Friday, June 22, 2018

Re-visiting Grissini

It’s a pure coincidence that we were eating at Grand Hyatt pretty often recently – after decent dinners at the Steakhouse and One Harbour Road, I thought we may as well check out Grissini as well, so here we were on a Friday night to kick off the weekend. Let me be straight first – we were never huge fans of the restaurant and our previous experience has been so-so at best. But still, we figured it didn’t hurt giving it a try every now and then, and check to see if one day our opinion might be swayed the other way.

The restaurant didn’t change much all these years, with the long corridor upon exiting the elevator with wine collection showcased on the side which led to the bread station where grissini, the Italian breadsticks, was baked fresh from the specialty oven. Then through the glass door on the right is the dining area with floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the harbor with the stunning skyline. The restaurant was packed on the day of our visit, unsurprisingly, but not to the point of being uncomfortable.

Not wanting to think too much of what to eat, we went for the tasting menu with 5 courses. Took me a longer while to sort out the wine situation, because we didn’t want the whole bottle and their half-bottle or by-glass selection was quite limited. The wine pairing option for the tasting menu didn’t offer much help either, with rather predictable table wine quality choices despite being reasonably priced (from a hotel wine list point of view). So at the end, we reluctantly went for a simple glass of white which I thought worked best for most of the menu.

It took even longer for our first 2 courses to arrive with awkward pause in between after our orders were taken – in most cases "tasting menu" required relatively little attention from the kitchen team and by the time we ordered most tables have finished their appetizers already so I wondered why it took so long to do ours. Anyway, both turned out to be okay after they finally landed on our table. The first course of Mediterranean red prawns were paired with dollops of burrata cheese, pesto and anchovies on the side. They were fresh with excellent flavor - I like the contrast of the punchy anchovies with the creamy cheese. And the second course of scallop was done well too – with the piece of scallop seared a la minute with a nice charred surface, and underneath was cauliflower puree with vanilla surrounded by the crispy crushed guanciale. Portion was a bit small in my opinion - a single scallop was a bit stingy - but otherwise a satisfying dish.

The pasta course was probably my favorite of the evening – executed at the level on par of my expectation of any high-end Italian restaurant. The Gragnano Paccheri pasta, which resembles a giant tube (similar to rigatoni but even bigger) was served with tomato, basil and sautéed seafood. I could live with seafood of better quality (and quantity) other than what felt like bits and ends, but overall it was a comforting dish done exactly the way it should be.

Wish I could say the same about our main course of beef tenderloin. I wasn’t so sure about the pairing of beef with beetroot when I first saw that on the menu but thought I should be open-minded and gave it a shot, but no, still not convinced after having a few bites, especially the beetroots appeared not once but thrice in different forms – powder, puree and a thin slice of baked beetroot right on top of the piece of beef tenderloin. It basically took over the overall dish tipping it off-balance, and that's partly due to the fact that the meat itself didn’t have much to show forth either – it’s okay tender, but rather bland, a far-cry from the excellent beef I had at their steakhouse only a few weeks ago.

Dessert course could have been the saving grace of the meal given I am a big fan of Italian sweets, but the "lemon dome cake", with vanilla sponge cake covered with lemon glaze, lemon gelato and lemon zest, was not very inspiring either. The simple sponge cake was rather dry as well and felt like it's been sitting around for longer than it should.

So no revised marks for me for this restaurant after this visit though it did fare slightly better than our last outing here. Not bad per se with some high points with the starter courses and pasta, but I expected more than just an average meal here. What a bummer given my fine experience elsewhere at the hotel recently. But if there's one good thing out of this, their grissini is still as good as ever, if only I could just come for that alone (with maybe just a pasta dish)

When? May 18 2018
Where? Grissini, Level 6, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Gragnano paccheri pasta, sautéed seafood, Sorrentino tomato, basil
Drinks? 2015 Gaja Rossj-Bass Langhe Chardonnay, Piedmont, Italy

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