May 23, 2015

The big ass from Paris

Pin It

I was pretty ecstatic about a year ago when I heard about Dalloyau opening in Hong Kong.  Dalloyau has been my tea salon of choice in Paris for 20 years, and when I first moved to Hong Kong 20 years ago, I would satisfy my cravings by buying their chocolates from their outlet in Ginza for 200 yen a bite, when USD/JPY was trading at 80.  Ever since my first visit, I've tried to stop at a Dalloyau salon on each subsequent trip to Paris.

What got me scratching my head, though, was news that there was an adjoining fine dining restaurant.  Dalloyau has always been a tea salon.  Yes, they serve savory food, but nothing like a multi-course affair.  I guess their local partner had his heart set on running a fine dining restaurant... Anyway, the location was never convenient for me, so it never came up as an obvious choice when I looked for places to eat.   Well, after waiting almost a year, I finally decided to visit Épure tonight.

I had reasonably high expectations for this place, given the pedigrees of the chefs.  Unlike some other guys who made claims about their past history, I know these two guys put in some real time at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental and Amber, as I remember Chef Richard Ekkebus had mentioned on social media that he was coming here to visit his old colleagues.  So yeah, let's see if they deliver...

I had looked at the menu online and found it... interesting.  While there was a seasonal menu for Le French May - which didn't look very interesting - the two regular tasting menus were curiously entitled "For her" and "For him".  When our waiter took our order, he seemed to think that there was a possibility that I might choose "For her"... Well, when you have this kind of naming convention, did you really think I'll happily announce that I'm going with the "For her" menu?!

Anyway, we were soon presented with a small selection of snacks, some of which look vaguely familiar...

Celeriac tart - pretty nice.

Cheese croquette - nice and molten center.

Foie gras bon bon - with a cherry coating.  Very smooth both on the outside and on the inside.

The amuse bouche was fava bean espouma, with cheese sauce and a sprinkle of hazelnuts.

Huitres de Bourcefranc - this arrived and the waiter poured some water over the dry ice below for a rather theatrical presentation...

Speciale Ancelin N°4 from Bourcefranc-le-Chapus in the Marenne Oléron, wrapped in a thin layer of agar flavored with cucumber or French melon, and served on small, round discs of cucumber or French melon, respectively.  Topped with a quenelle of French melon sorbet, and some crunchy peanuts.

This was such a beautiful dish.  Both the cucumber and the melon delivered refreshing and clean sensations in the mouth, and the sweetness from the melon sorbet somewhat neutralized the mineral flavors of the seas from the oysters.  This reminded me of another oyster dish at Restaurant André, which blew me away.

Le foie gras de canard - this is a dish that I no longer order at restaurants, because it has become so mainstream and common.  This came with some poached rhubarb for the acidity, a piece of rice crispy on top, and a puddle of delicious tonka bean butter foam on the side.

Needless to say, the execution was flawless.  I may not have ordered it, but I'll always enjoy it when it's done well.

There was also a little cup of rhubarb sauce topped with rhubarb granité to cleanse the palate afterwards.

L'asperge de Jérome Galis - incredible.  Proof that a simple dish with the freshest ingredients can be just as amazing.  These asparagus spears were simply amazing.  Simply drizzled with some olive oil, garnished with a single garlic flower, and served with a light and airy hollandaise sauce (menu indicates mousseline).

Le Saint Pierre - slow-cooked John Dory, covered with a thin sheet of zucchini purée (menu says lardo), served with salicornia, a salicornia fish sauce, and avocado purée on the side.

I find John Dory boring in general, but salicornia is always interesting - especially that sauce!  The avocado purée was surprisingly a little acidic.

Le pigeon - OF COURSE I would choose the pigeon over some Kagoshima wagyu... No-brainer here.

Cooked "medium-rare" as is standard here, this was just beautiful.  Very, very succulent.  Served with some delicious pigeon sausage full of gamey flavors, along with some spring onions and spring onion mash.  I didn't really taste the Vin Jaune from the sauce...

Quelques fromages de saison - I guess they don't exactly have a cheese cart to wheel in front of us, so they just automatically picked a few for me...

Ossau - not too hard, actually, and a little salty.

Couronne Lochoise - pretty mild for a goat cheese, simply creamy with just a little salt and a slight acidic finish.

Saint-Felix - with ash in between the layers.  Harder in texture, with more salt and acidity here.

Munster - definitely pretty strong, and a little stinky.  Bitter on the palate.

Roquefort - as expected this was simply too salty for me on its own, so I had to take it with the fig jam.

Le citron de Menton - a very refreshing lemon mousse, with delicious and crunchy pineapple confit, rice crispies, and faisselle sorbet.

La forêt noire - a new take on the Black Forest cake, served with a sauce made with cherries and cherry liqueur.

Inside the white chocolate shell was the classic chocolate cake with cherries.

A quenelle of cherry sorbet on the side makes it complete.

At the end of the meal, tea and coffee are served.  To ensure that diners give the tea enough time in the pot, they've provided a little hourglass which runs out in 3 minutes.  Very thoughtful.

The mignardises arrived to bring our meal to a close.

Lemon raspberry

Pistachio and jasmine cake with white chocolate - happy to have actually tasted the jasmine.

Truffle and chocolate macaron - I definitely tasted truffle oil in here.

Against my better judgement, I decided to order a bottle of Champagne.  I inquired about the corkage charge when I called to make a reservation, and was informed that it would be HKD 700.  W-T-F?!  Paying HKD 500 in the city's 5-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants is something I am more than happy to do, but this just felt like highway robbery.  I was very tempted to give the restaurant the finger by not letting them earn a dime on wine.

But I did take a look at the wine list, and ended up picking a bottle of grower Champagne that I liked, at a fairy "reasonable" price.  So I gave in and did something I almost never do - order a bottle off a restaurant's wine list.

Françoise Bedel Dis, "Vin Secret" - ripe and caramelized nose, plummy notes.  A little more fragrant later, and almost cane sugar, a little mineral and savory.  Higher acidity on the palate, but ripe and smooth.  Delicious.

I gotta say that dinner tonight was immensely enjoyable.  I came in with reasonably high expectations, and by the large the restaurant delivered.  It is certainly one of the better fine dining venues in town, and I felt the quality delivered by the kitchen was commensurate with the price charged.  Looking forward to coming back.

P.S. One small gripe to make... We wanted to pick up a couple of items from Dalloyau, and I felt that since they all belonged to the same group, they could make things easier for customers by letting us put the Dalloyau desserts/chocolates on the restaurant tab and just settle one bill.  No such luck...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map