Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Guest Chef Encounter at Brasserie on the Eighth

I was at the dinner at Brasserie on the 8th at the Conrad Hotel a couple nights ago, featuring guest chef Stephane Gaborieau as he spent the week working behind the kitchen presenting some of the signature dishes from his restaurant, the Michelin one-starred Le Pergolese in Paris.

In Hong Kong, there's no shortage of visiting chefs coming to town for a short stint, but Chef Stephane's background and caliber still caught my interest, being an award-winning chef, a successful restaurateur and a published author of a few books on cooking. And he seems to be very friendly and approachable too, when he stopped by for a quick drink with us before the dinner began.

What we had that evening was the 6-course degustation dinner menu, the same that is going to be offered at dinner time at the restaurant for the rest of the week, along with the a la carte menu available both for lunch and dinner. And we had the pleasure of dining in the private room on the side of the restaurant facing a little garden outside the window with the skyscrappers in the backdrop. Their PR team was so kind to even set up a video feed in the room so we have a view of the open kitchen outside where the culinary team was busy preparing our meals. We had so much fun observing the chef actions and one another's company as the evening progressed.

Basque Style Tender Sardine Fillets marinated in herbs and slowly-cooked bell peppers with fresh tomato sherbet
We started with some tender sardine fillets, which were well marinated with spiced, then oil-poached and served on top of finely julienned and slow-cooked red and yellow bell peppers and onions, with a bell pepper sauce, vinegar reduction and drizzles of olive oil, plus a quenelle of refreshing tomato sorbet. This cold starter course has Mediterranean influence written all over the plate, and has every criteria to be a perfect summer dish - with eye-catching colors, attractive presentation, and bold flavors.

Cream of onion with Parmesan Chantilly
Moving on it was a Cream of Onion Soup with Parmesan Chantilly. It looked to be a simple dish but not without some pleasant surprises as I tasted by the spoonful. I was expecting something creamy and smooth, but it's intense and hearty, with the taste of sweet onions and rich cheese coming through to complement each other. Cream was applied just enough to bring everything together, but not too much to overwhelm the dish.

Blue Lobster Lasagne with organic roots, shellfish juice and gingers "from Joel Thiebault".
The Blue Lobster Lasagne didn't look like what I expected as well. On one side of the long plate was poached lobster claw meat served on the whole with a shellfish juice reduction sauce underneath. Then on the other side is a "lasagne" with layers of root vegetables and lobster meat. Both were tasty in their own rights, with the claw meat being soft and juicy, and the "lasagne" was well-structured, full of flavors with interesting textures in each layer.

Farmed Pigeon cooked in woodcock style, served with beets, spinach napoleon and gingerbread sauce
The pigeon dish was another course where Chef Stephane played with different textures. Essentially this is a pigeon dish cooked 3-ways. First the breast was filleted and slow roasted, with the meat cooked tender and juicy with a hint of smokiness. Then the leg - with the richer dark meat - was seared with the bones on, and underneath was a pate made with the innards and served on a thin toast. So, three different parts cooked three different ways, resulting in three different textures and three different tastes. All were delicious on their own and together. Summer is not typically game season but this rustic game dish was nicely done.

Veal Sweetbread Piccata, with sage, green asparagus, charlotte potatoes and pearl onions
I wish I had room to finish the veal sweetbread piccata dish. It's an interesting contrast between the intensely rich and firm sweetbread and the minimally-seasoned green asparagus, pearl onions and bite-sized charlotte potatoes arranged beautifully with a bit of sage on the side. I like the overall balance and the simple presentation of the dish as well.

The dinner came with wine pairing specifically designed for the menu. The wines - from appellations ranging from Rhone Valley to Languedoc to Cotes de Provence - were not complicated but consistent with the regional theme of the dishes. I felt they were well chosen and worked great together with the food being served. My personal favorite was the Cote de Provence Rose from Domaine Saint Andre de Figuiere served in the beginning. It's a youthful and aromatic wine with slight hint of ripe strawberries and good acidity, making this a perfect everyday summer table wine.

Sphere of White Chocolate, with strawberry soup, minted white chocolate ganache and pistachios
The final course of dessert was a combination of some of my favorite ingredients - strawberry and white chocolate, with the former turned into a cold soup, and the latter was made into a sphere filled with smooth ganache. It's probably a tad sweet for some, but I found it appetite pleasing and turned out I had absolutely no problem finishing it just when I thought I couldn't eat anymore.

Overall I love the cooking style of Chef Stephane - it's very straight-forward, using classic techniques with a modern twist, matching simple flavors together to create timeless dishes. It was a lovely evening with good company, good food and good wine. Not sure if I have time to come back to try more of his dishes this time (he's staying until June 15), but rest assured I will keep an eye on his return next time around.

Thanks Conrad's Marketing team for the marvelous treat on a Monday evening!

More pictures on my Flickr page:

When? June 9 2014
Where? Brasserie on the Eighth, Conrad Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Basque Style Tender Sardine Fillets marinated in herbs and slow-cooked bell peppers with fresh tomato sherbet
St Andre de Figuiere "Premiere de Figuiere Rose" - AOC Cotes de Provence 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac "Pont de Gassac Blanc" - IGP Pays d'Herault 2011
Mas de Daumas Gassac "Pont de Gassac Rouge" - IGP Pays d'Herault 2012
Domaine de Triennes "Sante Fluer" Viognier Vin de Pays du Var 2011

1 comment :

foodcourteer said...

man thats a lot of food!


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