Restaurant review: 12,000 Francs in SoHo – attentive service and delicious modern European food
Friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff serve up well-made, nicely presented food and what could be the best bread in a Hong Kong restaurant
Small gestures can make a big impression. Even before I arrived at 12,000 Francs, I had a good feeling about the service: when someone from the restaurant called to confirm that I was coming for my 7.30pm booking, she told me that happy hour would end at 7pm, and suggested that we come early to take advantage of it. Not many restaurants would bother to do that.
And I was right: the servers – especially our waitress – were friendly, knowledgeable about the food, and seemed enthusiastic and proud to be serving it. When I complimented our waitress about the malted sourdough bread (HK$40) served with cultured butter, she said that the chef arrives early to make it every day. It was some of the best bread I’ve eaten in a restaurant.
12,000 Francs – named after the reward Napoleon Bonaparte offered to whoever came up with a technique for food preservation so he could feed his armies – offers a tasting menu (HK$500 per person) but we ordered à la carte. The waitress told us that tuna would be substituted for the bonito in the tartare (HK$190) with eggplant, aioli and almonds. It was an excellent starter – creamy but not heavy, with great textures and flavour. Merguez and onion (HK$170) is listed under the “smaller dishes” but it was a substantial portion: three pieces of peppery, meaty sausage served with a dollop of yoghurt, with tart and sweet-sour flavours provided by sumac and pomegranate seeds. The sausage should have been served hotter, though.
We also loved the spiced and brined short-rib pastrami (HK$320 for a small portion, HK$460 for large). The Angus beef, slow-cooked for 36 hours, was soft, fatty and succulent, and the accompanying spicy kraut salsa did a good job of balancing the richness of the meat.
The only dish that disappointed was the kouign amann, a delicious, buttery pastry that is a speciality of Brittany, a region in France known for its butter. This version tasted like a yeasted cinnamon bun (minus the cinnamon) that had been rolled around pecans and maple, and served with pumpkin puree and vanilla ice cream. The pastry needed more butter, sugar and glaze.
12,000 Francs, 43 Elgin Street, SoHo, tel: 2529 3100. About HK$400 without drinks or the service charge
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