April 2, 2022

No zebra for me, again

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I enjoyed my first meal at Estro, which was back during the restaurant's soft-opening period. The place got popular real quick, and the public scrambled to secure one of the coveted tables. I quickly realized that a return visit would require advanced planning, and I was a little lazy... Then we got hit with the dinner ban.

So Mr. Zebra became the latest chef to complain that I don't love him and never goes to see him. Well... I had made a booking for dinner for March, but of course it was cancelled thanks to the Hong Kong government. I dutifully rescheduled it as a lunch, so here we are.

Zucchini salad, basil, lemon zest - the zucchini noodles were very refreshing, and the lovely olive oil made for very clean flavors.

Potato tuile, ricotta, bottarga - the ricotta filling also showed lemon citrus notes to balance out the bottarga.

Semolina pillow, broccolini, smoked sardine - the sardine was definitely smoky, and worked well with the broccolini purée.

Chilled green pea minestrone - it was easy to smell the intense fragrance of the peas, but also the umami of tomatoes. Also very refreshing with the savory/umami flavors.

Besides the carta musica, I also enjoyed the taralli from the bread selection.

Wild amberjack | fennel panna cotta, mandarin, caviar - so the caviar dish changed... We've still got a layer of pretty caviar on top, and I liked the coloration of this particular batch.

Underneath the top layer we've now got wild amberjack tartare, and the little chunks of mandarin embedded inside the made it lighter with their acidity. The mandarin gel on top were the perfect highlights for this dish.

Blue spotted bream | puntarelle, yellow tomato - the spotted bream from Spain was well-executed to deliver crispy skin while remaining silky, tender, and moist. The quenneles of potatoes were made less boring by the parsley, while the puntarelle proved nowhere as bitter as I feared. The yellow tomato sauce was prety nice with their light and fruity acidity.

Green buttons | turnips tops, anchovy, "aglio e olio" - the green flavors from the green turnip tops were front and center, showing a little spicy kick sometimes found in the raw vegetable. This meant the flavors from anchovies weren't so prominent. Fairly thought-provoking combination.

Spaghetti | artichoke, anchovy - we've got roasted artichoke, crispy artichoke chips, artichoke dust, and artichoke sauce with our pasta. There's also some colatura di alici riserva from Armatore. Loved that light touch on the anchovy flavors... especially since this was the second dish in a row featuring that ingredient.

Beef tenderloin | cardoncelli, mushroom sabayon - this was... by far my least favorite dish of the meal. First of all, all it took was one bite of the eringi mushroom and I was in rosemary hell... They sprinkled powdered rosemary on everything! Then there was the beef... which reminded me of this experience. While the beef was soft and tender almost to the point of being mushy, it seemed devoid of flavor and just really boring.

Yes, I understand the commercial decision of having this on the menu, and I'm sure 90% of the people (or probably more) wouldn't have a problem with it. But it just didn't do it for me.

Cioccolato - so we have chocolate mousse, tuile, sorbet, and torta caprese.

Neapolitan babà - soaked in orange liqueur and served with chantilly and slices of cedro rind. Loved the citrus fragrance.

Fior di latte gelato - with sour cherries and hazelnuts.

Chocolate truffle - with hazelnut so the flavors were very savory. The texture as sooo thick and rich it was like chewing on Play-Doh...

I wanted to take things easy today... so only brought one bottle of wine.

2007 Biserno - served 30 minutes after decanting. Good sweetness on the nose, with vanilla, smoke, and cedar. Very fragrant 15 minutes later, with lots of mint and more smoke. About 1 hour after first pour the nose turned mostly to smoke and woodsy notes. Still pretty tannic.

Very happy to have returned for a second taste, but still disappointed that I didn't get any zebra on my plate. Not even a speck of gold, either... Maybe next time.

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