New restaurant hopes to blend in and stay put for the long term

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 February, 2009, 12:00am

The three-storey space previously inhabited by defunct restaurant Ingredients on Wing Fung Street in Wan Chai has returned to life as Cepage.

Apart from the noisy traditional lion dance early on, the launch party on Wednesday night was a classy, sophisticated affair that was attended by actual business associates rather than freeloading hangers-on.

No doubt it's a brave move by Singapore's Les Amis Group to throw as much money as they have into such a large expansion outside their home turf in the lion city, but director of group operations Randy See (right, in photo with group chairman Desmond Lim) is philosophical about slowly recovering the HK$15 million investment.

'If a restaurant is not full when it's just opened then you must be doing something wrong,' See, who was named Sommelier of the Year at the annual World Gourmet Summit for three straight years, said. 'We've been full here and I expect it will continue that way for a while, but the challenge is to maintain that consistency when it's a year or two later. One of the reasons we opened here is because a lot of Hong Kong people know our brand in Singapore very well already.'

However, they couldn't use their Les Amis name here because another wine bar already owns the rights to it - and threatened to sue to keep it - so the moniker was changed to Cepage.

'It's a wine term, as in 'the cepage of this wine is 20 per cent this grape and 30 per cent that'. It means a blend, so it's kind of appropriate because we're not just a French restaurant.'