From a cosy 16-seater with mood lighting at Duxton Road, Restaurant JAG has transformed into a bigger, brighter and fuller form at Robertson Quay.
The one-Michelin-starred restaurant is now situated on the second floor of STPI, a space previously occupied by Sprmrkt. JAG can now seat up to 40 people and also boasts a private room.
While the Duxton Road restaurant took inspiration from an “alpine chalet” in line with chef Jeremy Gillon’s cooking philosophy of exploring mountain herbs, the new space, with its airy ceiling and light-flooded windows, couldn’t be more different. Instead, “This is a bright countryside house,” said co-owner and managing director Anant Tyagi, who’s also a familiar face in the dining room.
Although they can take justifiable pride in what they achieved at the Duxton Road location, it left them with “checkboxes that remained unchecked,” Tyagi said.
He brought up examples of restaurants in other parts of the world where “you walk in and you can immediately tell what that person is doing – it’s the universe you walk into. You know this place celebrates kinki, or you walk in and know that this place celebrates aubergine. For us, at Duxton Road, that was lacking.”
With the chance to reinvent the dining room, “We wanted to create the experience, before a person has a single item of food, that they are in a world of vegetables.”
Gone are the starched tablecloths and upholstered chairs – the new JAG is a much homier space. “To celebrate vegetables, we wanted to build something that feels like a garden house – wood, rattan, greenery, natural light, with a touch of elegance,” like the feeling you get when you visit houses in the countryside two hours’ drive out of Paris, Gillon said.
Gillon himself was born in Normandy and in his fond recollections of his grandmother’s traditional dishes, it’s always the vegetables that stand out. In her pot-au-feu, for instance, the carrots, onions, celeriac, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes hold the most memories for him. “I have the recipe, but I can never make it the same,” he said.
Chestnut takes centre stage, as it does in all his Autumn menus in various forms – this time with different textures, accompanied by halibut in green coffee stock, with coffee and aubepine oil. “As you know, we change our menu every season, so if you come next Autumn, you will have the chestnut; but where that chestnut will be – in your canape, in your second course, third course – you never know,” Gillon said.
Scottish blue lobster plays second fiddle to Gillon’s pet, Jerusalem artichoke, served raw, braised, pickled, tuile and sand.
“I love handwritten menus because because I feel a little bit of personality has been lost with the injection of technology over a number of years,” said Tyagi, who proclaims himself an old-school kind of guy. “Everything is at the press of a button, and I feel that is not who we are.” If a product doesn’t arrive in time, for example, or a diner has a particular dietary restriction or preference, the kitchen adapts readily.
In addition, there are any number of restaurants a diner could choose to eat at, “but you came here… I feel a handwritten thank you note from Jeremy and I is the least we can do.”
Restaurant JAG is at 41 Robertson Quay #02-02.