L'Hotel Gitan, Melbourne

Author: Wendy Hargreaves

"Retirement" is a relative term for Jacques Reymond.

A year after closing his long-running Windsor restaurant, he has teamed up with three of his children to open L'Hotel Gitan in a Prahran pub.

But Reymond won't be working the stoves in the open kitchen at the centre of the newly renovated hotel. Instead, he'll be writing the menu and keeping an eye on things while former Jacques Reymond chef Adam Smith leads the cooking charge, backed by two sous chefs from Reymond's fine diner.

"All of the focus is on the kitchen, a big open kitchen right in the middle of the establishment," explains Reymond. "People will be able to sit all around the kitchen at the same level as the chef, so that they'll be able to communicate easily."

The kitchen will feature a rotisserie big enough to cook a whole lamb à la broche and fit 16 chickens. There will be daily pie specials, sweet and savoury crêpes, and quality salumi sliced to order.

The pub, which formerly traded as Hotel Max, has been given a thorough makeover courtesy of architects SJB, with an emphasis on the building's Art Deco heritage, including the copper and brass detailing in the bar, the area around the kitchen and parts of the 45-seat dining room.

As at the family's Bistro Gitan in South Yarra, Reymond's daughter Nathalie will run the business side while sons Edouard and Antoine will be in charge front of house. "It has been a family dream to do something in an old pub for a long time," Antoine says. "We wanted to create what is already great about a pub, and expand on it further."

L'Hotel Gitan is due to open on 28 November, 32 Commercial Rd, Prahran, Vic, (03) 9999 0990.

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