August 22, 2014

Sometimes, less is more

Pin It

A couple of good friends were interested in checking out the seasonal summer tasting menu at Pierre, and invited me to join them for lunch today.  As it's been quite a while since my last visit, I figured it was time to go back and check it out.

Things didn't exactly get off to a good start when I arrived.  I asked the receptionist for my friends' reservation, pronouncing both their last names as well as spelling them out.  Nope. No such reservation.  I was asked if I was in the right restaurant - as if I were the blubbering idiot - but of course I was.  I tried to check for the reservation again, and this time a lightbulb went off in someone's head.  "Oh, zed-h-..."  Ah yes, as a speaker of American English, I always pronounce the letter "zee", but I guess that was news to the receptionist...

My friends arrived and we fell into conversation while looking at the menu.  I had already checked out the menus online before coming, and since I'm feeling a little poor lately, paying more than HKD 1,000 for the 4-course tasting menu lunch seemed a little too rich for my blood.  The "express lunch" - which is a silly misnomer because you can never get out of this place in a hurry - seemed a lot more palatable at about HKD 600 for 3 courses.  So that's what I decided to have... if only someone would come and take our order.  Despite having been the first to arrive, the staff seemed to think we were in no hurry to eat, and only came to take our order after both neighboring tables were taken care of - some 15 to 20 minutes after we were presented with our menus.

An array of amuses bouches were brought to our table, but our server left without any explanation of them.  When I asked the server to describe them, the explanation came but sounded a little vague.  Another member of the waitstaff seemed to explain it much better to the next table, so we pulled him over and asked him to describe these one more time...

Parmesan crumble (domes) and turmeric flavored crispy sandwich with Brillat-Savarin filling (flat ones) - the crumble was fine but the Brillat-Savarin was awesome.  Our other server had described the crisps as being flavored with egg yolk sauce (蛋黃醬)...

Sesame crackers - nice with plenty of cumin flavor.

And tasted great with the dip.

Lentil mash with lentils, paprika and cumin - very, very delish.

"Caillette ardéchoise", snail, "red sauce" - I love just about any sausage, and this minced pork and green vegetables sausage sounded perfect to me... and it was!  There were a few snails on the side, and the "red sauce" was made with red cabbage, red currants and Port wine.

There were chunks of fat next to slightly chewy and crunchy bits of pork, mixed in with what seemed to be spinach and maybe parsley.  Wonderful in terms of both flavor and texture.

Pan-sautéed Obsiblue prawns with green curry, crunchy turnips with white Port, emulsified shell juice - it wasn't surprising that I found the Obsiblue prawns slightly overcooked, but no biggie.  Loaded with onions, trompettes de la mort, turnip cubes and shredded French beans.  I know it says green curry, but the shellfish sauce kinda turned everything a reddish orange.  In any case, it was delicious.  Pierre Gagnaire has always been one of the few chefs who I admired for being able to blend the flavors of East and West, and this was a perfect example.  Loved that kick from the curry.

Poached peach in Muscat wine, almond flavored yoghurt and peach sherbet - this looks like a dish from Disneyland... with all those multi-colored meringue sticks.  There's a peach poached in Muscat de Baumes-de-Venise at the bottom, surrounded by Muscat jelly and peach foam and topped with peach ice cream.  The peach was really delicious, although I found the jelly a little bitter.  Overall, though, this was very summery and delish.

While we found the level of service somewhat wanting, I really liked all three of the courses I had.  My friends, however, had a different experience.  While their giant langoustine seemed to be incredibly delicious, the veal was apparently disappointing.  Basically they thought they were having stir-fried slices of beef, and a Chinese restaurant would have done a better job at it.

Even before we had placed our orders, Winnie the Chew - who is well-known among our friends for being cheap value-conscious - had questioned out loud about what she was getting from the tasting menu given the premium she was paying.  After we had finished our respective meals, it would appear that I was the happier camper while paying significantly less for lunch.  I guess that's the problem of going for an expensive meal - one's expectations are raised proportionate to the price of the meal, and it becomes easier to get disappointed about not getting one's money's worth.

Well, I had a good lunch, and now I needed the next few hours to digest and make room for a big dinner...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it reminds me of the stuff the chef Jean-Denis was pulling at Sketch in London. Very creative, colourful and fun.
I miss him dearly as I used to go several times a year.
As for the length, I remember arriving at noon for my wedding anniversary (done at Sketch) and leaving the restaurant at 5pm...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map