Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ad Hoc Dinner at Neighborhood

The other day I was asked by a friend what my go-to restaurant is in town - I thought about this question for a moment, and other than a few places near where we live that we go regularly and a couple places that I felt was a bit snobbish to say, the first one I could think of was Neighborhood, a French bistro-style restaurant in Soho that we adore much. It's good for almost every occasion and at any time of the evening; it's comfortable and reasonably priced, and the food never disappoints - in fact I couldn't recall having a bad meal or even a bad dish there.

On the last week before the Chinese New Year long weekend, we went there again as a group for an ad hoc dinner gathering of sort. We chose to start eating a tad bit early so for a good part of our dinner we were like the only customers in the restaurant before all the tables were filled up with people midway through.

The restaurant menu rotates regularly (with a few regular dishes) based on seasonal ingredients. A few of us saw what Chef David posted on his restaurant facebook page the other day and wanted a few of those dishes he highlighted.

At the end five of us (plus another one who didn't eat but drank) shared a dozen or so dishes, including a couple comp dishes Chef David sent us. The winter black truffles season began kind of late this year, so we only began to enter the peak season in February. Hence there's no surprise almost all our dishes were served with the aromatic truffles in various shapes and forms.

Veal Tartare/Raw Purple Artichokes
Salted Cod "Crudo"/potato/truffles
Tuna Belly Confit/Tuna Ham/Borlotti Beans
We began with a few cold appetizers then worked our way through to the richer hot dishes then cheese and dessert. The beef ham and veal tartare were both excellent with great meaty flavors, going well with the bread served on the side along with the wedges of baby artichokes given a quick fry on the pan. The salted cod "crudo" was almost like a crossover of traditional brandnade and crudo, with chunks of partially-cooked salted cod served with a potato salad and bits of black truffles.

Riviera Vegetables "Ducasse"/Truffles Bouillon
Black Truffle and Bone Marrow Risotto
Boudin Basque "Christian Parra"
We continued with a series of rustic dishes served in small portions as our main courses. The creamy risotto mixed with bits of bone marrow and completely covered with round slices of black truffles was as decadent as it could be. The boudin basque is one of our all-time favorites here - it's rich and gamey with the perfect texture, working well with the super creamy potato puree underneath.

Potato Raclette
Tete de Veau "Blanquettes" and Sturgeon Caviar
I personally could live with more cheese in the raclette dish but the overall combination of potato chunks baked with raclette cheese and topped with gherkins and bacon was a winning formula for something hearty. The combination of tete de veau and caviar sounds a bit too interesting at first but towards the end I came to appreciate the matching of the soft collagen from the veal with the oceanic flavor from the generous quenelle of caviar served on top with a creamy sauce.

Veal Sweetbread/Sunchokes/Truffles
But I thought my top favorite of the evening would go to the sweetbread dish. The veal sweetbread was milder and firmer than usual but still with that spongy texture without being overly rich and stuffy, and I love the subtle sweetness from that of the chunks of sunchokes inside the cast-iron casserole pot.

Brie de Meaux "Alleosse"/Black Truffles
Chocolate Palette
We remembered last time when we were here they ran out of our beloved baked brie with truffles and got only one chocolate palette left at the end, so this time we made sure that wouldn't happen again by ordering them BEFORE the meal. They were one of the few regular dishes on the menu and it's the only way to end such a satisfying meal. I felt with wonderful food and company, plenty of laughter and gossips over a bottle of riesling, this dinner at Neighborhood was priceless.

When? February 4 2016
Where? Neighborhood, G/F 61-63 Holly Wood Road, Central (entrance at Man Hing Lane)
Menu Highlights? Veal Sweetbread/Sunchokes/Truffles
Drink? Donnhoff Riesling 2013
Web: https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodhk

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