Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shane's Last Call at St Betty

My previous experiences at St Betty has been hit or miss - while I love their Sunday roast for a casual weekend day out, my dinner here on a few occasions were forgetable, both in terms of food and services. With the location and the team behind the place has every potential to reach for greatness but for whatever reasons it simply fell a bit short. But as words came out that head chef Shane Osborn - who first made his name at London's Michelin-starred Pied a Terre - is moving on, I think it's good to have another visit on his last day at work in this kitchen.

We started our 5-course tasting menu with a bruschetta. I love the contrasting flavors of the slightly burnt toasted poilane bread, the sweet chili jam combined with the creamy avocado spread. The bread fared far better than the mini baguette served earlier which looked way under-baked with its scarily pale color - and it did lead us to wonder why such inconsistency at their pastry kitchen.

The second appetizer was typical of Shane's style, giving classic dishes a contemporary touch, with clean flavors and elegant presentation. Creamy burrata served atop a big piece of ox-heart tomato and at the bottom, clear gazpacho "essence" and drizzles of extra virgin olive oil. I like the refreshing touch of the consomme to the tried-and-true combination of tomato and burrata cheese.

Our pasta course was gnocchi with herb cream sauce, parmesan and black truffles. Gnocchi was well prepared and cooked, worked well with the rich and creamy sauce with bits of mushroom and pine nuts, and shaved black truffles - presumably from Australia - served in plentiful on top gave good aroma and brought to the overall richness of the dish.

It's not common to see a steamed fish in a western kitchen but the steamed pink snapper we had was delicious, and I love the harmonious combination of parsley root and pesto sauce, both tasted similar but in different shape and texture. Some sauteed girolles and broad beans were served on the side - more for presentation I reckon but they were tasty too.

A big piece of steak was served family style and shared among all of us. It's an Australian Wagyu T-bone roasted in the Josper Grill and served with morel sauce, charred red onions and pont neuf potatoes. The steak was perfectly cooked with intense meaty flavor, and I love all the condiments and sides that came with it - cloves of sweet slow-roasted garlic, charred rings of red onions, crispy deep-fried pont neuf potatoes, and the rich and creamy sauce of morel mushrooms.

We were a little baffled at the size of our cheese platter - we were given 2 big chucks of cheese - stilton and cheddar - that could have easily fed 20. Well, not that we were complaining as both were delicious - I usually wasn't too fond of the blue cheese but this one is not as pungent yet retained much of the distinct stilton cheese flavor - that strong mineral, nutty, peppery taste. Some of us were happy to bring them home since there's no way we could finish them after having so much food before.

Yuzu and Lemon Posset sounds like a perfect summer dessert, except I found the portion was again too big. It would have been a perfect pre-dessert in smaller size, bringing a little tanginess to the palate. Citrusy foam was filled into a tumbler with raspberry mousse at the bottom, and garnished by a long pulled sugar tuile. I personally thought it's a little too sharply acidic and I couldn't taste any yuzu, but it's still pretty good, if you happened to like lemon dessert. The petits fours of caneles and macarons weren't the best I had but both were decent.
At this place I sometimes feel I have to roll a dice and hope for the best, but luckily for me I think this is a very decent meal tonight. We can't wait to see where Chef Shane's heading next - we were very impressed with his dishes when he's in London, and I felt he couldn't quite get there with his first stop in Hong Kong. With a new direction I am hopeful we will see the better of him soon.

When? July 16 2014
Where? St Betty, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Josper roasted wagyu T-bone 6+ with morel sauce, charred red onion and pont neuf potatoes
Drinks? Livon Pinot Grigio Collio DOC 2012

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