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Hong Kong restaurant reviews

Boucher Francais in Wan Chai review: dry-aged beef is a winner in this butcher’s/restaurant

This small space combines a butcher’s with a restaurant and is part of the same group as the nearby Le Quinze Vins wine shop and La Cremerie cheese shop. The beef is nicely aged and the pâtés and lamb chops are excellent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 6:37pm

“This is a boucherie [butcher’s] where you can eat,” one of the waiters at Le Boucher Français told us with a smile. Which, in a sentence, lets you know what you should expect when you eat here: meat shop first, restaurant second.

This small space, which seats only about 20 at high tables with backless stools, is connected through a doorway to Le Quinze Vins. You can order bottles from the wine bar to be served at the restaurant, while La Cremerie, which is across the street, will deliver its cheeses nicely presented (although you have to visit the shop, order what you want and pay there). All three outlets are part of Le Quinze Vins Group.

The pros: a nice, friendly atmosphere (although French customers get a much warmer welcome), good charcuterie, top quality meats.

The cons: no plates (really!), tiny cutlery (the two tines of the fork were so wide apart that the apple sauce kept falling through) and no salt on the meat (really!).

I usually don’t comment on the food while I’m dining at a restaurant for a review, but the salt thing puzzled me so much that when asked how we liked the meal, I blurted out, “Why don’t you salt the meat?”

The waiter explained that they actually wanted to salt the meat but because they had received so many complaints that the food was too salty, they decided to stop using the seasoning. This is a shame, because good meat is even better if it’s been salted before being cooked.

We ended up salting the meat ourselves.

If all of this sounds negative, let me state now that we enjoyed the meal there, once we finally understood the concept (which is why I told you what it is in the first paragraph). Next time we eat here, we’ll tell them in advance to use salt (and we’re also considering bringing our own plates).

The menu is basic, and almost everything they serve is in the two display cases by the open kitchen: one filled with charcuterie (which they import), the other with the meats (priced by the 100 grams) that are available that day.

To start, we ordered boudin noir (HK$120) and a platter of three patés (HK$160). The boudin noir (blood sausage) was wonderfully rich and fatty, and served with a very vanilla-y applesauce. The pâté platter consisted of smooth goose rillette, head cheese, which we liked because of all its varied textures, and a nicely-seasoned pork terrine with chestnuts.

For the meats, we were most excited about the bone-in pork chop (HK$48 per 100 grams), but it was disappointing. It was served “slightly pink” as we requested, but the meat was hard, dry and somewhat chewy.

The 60-day aged contre-filet (HK$110 for 100 grams) was a succulent cut of beef. Cooked to our requested medium-rare, it had a deep, funky taste that you expect from dry ageing, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

Our favourite of the meats was the lamb ribs (HK$59 for 100 grams) which were very small and milky tasting, with a flavour that reminded us of Roquefort cheese.

For our side dishes, the gratin dauphinois (HK$70) should have been served hotter. Ratatouille was soggy and bland.

Le Boucher Francais, 5-7 Swatow St, Wan Chai, tel: 2172 7686

About HK$350 without drinks. There’s no service charge.

While you’re in the area

New restaurants in Wan Chai: Sueño – a Spanish menu so enticing we wanted to order more

New restaurant in Wan Chai: Francis serves Middle Eastern food with charm and enthusiasm

Five great new Wan Chai restaurants to try, from Chinese hotpot to Italian seafood