Brasserie de L'Ile
4 Arbuthnot Road, Central
Tel: 2147 2389
Open: noon-2.30pm (Saturday 11am-4pm), 6pm-10.30pm (last orders). Closed Sunday
Price: about HK$400 for a three-course meal without drinks and service charge.
Ambience: the spacious restaurant has a front that's entirely open to Arbuthnot Road, which - in theory - is a good idea, as it allows a view of the passing traffic; however, in reality, it can be noisy when a bus goes by.
Pros: the menu is full of tempting French classics, such as escargots, goat's cheese salad and duck leg confit.
Cons: we were told - twice - that the soup of the day (HK$68) was lentil and bacon but it tasted of neither of those ingredients. Instead, the watery, insipid, pale green soup tasted vaguely of leek.
Recommended dishes: mussels - in a choice of seven flavours, including with chorizo and saffron, or Thai-style - can be ordered as a starter without fries (HK$138 for 400 grams), or a main course (HK$258 for 800 grams with all-you-can-eat fries). We shared a starter of the classic moules marini?res, simmered with white wine, celery and bay leaf. The small, black-shelled mussels were sweet and tender. My main course of beef tartare (HK$228) was delicious, with coarsely chopped meat studded with salty pungent bites of the other ingredients. My only complaint was that the portion was far too large, and I felt bad about wasting close to half of it. My guest's rib-eye steak au poivre (HK$228) had thin pieces of tender steak with a sauce that could have had more pepper. Both mains were served with all-you-can-eat fries. We liked the desserts: a fresh hot crepe with rum-flavoured caramel and bananas (HK$68), and tarte tatin (HK$68) which had well-cooked puff pastry and caramelised, tender apples.
What else? The chef of Brasserie de L'ile is Bruno Gautier, who worked at the (now defunct) Green Mouse on Peel Street.