Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steak and Pommes Weekend Brunch

It seems like ages ago being away for a week but we had a great casual brunch at Atelier Vivanda, a French bistro by Chef Akrame Benallal in Wanchai, just before I left. Located on Ship Street just a few shops down from Chef Akrame’s other restaurant, Atelier Vivanda is a lot more easy-going in style, with an open dining area with wooden tables and chairs, and a bar/open kitchen on one side.

The restaurant ran on a super simple menu system, which is basically prix fixe with a choice of appetizers, main course, sides and dessert, with focus on steak and potatoes, both of which the house specialties. Weekend brunch is something that they only started offering recently and ran on a similar concept, but this time, more like a semi-buffet with unlimited refills of appetizers, sides and desserts. So all we needed to do was to decide on our main courses.

We began with a bread basket served in a paper bag and some cold-pressed juice. I wasn’t sure whether the bread was baked in-house or sourced elsewhere (we didn’t ask), but the croissant in particular was spot on, soft and super flaky. I always like an extra slab of butter on my croissant but here there’s an option of their own house blend of olive oil, and house-made jam for the bread too. Both were decent.

Meanwhile, we were served a sample of all appetizer dishes to share (given you could order as many as you like) My favorites were the slices of aged Comte and smoked beef and baby tomato confit. The smoked beef is one of their signature items here, cured in-house and served paper-thin. Has good meaty flavor with a strong hint of smokiness and not too salty, working great with the bread basket. The soft-boiled egg sounded and looked nice but unfortunately it's a bit overcooked.

We were shown the various cuts of steak to choose from, and we picked two different kinds of American Black Angus Steak and asked both be served rare with just a quick searing on both sides. The Persille is the more tender one with marbled fat whilst the Flank was leaner with stronger flavor. I personally liked the Persille more and both were cooked just to the right done-ness. There were five different types of potato dishes to choose from for our sides. My favorite was a toss between the Pommes Galette, the crispy deep-fried potato cake with scallions, and Gratin Dauphinois, scalloped potatoes baked with cream. Both were comforting and delicious.

We rounded off with a few desserts and a pair of madeleine – wish I had room and time for more since the crème brulee was really tasty. I especially liked it extra sweet with a perfectly caramelized top. The madeleine was well-baked too with deep golden brown sides. For the dishes they offered, at this price you simply can’t go wrong with such excellent quality and quantity. As we left, we were already thinking about coming back for dinner some time – maybe with a few meat loving friends.

(The meal was by invitation and paid for by the restaurant)

When? October 22 2016
Where? Atelier Vivanda, 9 Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Black Angus Persille, Pommes Galette
Drink? 2012 Chateau Giscours La Sirene de Giscours

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