Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fancy Lunch at L'Altro

It's like a constant carousel movement with dining establishments come and go at L Place in Central faster than you blink, but L'Altro on the 10th Floor has been the longest lasting one still standing. We never got a chance to come around to check out this fine-dining restaurant, but I am glad I finally did just that last week for lunch, just when my long holiday is sadly coming to an end.

The first thing that caught my attention as I walked out of the elevator was the bright and comfortable decor. The light-colored furniture, minimalist arrangement and ample natural light let in from the large windows on the side made the dining space particularly pleasant to be in. It's not particularly crowded on the day of our visit, so that added to the rather laid-back atmosphere, despite its location right in the middle of the central business district.

Our lunch was organized by their PR team and the menu was customized in smaller, tasting portion so we could try as many dishes as we could, and luckily I did bring a good appetite for the 8 courses presented. Overall I would describe the cooking as contemporary Italian - all dishes started with a good, simple combination of traditional ingredients, then added to it moderate use of avant-garde techniques and delicate plating to finish.

I think all the dishes we tried that afternoon were well executed - starting with an appetizer of Mediterranean red tuna tartar with a tomato sauce, basil sorbet and crispy parmesan flatbread. It has a rich and balanced flavor with the fatty chopped tuna combined with the tangy gazpacho-like sauce and generous drizzle of olive oil, and the bread provided an extra dimension of texture, along with the tasty sorbet. That was folllowed by another appetizer course, this time a warm dish with thick-sliced braised octopus, served with grapefruit and Buffalo stracciatella cheese. The octopus was a bit tougher than I expected but overall the dish tasted good with interesting mix of flavors.

We then had not one but two primo courses - first the asparagus risotto presented family style, followed by the pasta, the paccheri with duck ragu, both I enjoyed very much, and thought they were prepared true to the traditional flavors and style. I particularly loved the risotto made with three different kinds of cheese bringing in super-rich flavors to the perfectly-cooked rice.

Both of our main courses came with great presentation and "clean" flavors. The sea bass was beautifully plated with mussels, clams, cauliflower, and basil foam, and I loved the fish's firm texture and nicely crisped skin. And the iberico pork was clearly the winner of the afternoon - the loin bit was rolled and slow-cooked to the perfect done-ness and the belly was broiled with the perfect crisp skin. The meat taste was impeccable too - I wouldn't expect less for Iberico pork and it delivered just that, and the use of plum-sichuan pepper sauce to match was an interesting one.

My heart was cheering with the sight of a gigantic "mountain" of gelato being brought to our table after our main courses were dished away. A generous scoop of their signature gelato - based on an old recipe - was spooned into each of our glass with warm and sweet strawberry coulis poured on top. That was followed by our second dessert, a pistachio semifreddo. Both of them were amazingly good - similar yet different in taste.

At the end of our 3-hour lunch we were completely stuffed in a delightful way. Thanks L'Altro for the lovely treat and I will certainly add this to my list of favorite Italian restaurants in town - under the "Fancy" category.

More photos on my flickr page:

When? October 5 2015
Where? L'Altro, Level 12, L Place, 139 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Roasted Baby Iberico Pork - belly and loin, plum-sichuan pepper sauce, fried potatoes
2014 Schiopetto Pinot Grigio, IGT Venezia Giulia, Italy
2008 Tenuta J. Jofstatter Riserva Mazon Pinot Nero, Alto Adige DOC, Italy

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