Friday, May 2, 2014

Long Table Brunch at Restoration

I was organizing a "mini" high school reunion/gathering of sorts with a few last month, but these days, with spouses and toddlers and children in the picture, that has suddenly became a meal for 20 people. I was looking for a venue that is convenient to all, where adults can chillax while children can hang around comfortably on a Sunday afternoon. At the end I decided on Restoration on Wyndham Street, one of the few restaurants in town specialized in Creole food, partly because I had an enjoyable dinner there a few months back and the place seems to fit the criteria.

Well turned out it's not exactly the most child-friendly restaurant of all - to start they didn't even have baby chairs (totally my fault but hey, why would I know) - but at least the space was more than comfortable for a big party like ours, and they didn't mind us taking over half of their dining area with the long table in the middle. And I do like its shabby chic decor with a rustic, somewhat random collection of tables and chairs and wall art tastefully put together, with natural light coming in from the large window with wooden pane on one side overlooking the quiet street downstairs and the hillside of Mid-Levels right behind. With the resemblance of a countryside cottage house with its tugged away location far from the weekend Central crowd, this is certainly a great place to chill on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But most importantly chef/owner Jack Carson is serious about the food he serves at his place, and he offered something different than the predictable brunch menu like almost everywhere else is doing in town. Plus he was actually kind enough to offer us a customized menu for the group with extended choices in addition to their regular brunch menu, which was even better.

We asked everything be served family-style so we all could have try more dishes. First up was the seafood gumbo which was hearty and flavorful, and from my impression, stayed true to the original Southern taste. Likewise for the Cajun-style hash which was served as a side dish - filled with feisty spiciness with crispy oven-fried diced potatoes, bell peppers and lotsa bacon and drippings.

But I saved my best compliments for the couple egg dishes that we had that afternoon, and I think those were what truly set this place apart. First was the poached eggs with catfish Lyonnais, served with shoestring potatoes, caviar and Hollandaise sauce. The soft and silky fish fillet was oil-poached in a pan (I think) and mixed well with the slightly cooked egg yolks in lava consistency on top (and more eggy taste from the Hollandaise sauce). Shoestring potatoes were deep-fried crispy and not oily, and caviar was added to the strong savory flavor. The other ones look similar with the eggs done the same way (poached) but this time served with pulled pork, gravy and biscuit. The pulled pork was moist and tender, biscuit rich, flaky and buttery, and blew any regular Eggs Benedict away by a long mile without a doubt.

I only managed to try half of the dish of fried chicken and waffles - the kids finished all the waffles in no time so I guess the verdict was positive, and the fried chicken was decent - well, not the best in town (I found the meat a little too lean) but definitely presentable with good flavors. What is not to love about waffles and fried chicken, right?

Chef Jack threw in two additional dishes from their regular dinner menu - I think the Grilled T-bone steak was excellent with good gamey meat flavor and cooked perfectly to medium done-ness, rightly charred edges and tender, pinkish meat inside. I specifically requested to include Jambalaya to our meal just because I haven't had a good one for a long time - probably ever since I moved back to Hong Kong for that matter, and I am glad I did. It's cooked in perfect texture - moist but not watery - and bombed with flavors from that of tomatoes and spices, and with plenty of andouille sausages, chicken and shrimps to go with.

All the food came with just the right portion so we were well-stuffed after the meal. And service was great - staff was friendly and helpful. One thing we didn't manage to try this time was their barbecue ribs - well it's not on the brunch menu, plus I don't believe we have rooms to chow those down anyway given the amount of food we had. But no worry, we are already plotting a return visit when they offered all-you-can-eat ribs every Wednesday evening.

When? March 16, 2014
Where? Restoration, 1/F, 63 Wyndham Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Poached Eggs with Catfish Lyonnais

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