April 23, 2010

Delicious, but too rich for my blood

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Following a long lunch and a few more bottles of wine in the office, I rolled into Café Gray Deluxe for my first dinner here.  Gray Kunz's reputation precedes him, and this place marks his return to Hong Kong after along absence.

I was happy about our table arrangement, as the structure of the building created a number of private dining areas each housing a single table.  However, the downside was that we sat directly across from the elongated open kitchen, and we were bombarded with the different smells throughout dinner.  This was really distracting, and detracted from our dining experience.

I started with saffron pasta fiore, tomatoes and lemon thyme.  What came in the plate in front of me wasn't what I expected at all...I was expected something relatively light, but what I got was creamier and heavier than just tomato sauce.  It wasn't bad, but I had wanted a lighter starter.

We ordered the 2007 Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken from the wine list in order to waive the corkage charge on the other bottle.  Classic nose of minerals and a little plastic, with a hint of white flowers and oak.  Being a halbtrocken, it was reasonably dry on the palate.

I took the glazed iberico pork chop, morels, spring onions and baby greens as my main course as it was the only thing that jumped out at me from the small menu.  It tasted pretty damn good.  You can't go wrong with pork fat, and parts of the pork chop were definitely very tasty and succulent.  But I felt that it was a little overcooked, and the parts without fat came out a little tough.  It wasn't totally dry, but just could have been juicier.  The exterior was nice and crispy.  The bed of veggies at the bottom was absolutely delicious, but why did they have to use so much cream?!  Putting creamed vegetables with a fatty pork chop was just overkill.  In terms of taste the dish was a winner, but it felt like I shoved a brick into my stomach...

I brought along a bottle of 1997 Etude Heirloom Pinot Noir, which actually drank pretty well.  The nose was pretty sweet, with medium body and a slightly acidic finish.  The Etude Pinot was always gonna be a little lighter than some of the other Californian offerings, but there's nothing wrong with being elegant!

I was kinda full but loathed the thought of leaving without having tasted dessert, since I'd been told that the pastry chef was pretty talented.  I ended up taking the Oreo crusted key lime tart, whipped cream.  Visually it wasn't what I expected at all... The thin Oreo crust was at the bottom, topped by a layer of key lime cream and a thin disc of caramelized sugar on top.  Texture-wise it felt more like crème brûlée.  Thankfully the portion was small, and there wasn't too much whipped cream on top.  The lime-flavored sauce was also very nice, and the acidity of the whole thing helped balance out the rather heavy meal.

So I finally came to taste Gray Kunz's creations, but I walked away from a strange feeling. I had expected heavy use of Asian ingredients and light touches, but found the meal to be heavier than most of the high-end French meals I have had in town.  I did not taste these, but my friends complained about how heavy the vegetable sides were.  The heavy use of cream just screamed "American", and not the modern, contemporary American that I'd grown accustomed to, either.  This will probably end up being another one of those places where I won't find myself returning to...not because anything was horribly wrong, but because it just isn't my cup of tea.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the sharing. this is actually more for help and advice than a comment. i m desperate. trying to do a surprise banquet gathering for my 70+yr old parents to celebrate their 50th anniversary next week. its said the view and ambience in gray delux is super but i've never been there. and my parents and their friends are not into western meal. my husband thinks chinese banquet would be more appropriate. he is concerned that other than the food, the up-endness of the place might be too intimidating for them to enjoy themselves. i want the occassion to be special and memorable for them. would u recommend gray delux? i know its weird asking a stranger for such advice but i m simply too desperate. thanks in advance.

Peech said...

If your parents and their friends don't enjoy "Western" food, why bother taking them to a place like Cafe Gray? I don't think the ambiance would be suitable at all, unless your parents are really cool and hip. I'm assuming that there will be quite a few people at the party, which leaves you in the main dining room and in the middle of the noise. Pick somewhere with a private room large enough for the party. Go somewhere with food that your parents would enjoy. Forget the view and focus on what really makes your parents and their friends happy.

Anonymous said...

thanku for such a prompt response. u r right. gray actually offers a private room for 12 but we have about 15-20 people including a few kids aged 2-10. i was thinking of squeezing in. i guess i was a bit too obsessed with being memorable and special instead of enjoyable and comfortable. i have the impresssion of u being a food connoiseur as by your blog,would you have any recommendation around the admiralty, central or TST area? we are more into the northern chinese cuisine. my budget is around HK$300/head. the location being central and easily accessible is important as well. most of my parents friends are in their late 60s to 80s. thanku again.


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