Saturday, October 15, 2016

Speedy Fine-Dining Lunch

As I was quickly winding down my current gig, I let myself a bit loose and went off for lunch at Seasons a couple MTR stops away. It was only my first time coming here during the day and I immediately noticed the big difference in the clientele and atmosphere – during day-time the place certainly felt more like a power lunch spot rather than as a restaurant for an intimate night out sort of a venue.

The restaurant only recently introduced their new seasonal menu so I had a chance to sample some of the new dishes, most of them coming from their prix-fixe "Forest Tasting Menu" with mushrooms being the main theme, as the name suggested. I hated myself to be that annoying person at the table requesting an expedited service for a fine meal like this, but they managed to deliver without us having to rush through the courses too much.

We began with the Quail Terrine with Foie Gras, served beautifully in layers and with whole figs and coulis on the side, plus slices of the thin crispy toast. The texture was impeccable with the silky-smooth and rich foie gras, and overall the taste was well-balanced by the sweet figs.

It’s almost deceptive for the prawn duet to be served as a single course – to me, it’s almost like getting a “two for one” deal. Served in a martini glass was the perfumic Italian Gamberoni prawn diced, lightly cured and went with a piece of prawn cracker and sliced cauliflower florets. On a separate ceramic dish was a few pieces of Spanish Carabineros prawn, served raw with cauliflower served in espuma and charred slices – and I loved the strong citrus flavor pairing with the smokiness of the charred slices of cauliflowers. They were one course, prepared similarly but with two totally different characters, and both were outstanding.

What described on the menu simply as “Cepes Mushroom Consomme” was probably not doing the dish any justice either. Yes, it was presented as such, with the unmistakable aroma of cepes mushroom (probably better known by its other name of porcini) rising from the bowl of the clear meatless consommé. But inside there were miniature ravioli with a mild cheese filling adding to the flavor, and the burnt thyme hidden underneath the bowl to add on the smokiness and a sense of “forest” as we were enjoying the dish.

We shared the main courses so each of us got a taste of everything. My favorite was the grilled duck breast, once again beautifully presented with the duck cooked sous-vide (?) then seared for the charred crust and sliced thin. On the side was the seasonal Mirabelle plum, sautéed girolles and a touch of honey adding to the sweetness. Equally good was the dover sole fillet cooked "en paillotte", and inside was shimeji mushrooms, a light nori seaweed sauce and slices of autumn truffles. I couldn’t get much of the truffle aroma but overall the dish was tasty. On the other hand, I was less fond of the other seafood dish of crab ravioli with grilled avocado. While it's a creative attempt to use the creamy avocado in this way, I thought it didn't add to the flavor (nor texture) to the crab ravioli with the rich bisque sauce.

I couldn't quite work out whether the next dish was considered the La Salade or the Le Fromage course, with the strong munster cheese croustillant served with lettuce and horseradish vinaigrette. Either way, I thought the dish worked out fine for something of a lighter overall flavor after the sumptuous main courses.

The dessert was well-plated to the forest theme, with the chocolate cake and glazed truffle served with cherry and wine sorbet, cocoa powder coated popcorns and green tea “soil”. What seemed to be a random combination of ingredients worked perfectly well, in addition to being so nice to look at. This certainly made a strong case as one of the most impressive desserts I had this year.

It's a pity having to rush through the courses like I did this time and not able to slow down to savor each of the wonderful dishes. But kudos to Chef Olivier's team to deliver such an fabulous meal albeit the time limitation and I enjoyed every bit of it.

The meal was by invitation by the restaurant and more photos can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157674747326286

Where? Seasons by Olivier Elzer, Shop 308, Lee Garden 2, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Charcoal Grilled Duck Breast with Sautéed Girolles & Mirabelle Plum, Fir Honey & Pink Peppercorn
Web: www.seasonsbyolivier.com


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