Restaurant review: La Cantoche
227 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Tel: 2426 0880
Open: Monday-Saturday noon-3pm, 7pm-late
Price: about HK$280 without drinks. There's no service charge.
Ambience: relaxed and convivial. The eclectic decor in the two-storey space consists of a foosball table, brightly coloured chairs, a mural of Reservoir Dogs, screens playing films (with no sound but French subtitles) and an array of spray-paint cans.
Pros: it's a relaxing, fun and comfortable place. Credit must be paid to the friendly owner, who was happy to talk about the food. A friend explained that La Cantoche is what younger French people call their school canteen, and the menu reflects that, with well-cooked versions of dishes that might be served in a cafeteria.
Cons: the pork in the Vietnamese salad (HK$120) was quite dry, although the shredded cabbage and carrot salad - dressed with Vietnamese fish sauce - was good.
Recommended dishes: it was obvious that my guest liked his steak haché (minced beef steak, HK$140), which was served with petits pois and carrots, and pommes noisettes - delicious, delicately crisp balls of fried puréed potatoes. After he had cleaned his plate, he started to eat some of my dish - chicken cordon bleu (HK$130). The breast, stuffed with ham and oozing cheese, had a crisp crust and moist meat. It came with roughly mashed potatoes and ratatouille that was as good as mine. The M&M nougat glace (HK$55), which the owner said was the "signature" dessert, wasn't too sweet and it had a nice, light texture. But it would have been even better if they had skipped the drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauce. We strongly suspected those sauces, like the strawberry sauce with the soggy-crusted raspberry tart (HK$55), came straight out of bottles.
What else? Main dishes come with two sides: besides ratatouille and pommes noisettes, other options include green salad, buttered macaroni and house-made fries. Susan Jung