Thursday, December 1, 2016

Butcher in Residence

We dropped by On Dining one Friday evening when Parisian butcher Hugo Desnoyer was in town to present a few special dishes at the restaurant, using the meat produced by his shop, of course. I managed to get out of office fairly early, so 30 minutes before our reservation time, I was already there, having a pre-dinner drink at the bar upstairs to catch a breather from a hectic work week. Soon I was joined by other friends as we moved to our table downstairs.

For 3 nights only, a separate a la carte menu was offered using meat from Hugo Desnoyer, in addition to their usual choices. Well there were too many we were tempted to try, but most dishes were meant to be sharing. So among the four of us, at the end we decided to just go for the dry-aged cote de boeuf, said to be good for 4-6 persons and weighed around 1.5-1.6kg (with the bone)

We were told that the beef would take a while to prepare, but we passed up on the appetizers and saved room for our meat. Meanwhile, we started munching on bread and butter and started with a bottle of white, then soon, a couple small dishes were brought to our table as amuse bouche, as a prelude to our main dish. I personally quite liked the corn done 3-ways (puree, whole kernels and icecream) surrounded by orange syrup. It could have been a dessert dish but it’s quite interesting as our first course – at least I didn’t know orange and corn could go with each other. The second amuse-bouche was a simpler one - mushroom soup with the creamy espuma and bit of cheese at the bottom of a coffee cup. It's tasty too.

Soon the whole piece of bone-in ribeye was shown to us at the table, before being brought away for carving and served in individual portion. Turned out the piece was not as humongous as I expected – well more than enough for 4 of us, but I think we would find the portion a bit small if there were more people sharing. The meat was cooked medium rare, as we have requested, and no doubt the meat was of great quality, to the extent I didn’t think they did a lot to season the meat. It was flavorful as is, just with a light sprinkle of salt and peppers perhaps. It was so tender that in retrospect I thought a bit more cooking (to medium done-ness perhaps) would even be better in this case, giving the piece a bit more flavor and texture. On the side there’s beetroot, piquillo pepper and meat jus reduction. I like the beetroot bringing in a sense of sweetness but thought the piquillo was completely buried with other rich flavors.

After we finished our portion, we asked for the bone and the trimmed bits and soon they brought that over in a plate, sliced and well plated. And to be honest, we actually preferred the part closer to the bone for its meatier taste (that’s why I said the meat was probably better off more cooked in this case). I brought along a bottle of red, but I was a bit disappointed by it – nothing wrong, but I expected it to be more expressive and it’s still very closed even towards the end when it got a chance to breathe in the glass. Maybe opened a few years too early. Oh well.

Didn’t know what happened to us, but after our meat, we felt like calling it a night and didn’t order any dessert. That must be the first for a long time. But it did feel just right, finishing with just one main dish and happy with what we had.

When? November 18 2016
Where? On Dining, 29th Floor, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Dry-aged Cote du Beouf by Hugo Desnoyer
2011 Josmeyer Le Fromenteau Pinot Gris, Alsace
2002 Dominus Estate Napa Valley

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