A New Bistro opening
Sheung Wan is the up and coming dining destination, and the food scene has grown faster than Tai Hang and Kennedy Town. At every street corner there seems to be eateries blooming. Staking claim of this new neighborhood is a new bistro serving contemporary French, brought to us by a veteran chef who previously manned the kitchen at St. George of Hullett House. Taking a leap into a different cuisine style, we went for a first dip into what this new bistro has to offer.
Located at Upper Station Street, with a large space and a generous view of the kitchen on one side and dining room at the other. The restaurant is divided into two sections, the bar and the main bistro dining area. A ‘bar’ menu features an array of European small plates that are crafted by the chef and his team. The style is decidedly posh, with ‘Oysters with Ponzu gelee’ and ‘Veal Burgers with Mushroom Sauce’ being signatures. The former is freshly shucked with the lightest tickle of yuzu in the ponzu gelee. The ‘Veal Burgers’ come in miniature buns, each filled with a tender veal patty, 24-month aged comte cheese and pickles. The richness from the comte melts into the tender veal, yet offset by the tart pickles. The mushroom sauce is light, and despite accompanied with spoons, we found it better smothered onto the burgers and take a generous bite of everything at once to maximize the clash of flavours.
The ‘foie gras creme brulee with poppy seeds’ is served alongside thin toasts. The foie gras is incorporated into the custard before baked in water bath. A light sprinkle of sugar and poppy seeds and the top is then torched to caramelize the top into a fine crackling. The custard, spread across thin toasts, is rich and creamy.
After whetting the appetite with small bites from the menu, we moved on to the main dining area where Bistro-inspired dishes are showcased. The modest selections of salads and soups cover all preferences. The ‘Frog Legs and Foie Gras’ is accompanied by a cep mushroom bouillon, whose richness compliments that of cubes of foie gras and frog legs.
“Pig Trotters on Toast” were previously served alongside oysters and a green salad. The amended dish now involves chopped pig trotters gratineed with a crunchy topping. Gelatinous to the bite, we found the spread a little dry for our taste.
Chef’s Steak Tartare is served in a tower, stacked with chunks of avocado and topped with a Parmesan cheese foam. The diced beef fillet has a good texture which is enhanced by adding chopped pecans into the mix. It is a fresher approach to the traditional starter, and lighter on seasoning as well.
There are a little bit of everything when it comes to the mains. The “Sole a la Meuniere” is a French classic. A fillet of sole is pan-fried with a light squeeze of lemon and parsley, and dressed with a butternut squash sauce. We particularly love this land-and-sea combo that the chef based many of his dishes on. The earthy sauteed mushrooms pair well with the crisp, lemon-laced sole.
Another example of the land-sea marriage. The chef introduced Boulghour (aka bulgur wheat), a Turkish grain cooked risotto-style but still retains a pleasurable chewiness. The slow–roast Spanish baby pork is tender, served alongside ringlets of calamari and shrimps in a ‘paella bouillon’ flavoured with saffron, lobster, and chorizo. The lightly spiced bouillon and an exotic grain bring a colorful touch to this wonderful pork dish.
Desserts offer a modern touch at this bistro. The “Pistachio Barre” offers all things green. A fluffy pistachio mousse pairs well with the tart green apple sorbet while nori and popcorn offers a crunchy surprise.
The most underrated desserts among the bunch. The heady citrus in the form of gelee is surprisingly good with ice cream flavored with white truffle.
Miniature chocolate cakes are served warm and right, with an open texture but a light wobble in the middle but nothing close to a fondant au chocolat. The coffee ice cream brings a good dose of coffee to the table without an overpowering sweetness.
This simple dessert brings chocolate ganache with an ice cream flavored with calisson, a French confectionery combining almonds and candied fruits. The smooth ice cream is good on its own but we craved for more textures to this dessert. For those who are not a fan of desserts, they also offer a modest cheese platter with cheese offerings from Les Frères Marchand.
This newcomer demonstrates good effort into bringing a lighter and fresher approach to bistro dining, as we see a different side of the chef in his first standalone restaurant. Looking up and admiring the egg-like petals spreading across the ceiling as part of the decor, we hope he will consider bringing back his signature ’63 degree egg’ as it has been unceremoniously taken off the menu on our second visit.