Review: Scarlett Cafe & Wine Bar had a few service hiccups but is good value for money
Where else in Hong Kong can you enjoy French cooking for HK$200 a head?
Any irritation that we had about the service at Scarlett Cafe & Wine Bar melted away when we were presented with the bill at the end of dinner: a satisfying French meal at just over HK$200 per person seemed so reasonable I wondered if they’d forgotten to charge us for a few dishes.
Did we mind any more that the waitress told me to wait at the bar, while the table upstairs that was supposed to be for my group was being cleared, when my guests had already arrived and were waiting for me at another table entirely? Did we mind any more that the waitress, after clearing our plates, asked us if we wanted anything else before she brought the bill, when what we had eaten was only the first part of what we had ordered? Did we mind that she tried to serve us the roast coquelet, instead of the quenelle de brochet?
At these prices, we were willing to make allowances.
The place was packed when we visited on a drizzly weekday evening. The menu was tempting: it listed many of our favourite French dishes – onion soup, beef tartare, escargots; in fact, the only thing missing was frog’s legs. Apart from the beef tartare (HK$138), everything we ordered was from the Scarlett Signatures section.
The tartare was a very good version, if a bit heavy on the mustard. The meat had been hand-minced so it had plenty of texture, and the fries served on the side were excellent. The bone marrow was fantastic, and a great deal at HK$78 for three large bones. The marrow’s rich unctuousness went well with the accompanying pickled shallots and the sharp vinaigrette on the salad.
For our mains, the confit de canard (HK$88) tasted more braised than poached in duck fat, but we still enjoyed the dish. The duck leg had tender meat and soft skin, and went deliciously with the potatoes and lardons. Quenelle de brochet gratinée (HK$108) was a huge, soft and pillowy pike dumpling served with chardonnay sauce (we wished there were more of that) and mushrooms.
The wine list is impressive for a small restaurant, offering some unusual bottles.
Scarlett Cafe & Wine Bar, 2 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3565 6513. About HK$210 without drinks or the service charge.