Thursday, February 14, 2013

To be, or not to be - Caprice in 2013

We returned to Caprice for dinner on our final work day before Chinese New Year (and a 5-day super long weekend). Facing difficulties in choosing from many enticing dishes, we decided to "do it all" and went for their tasting menu, as we did the previous times.

Our first course was Langoustine "Cannelloni" rolled in marinated salmon, and served with chilled lemongrass and Sologne caviar. One thing for sure - I couldn't fault the presentation of the dish - it's stunningly beautiful with different colors on display using bits of carrots, broccoli, radish and edible flower petals, and the ingredients by themselves were no doubt top-notch, but unfortunately nothing really stood out as they were served as a course. I couldn't quite taste the langoustine, and the chilled lemongrass jelly was probably too weak to stand against the stronger-flavored caviar (or anything actually). It's such a pity - because the course certainly looked great in picture.

I quite like our second course of chestnut veloute served in a shot glass with Colonnata pork cappuccino, alongside a truffle Iberico ham tartine next to it. It's creamy, hearty, flavorful and very pleasant, especially in this winter weather. But then, that was hardly avant garde, and I wouldn't expect any less for this dish from this restaurant.

Our fourth course of scallops - which came after the foie gras dish (which was okay, by the way) - was both a hit and a miss. The scallops were surprisingly small in size - well, you may think size doesn't matter, but I think it does, plus there's not a lot of taste to show forth either. And I don't see what effect the chef's trying to pull off when he put the scallops into a plastic pouch and unwrapped it at the table before serving. Other than that, I did like the rest of the dishes - especially the combination of black truffles with sauteed savoy cabbage as the side dish, as well as the creamy crosnes sauce which compliments well with the scallops.

My main course of suckling pig with boudin noir, curried green lentils in morteau sausage sauce was my favorite of the evening. The pork was perfectly cooked - evident by its uniformly pinkish color - and the other ingredients fitted into the dish well. However, if I must find one thing to criticize, it would be the lack of creativity. I would have absolutely no problem if this is on the menu of any bistro, but for a Michelin 3-starred, highly-regarded restaurant, I did expect a little more to blow me away. Nonetheless I enjoyed this much.

The sight of the cheese platter arriving at our table got us excited, and we asked the sommelier to pick out a few wines to pair with the few cheeses we picked. And I loved the 2 desserts - pomegranate and raspberry cremeux, bergamot foam and peach sorbet was aromatic and refreshing, and I loved the many shapes, forms and textures presented in the final dessert of rochefort trappist beer granite, malt mousse, caramelized peanuts and crispy araguani chocolate - it's sweet but not over powerful.

We went easy on the wine tonight. I am never a syrah type of person, but as I looked for a balanced wine which would go well with our mains of lamb or pork, and also wouldn't overpower our lighter appetizer dishes, a rhone valley wine seemed to fit the bill. The sommelier recommended this one from St Joseph AOC by the famed winemaker Yves Cuilleron which was rounded and approachable at young age while retaining some of the rustiness, tannins and a sharp finish that I expected from an old world syrah.

We concluded our dinner with the lovely petit fours and a handful of house-made candies. The gracious wait-staff even let us pack some home as we couldn't finish them - they certainly made great addition to our Chinese New Year candy box at home. 

Our past visits to Caprice have been nothing but impeccable and beyond impeccable. Well, my verdict was a bit mixed this time I am afraid. Yes, no doubt the execution of individual dishes was great - I might even call that near perfect; and the cheese's as awesome as our previous visits (and definitely the best we have had anywhere), but I guess what I found missing is the "wow" factor that I was looking for from a restaurant of this caliber and from our past experiences. Yes, we have been here a few times and naturally any surprise or mystery that surrounded the restaurant and its food would have worn out somewhat, but still, given the menu changed regularly I would expect at least some surprises either in terms of ingredients or the way they were prepared.

Nonetheless, I think we will probably come back some time - it didn't change my opinion that this place is still one of the best in town with everything taken into consideration - and maybe with my expectation being lowered to somewhere closer to reality next time, I might fall madly in love with this place once again.

More pictures can be found in my flickr page:

When? February 8 2013
Where? Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong
Menu highlight: Larzac Suckling Pig, Boudin Noir and curried green lentils in Morteau sausage sauce
Drink: Saint Joseph AOC Les Serines, Cave Yves Cuilleron, 2006


Peech said...

What was the third course?

gary s said...

Third course is a steamed duck foie gras with pink lady apple, coriander compote and citrus jus.

Unknown said...

I think I found the same issue with Caprice during dinner time - it is just so boring and even if the execution is above average, it's not perfect either.

- I heard ordering A la Carte is better but anyway I swear my Michelin meals in Europe were pretty spot-on, so find no reason to return here plus I am a food snob. :D

- I think Lunch is more fun here. Dinner reverts back to yawn mode.

BTW always thought I followed u on my blogroll as I always read your site, but too many to keep up. Adding it back on now !

gary s said...

I agree, HKE. I think next time when I go back, it will either be for lunch (which I never tried) or for cheese-wine pairing at the Caprice Bar.