Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Weekend Lunch on the Top Floor

Looking out from the window from our table, we realized we probably picked the best days to have lunch at Restaurant Petrus up on the top floor of Island Shangri-la hotel, with the clear blue sky and the perfect Kowloon skyline view across the harbor in front of us. We don’t come here often but with their new chef Ricardo Chaneton - formerly of the Michelin-starred Mirazur in the French Riviera - just coming on board after going a couple years without an established chef de cuisine, I was curious to see how the restaurant fares these days, so we made a booking for lunch on a free Saturday in late June to check it out.

With most restaurants now going for a contemporary décor, Restaurant Petrus remained uncompromisingly classical, with the same style of crystal chandelier, golden brass sculptures and upholstery furniture since Day One, reminiscent of those traditional Parisian restaurants that one often saw in the old movies.

During the day the restaurant serve a simple set lunch menu – one can choose either a 3 or 4 course menu and with several options in each of the courses. For my selection, I first started with a chilled appetizer, with 2 pieces of the creamy and lightly-poached Gillardeau oysters with slices of cucumbers and lemongrass soup. It was a great summer starter which cooled us down in such hot weather with bold and refreshing flavors.

My second course kicked up slightly in richness but still on the light side, with the tender slices of octopus paired with onion tortellini served in a warm and Parmentier consommé made with potato and leek. The octopus was well-cooked with good flavor and perfectly soft texture, and I love the hint of smokiness contrasting the slightly sweet onion tortellini, bringing together by the clear but tasty soup.

There were a few options in the main course section that I wanted to try, and at the end I chose the chicken which I thought was probably one of the more difficult to execute. But it was excellent and easily my favorite of the afternoon. The meat was done two ways, the chicken thigh rolled with skin on and roasted, and the breast cooked sous-vide. The thigh was rich with good fatty taste underneath the skin and the breast was tender and moist. It’s served with the traditional albufera sauce, the reduced jus and sautéed girolles mushrooms for a classic, textbook combination of a poultry dish.

For dessert (or cheese if one so choose), I went for one described on the menu as "chocolate, oolong tea and hazelnut". Turned out it’s a small piece of chocolate ganache cake with bit of hazelnuts on top and oolong tea icecream on the side. One can't go wrong with such combination of ingredients and I thought it's okay but nothing "wow-worthy". Same can be said about the petit fours - they were even a bit underwhelming to be honest. Maybe we were just a bit spoiled in calling this "second best".

The lunch menu came with a wine-pairing option, which basically is letting the sommelier choose one from their "wine by glass" menu at a fixed price. One might argue pairing chicken with a red wine was somewhat unconventional (and that's not true, by the way), but I felt the food-friendly Saumur-Champigny from Loire was well-chosen and worked great with the rich and fatty chicken dish. Earthy on the nose, rounded on the palate with ripe black fruit and licorice and a hint of tobacco, mildly tannic with a medium length. Something easy and enjoyable.

Overall I thought everything was decent – front house staff was attentive and courteous, the dishes were impressive, wine was good, and hey, you can't fault anything with such a gorgeous view right in our face. It’s been a long hiatus since a captain is on board to steer the ship of this fine-dining restaurant, and I felt they have found one that may lead them places given more time to settle in.

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When? June 25 2016
Where? Restaurant Petrus, 56th Floor, Island-Shangri-la, Supreme Court Road, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? "Volaille Fermiere", Girolles and Albufera Sauce
Drinks? 2009 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny "La Marginale"

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