Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Over the Monday blues at Chesa

Wanting a good, casual meal to cheer us up over the Monday blues under such erratic weather, we swung by Chesa at The Peninsula last week. It almost seems like the restaurant didn't change a bit for as long as we remember, with the same dark decor, wooden wall and ceiling resembling an Alpine chalet, with almost the same menu featuring classic Swiss dishes. We felt that's just the refuge we needed to chill and relax.

I was under the impression the restaurant was always packed and hard to book because of its limited space, but to my surprise this evening it was only half full, with just a few groups of customers, added to this sense of coziness. We were in the mood of going easy on the food so it didn't take us long to decide on the menu with mostly tried-and-true dishes. 

We began with a pair of appetizers to share. We couldn't imagine coming to Chesa without ordering Raclette du Valais, as Chesa is the only place in town who made this well. The plate of melted cheese was put under the broiler giving it a rich crispy crust and served with steamed new baby potatoes and condiments (gherkins, pickled pearl onions and baby radish, cherry tomatoes) on the side. Just simply mash the potatoes with the fork and scrape all the melted cheeses still bubbling from the warm plate then eat with the pickles, and we got the most simple and comforting appetizer dish bursting with flavors.

The Crabmeat Pancake is another dish we ordered quite often here. We don't know how authentic this is - I don't remember Swiss cuisine was known for any seafood dishes - but it was a tasty savory crepe stuffed with delicious picked crab meat and finished with a creamy lobster-Armagnac sauce.

I opted for the roasted quail with foie gras stuffing as my main course. I made a conscious effort of choosing something different this time and I couldn't recall having quail here previously. The dish reminded me of some generic dish from those old-school local-style western restaurants - completed with the cassis sauce, the creamy potatoes and even the vegetable sides of thin carrot slices and broccoli florets. But the quail was intriguing with juicy meat, crispy skin and smooth foie gras stuffing inside the de-boned bird. I was worried that the sauce might be too sweet but turned out it was delicious and well-balanced.

Normally we would be tempted to order the signature chocolate fondue for dessert, but this time we just stuck with the passion fruit chocolate cremeux cake the hotel prepared for us by prior arrangement. I was expecting a rich, dark chocolate type but this one was light and sweet. Typical quality as you would expect from the hotel's consistent pastry kitchen - it's good. 

Service has been something of a mixed bag for us at The Pen, but never ever did we have any issue at Chesa and this time was no exception. The intimate and cozy environment means we always get the best service and just the right amount of attention from the staff, and they were always friendly and helpful regardless of the occasions we are here for. It's truly an iconic culinary institution consistently kept up to high standard and never disappoints.

When? May 18 2015
Where? Chesa, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon
Menu Highlights? Raclette du Valais
Drinks? Deutz Champagne Brut Cuvee Peninsula NV
Web: hongkong.peninsula.com/en/fine-dining/chesa-swiss-restaurant

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