VIVE LA FRANCE
FARE Contemporary French.
AMBIENCE Sophisticated modern elegance with a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour.
COST HK$2,090 for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Your significant other or to celebrate a special occasion with friends.
TURN-ONS The cepes bisque had a pungent flavour but was light at the same time, while the smoked sturgeon stuffed inside the asparagus was very refreshing and garnished with a lemon and caviar sauce. We also enjoyed the seared fillet of sea bass, clams and green peas in a creamy sauce that was hardly heavy, while the cannon of lamb was perfectly cooked at medium rare, juicy and lean, with a bouquet of chard, carrots and artichoke hearts. Desserts were a delight. The yellow lemon sable was a slightly salty pastry with lemon curd on top matched with sea salt caramel sauce, while coffee fans will indulge in the Arabica vacherin or sorbet with star anise meringue - a very delicate piece. Wines were recommended to match our meals by a personable sommelier.
TURN-OFFS One minor fault. After we ordered the cepes bisque, we were surprised to receive a trio of amuse-bouches that included a cepes froth; perhaps something else could have been substituted.
DRINKS A French-focused list covering a number of wine regions and international wines. BC
The French Window
3101, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall
8 Finance Street Central
MAMA WOULD APPROVE
AMBIENCE Tables for four are mainly arranged alongside the window with views of the less neon-infested buildings of Hong Kong Island, while larger parties can gather at more VIP-looking sections on either side where high-backed chairs afford some privacy.
COST HK$2,600 for two including a bottle of wine and two glasses of rose.
WHO TO BRING Mama or your favourite bella.
TURN-ONS We found it hard to resist the pasta offerings but did so in favour of lamb cutlets and salt-encrusted Mediterranean sea bass. The starter of asparagus soup was a triumph and served with a stalk tenderised to al dente perfection. No skimping either on the Parma ham, which was arranged in florets accompanied with baby melon. So pleasing were these combinations, and the complimentary piece of parmesan tart with a hint of walnut, that they almost overshadowed the mains. Our shared dessert of tiramisu appeared as a work of art in progress. That was because it was served in a dish resembling an artist's palette, so diners can render the textures to their taste.
TURN-OFFS We were disturbed a tad by a diner on the next table with an Australian accent who declared to the waiter that he was vegetarian.
DRINKS Wines are mostly Italian with Old and New World selections. MD
Mezzanine Level, Kowloon Shangri-La
64 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
FARE East-meets-West fusion cuisine.
AMBIENCE An oasis of calm in the middle of Wan Chai's most vibrant nightspots. Like its fusion food, the decor mixed Eastern and Western influences to great effect. It provided a classy alternative to the less salubrious establishments that surround it.
COST About HK$550 for two with wine.
WHO TO BRING A romantic interest or significant other for a quiet night out.
TURN-ONS A starter of salmon carpaccio started the meal off with a bang. Light and refreshing it was the perfect way to get the taste buds going. The pan-seared mandarin fish fillet in ginger soya sauce was a main course triumph. Delicate and well seasoned, it was served with a lightly spiced risotto which added to the flavour. However, the highlight was that the main courses were served on wooden Chinese shelves, which you took the food off and placed on your plate - very, very cool.
TURN-OFFS It took 25 minutes between having our starter and our main course. My friend had the lamb rack (above) which included potato Lyonnaise, but it was served without this and she had to ask for it.
DRINKS Wines were all reasonably priced, most were Chardonnays. JC
41-49 Hennessy Road
AMBIENCE Chic contemporary decor with a ceiling that has an undulating wave design which is sophisticated but also comforting.
WHO TO BRING Your significant other, or good friends to celebrate a special occasion.
COST HK$1,600 for two including two glasses of wine.
TURN-ONS Practically everything on the menu looks scrumptious and the execution was excellent. We enjoyed the delicate tomato jelly that came with grilled prawns and scallops, while the poultry torchon was a moist chicken sausage, with chicken liver, asparagus, wine reduction and balsamic. The roast pepper soup with seared salmon tasted sweet and balanced with the freshness of the salmon. The other standout was the cod with fava beans, bacon and mashed potatoes with thyme that was heavenly. For dessert, the strawberry salad with iced Campari and lime sorbet was refreshing, while the fig and almond tart came out of the oven fresh with a light yogurt gelato. Service was personable and attentive.
