The best salade Nicoise in Hong Hong – La Petite Maison in Central reviewed
- French restaurant at H Queen’s serves good food and an amazing salade Nicoise
- Confit duck was stringy, though, and dessert a little disappointing
I was both sceptical of and intrigued by La Petite Maison, which opened recently in Hong Kong.
Intrigued because a friend – who is given to superlatives – described the restaurant’s salade Nicoise as “revelatory”. Sceptical because our first impressions of it were not great.
The restaurant is in the food- and art-focused H Queen’s tower in Queen’s Road Central (although its entrance is on Stanley Street). The original opened in Nice, southern France, three decades ago, and there are branches in London, Dubai, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi.
When we called about a week in advance, we could only get a table for 6pm, and we were told we’d have to finish by 8pm – something the hostess mentioned again when I arrived, on the dot. But the hostess couldn’t find the booking of the diner who was there just minutes before me (his guest was already sitting down), which made us slightly late for our own table.
To be fair, they didn’t chase us away as soon as the clock hit 8pm – we finished closer to 8.15pm – but when you’re paying about HK$800 (US$100) per person for an enjoyable three-course meal without drinks, you don’t want to feel rushed.
That salade Nicoise (HK$288)? Revelatory isn’t far off the mark – this was by far the best version of the classic dish I’ve tried.
The tuna, in substantial chunks, was soft and moist, and a far cry from the cheap canned fish you so often get, and even better than the seared fresh tuna some places use.
But the tuna was only part of what made the salad so good – the romaine lettuce leaves were small and crisp, there were strips of sweet red pepper, small, sharp bites of anchovies and olives, green beans and a light, creamy, well-balanced dressing. The only flaw was that the tomato was not sweet.
Salt cod croquettes with pepper relish (HK$138) were hot and crisp, with no discernible filler.
Lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine (HK$448) had meat that was cooked slightly past our requested medium-rare, but it was mild, sweet and tender.
The confit duck leg with orange glaze (HK$338) had a nice, sweet tangy glaze, but the meat was a little stringy and dry. A side dish of gratin dauphinois (thin slices of potato cooked with thick cream, HK$98) was a delicious accompaniment to both dishes.
Dessert of thin crust apple tart with vanilla ice cream was disappointing because the pastry was tough.
La Petite Maison, 1/F H Queen’s, 23-29 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2887 1113. About HK$750 without drinks or the service charge.