Maison Decoret★ // Vichy // France

Chef Jacques Decoret is well-known for his genius of combining Japanese recipes with molecular skills. His training came from a French maestro, Alain Passard at L’Arpèges in Paris where he worked alongside his “brother” Pascal Barbot, who now runs the ***3 star L’Astrance.

Before launching his own business in his native Vichy in central France, Decoret worked for three years with Regis Marcon in southern Auvergne, where he learnt his trademark cooking techniques.  Now, Jacques and his wife own their own charming, typical Napoleonic style house, close to the river where they run their stunning restaurant.

Food wise, if you’re looking for something special then go for the ‘menu confiance’ – the tasting menu – but the ‘découverte’ and ‘harmonie’ lighter menus offer a selection of other worthwhile dishes, so you can’t really go wrong.

Tasting menu: Decoret uses a huge range of high quality seafood, like razor clams, scallops and amazing pigmy squid, cooked perfectly with ink and a bit of spice… delicious! Next is the innovative cocktail of a pan-fried foie gras with an apple verbena tea; a very chic combination.  Veal too gets an unusual treatment with beetroot and orange blossom purée, which works fantastically well. As a house speciality, the desserts are perfect as well, though there’s no pastry chef here; Jacques does everything himself. A real surprise is the courgette pre-dessert, which is sweet, fresh and delicate…

Eating at Maison Decoret is a unique experience. You’ll find innovative combinations and a lot of technical skills, which can frighten a lot of people and that’s why unfortunately the dining room isn’t always full. Though, if Decoret was in London or Paris, he would have no shortage of fans (and clients).

Without a doubt, if you’re in Vichy you must go. Especially if you love eating in restaurants that serve you food you could never cook at home. I think it’s important to support chefs that create and invent new dishes every day. If Jacques keeps this level of creativity up, he may well be in line for his **2 star very soon.