Gourmet French sandwiches tasty but tricky to eat at newly opened Tartine

Chef Philippe Orrico's casual dining venture by the Mid-Levels Escalator has a laid-back atmosphere, but the kitchen needs to lay off the salt in some dishes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 5:48pm

This should have been a first look at The Fat Pig: we made an online booking for Tom Aikens’ latest venture in Hong Kong, but when we arrived a day before the official opening, we were denied our table. The restaurant in Times Square looked set up ready to serve customers but the manager didn’t give us any sympathy for the technical glitch in the reservation system and refused to serve us any food, despite having a full crew of staff in the open kitchen.

So we rushed over to a restaurant that has already been open a few weeks, Tartine, right by the Mid-Levels escalator on Lyndhurst Terrace, Central. It’s Philippe Orrico's new casual shop serving gourmet tartines (open-faced sandwiches) and other quick bites.

We like the laid-back atmosphere, but the rock music playing in the speakers just above where we sat was a tad too loud and not quite appropriate for a place that would otherwise be relaxing.

We ordered several items, which arrived at our table quickly.

The green pea gazpacho (HK$58) was refreshing, with a beautiful spring green colour. The dominant flavour of green peas and it had background notes of cucumber accented with pepper and mint.

For the tartines, we were pleasantly surprised they came sliced into pieces, but they were difficult to eat without the filling falling off. The tomato and burrata (HK$88) sounded promising, garnished with basil olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, but the Italian soft cheese lacked flavour and creaminess to stand up to the acidity of the cherry tomatoes.

However, we enjoyed the tartine of figs, goat cheese and Parma ham, which combined the sweet and savoury and was a delicious mix of flavours.

Both tartines came with a very small pot of green salad that was seasoned with too much salt.

Grass-fed Angus beef tartare (HK$158) came with four thin slices of toasted baguette - and either the beef portion should be smaller or they should add more toasted bread. The tartare was unevenly seasoned, so some spoonfuls had lots of flavour from the capers, mustard and pepper (no onion or egg yolk), and others were just beef.

Quinoa salad (HK$88) was a healthy combination that incorporated ripe diced avocado, edamame, feta cheese and green bell pepper, but again the kitchen was very liberal with the salt.

Strangely, though, hardly any salt was detected in the banana and salted caramel (HK$68) dessert. A slice of plain French toast was dressed with pine nuts, banana slices, orange zest and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tartine, 2/F-3/F, 38 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2808 0752