agnès b. Café LPG
Chung Shan House, 8-10 Gough Street, Central,
tel: 2563 9393
The vibe: part of the chain of fashionable and fancy French cafe-patisseries linked to the fashion group, it has a fabulous tiled floor, a florist's shop rammed in one corner, friendly young staff and an amazing selection of rare artisanal beers from the heart of la France profonde. It's popular with bankers, cool artistic-type expats and young Hongkongers in search of a European experience.
The drinks: the Gough Street branch has a two-for-one deal on bottled beers - all unfiltered and organic - which come from three small breweries in the rural northwest of France, and which makes their otherwise painful cost (HK$85 a bottle for 33cl, HK$135 for the 75cl beers) positively great value. The Bière A l'Aven from the Mélusine brewery in the Vendée, flavoured with hemp flowers, is a great, green, grassy hit. The Bière du Chameau, a wheat beer from the Pigeonnelle brewery in the Loire Valley, contains just 3.5 per cent alcohol, but is refreshingly sharp with hints of grapefruit. The Dorée Bio from the Brasserie Dremmwel in northern Brittany is a dry, strong, Belgian-style ale with hints of milk chocolate, caramel and orange.
There are a couple of draught beers if the craft bottled stuff is not your scene, while the wines are almost all French, including a Côtes du Rhône at HK$98 a glass or HK$420 a bottle, a Sancerre Pouilly for HK$112 per glass or HK$480 a bottle, and a Loire sparkling brut for the same price.
The verdict: it closes at 10pm, so it's no good for an extended night, but great for a long afternoon/early evening of sampling rare beers. The food is exactly the standard and style you would expect - well made and well presented, with a croque monsieur for HK$75, lasagne and linguini at HK$80 and HK$98 respectively, mushroom omelette for HK$89, as well as salads, sandwiches, baguettes and fancy cakes, and coffee, tea and hot chocolate.