TURN-OFFS The steamed turbot was slightly overcooked - but it came with fresh asparagus and an intriguing iced limoncello and coffee powder for an extra kick.
DRINKS Wines from around the world with an Italian emphasis. BC
Level 4, Pacific Place
FRESH AND FLAVOURFUL
AMBIENCE Elegant, sophisticated setting, tastefully decorated with a view of Victoria Harbour.
COST HK$1,820 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING The love of your life, close friends, or clients to impress.
TURN-ONS We appreciated the wait staff splitting all our orders in half, making it a pleasurable dining experience. The spiced butternut pumpkin soup was comforting and a fine bite at the end from the curry oil. The freshness of the baby peas in the clay-pot rice was healthy and came with freshwater shrimps, abalone and chicken (above). The broth was light and flavourful. The free-range roasted chicken was unadorned, juicy and tasty, and the skin was tender. We saved enough room for the signature crunch cake which we had no trouble polishing off, enjoying the contrast between the light chiffon vanilla sponge cake with the caramel toffee crunch and fresh cream. We also indulged in the chocolate fudge cake that was moist with strips of orange marmalade.
TURN-OFFS There was too much dressing on the warm Boston lobster salad, though the lobster was fresh and meaty. We didn't appreciate a table of diners nearby who were obnoxious drunks in what was an otherwise pleasant dining atmosphere.
DRINKS Wines from around the world and creative cocktails. BC
25/F, Prince's Building
10 Chater Road, Central
AMBIENCE It is one of many restaurants on top of the Elements Mall roof. The atmosphere has a businesslike feel to it.
COST About HK$1,700 for a couple with drinks.
WHO TO BRING On a Friday night, the place was full of bankers and professionals working in the nearby ICC.
TURN-ONS Mouthwatering northern Italian food is a major plus. At the suggestion of executive chef Alessandro Angelini, we started with the red prawns tartare with avocado, melon, buffalo mozzarella and green apple sherbet. The second starter Angelini suggested was organic rabbit saddle stuffed with sausage and dill with green beans and celery in balsamic and shallot dressing. Both were amazing. We then tried the homemade, prawn-filled pasta with Boston lobster, black truffle and asparagus. For the main course we had fillet of sole in cream of peas with black olives, pumpkin and asparagus and lamb's loin with artichokes, potato and yellow corn polenta with mint foam. The sole was perfectly cooked, while the lamb was tender.
TURN-OFFS The location, as on a weekday the clientele could be shoppers and tourists.
DRINKS More than 40 whites and 70 reds, mostly from Italy and a wide selection of liqueurs and Grappa. MM
R010, Level 3, Elements Mall
Austin Road West, Kowloon
AMBIENCE The restaurant has a cosy atmosphere and is especially designed to accommodate big families. It has a rustic setting of terracotta floor tiles, Italian stucco walls and wooden archways.
COST About HK$3,000 for a couple with drinks.
WHO TO BRING The place was full of families when we visited for dinner on a Saturday evening. There were also some Italian expats, hotel guests and couples.
TURN-ONS Special mention should be made of the buffalo mozzarella with tomato, salad and eggplant. The mozzarella was creamy and fresh and melted in the mouth. Another interesting dish was the milk-fed veal tenderloin with thinly sliced confit king mushroom and black truffle emulsion. We also enjoyed the ricotta dumplings with green asparagus, tossed with black truffle butter and chives. The dumplings were perfectly cooked and with the right amount of cheese. Another house special is the roasted John Dory fillet with glass potato, roasted fennel and clams emulsion.
TURN-OFFS The service was a bit slow, though the assistant manager was busier than the waiting staff.
DRINKS Good selection of Italian wines, sparkling wines and beer. MM
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
70 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East