjacent to the Observatory within the Tan, it has a casual, relaxed air, friendly staff, and a mellow vibe that encourages white wine by the multiples. Everything about Jardin Tan says, sit back and settle in. Except the food.
Maybe it was an off day. I desperately wanted the food to be matched with the atmosphere, enjoy the sunshine, tune in to some DJ spun tunes and imagine I really was in French Vietnam.
The fish skewers, tasty and well made, with lemongrass permeating through, but texturally awkward (although I have never been a fan of minced fish and these skewers left my opinion unchanged). The fried chicken was perfectly seasoned and gorgeously crispy, but the strips of chicken were a little mean in size, you’d have to question whether the chicken content justified calling them chicken. And the red duck curry was disappointingly lopsided in dimension. There was no chilli, or if there was, it was over-shadowed by the all-conquering sweetness of the dish which essentially turned it into, as the girl’s sister succinctly put it, chutney.
However, there were two outstanding highlights for me. The crispy duck pancake was simply stunning in colour and texture, a fraction meager on the duck, but that was easy to overlook. Each mouthful was a delicious reminder of the kind of dish Shannon Bennett is capable of producing. And finally, and most memorably, was the choc top ice cream for dessert. Simple, and familiar, it is has the potential to spark the city’s next nostalgia trend.
Jardin Tan is almost the perfect Sunday afternoon session, its just needs a little more flavour.
Royal Botanic Gardens/Birdwood Ave
South Yarra, Victoria
Phone: +61 3 90212111
Monday to Friday 9am until 4pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am until 4pm