Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Restaurant Makeover

Earlier this month I came to check out the “new” restaurant Theo Mistral at Intercontinental Grand Stanford Hotel in TST East. I don’t remember when’s the last time I set foot in this hotel, nor what the original Mistral Restaurant looked like before the recent renovation and the introduction of Theo Randall as the new consultant chef (hence the name change), but I like the casual setting and open dining space with full view of the open kitchen on the side… just like what a contemporary trattoria should be like.

We were seated inside the private room this time, which was tastefully decorated with the long table, wooden furniture and framed photographs on the walls. And we were served a special menu highlighting some of the new dishes introduced by Chef Randall who’s also in town to oversee the restaurant opening. In my mind the original Mistral focused on old-school classic Italian cuisine, but the new Theo Mistral represents quite a change with a more casual take both in cooking/serving style and price point, I was told.

We started with the antipasti platter served family style – more like multiple 2-person portions places in the middle of the table for sharing. I love the burrata, made in-house and served in a small bowl with olive oil drizzled in. That’s all you need to go with the creamy flavor of the cheese. The bruschetta (with roast vegetables), the small plate of crab salad (Insalata di Granchio if you must) and the roasted asparagus wrapped with speck were all fine, and so was the pizza that Chef Randall brought to us, with tomato, mozzarella, basil, ham, parmesan and rocket – simple but well-made.

More than once chef emphasizes his focus on ingredients – which means most of them are to be sourced locally, and made in-house wherever possible, including all the pasta. We were given a taste of two – the Cappelletti di Vitello looks just like Chinese wontons, with slow-cooked veal and pancetta as filling and served with porcini and parmesan cream sauce, while the Ravioli was more about butter and herbs, with mixed green and ricotta filling and Swiss chard and sage on top. I probably like the Cappelletti more because of the soft meat in the middle, but that was a good meatless ravioli I must say.

We were given a choice of mains. Most of us picked the Guinea Fowl which was deboned and roasted with prosciutto with a rustic toast underneath, and sandwiched in between was sautéed Swiss chard, porcini and Portobello mushrooms, and the creamy mascarpone sauce with a touch of thyme and lemon zest. The meat has rich flavor with the crispy skin, and worked well with all the sides and of ideal individual portion (I assumed we were served the normal portion as per their a la carte menu). From what I saw the other main course, which was the grilled halibut, looked delicious too.

We were told repeatedly that the desserts were not to be missed (from those who have been to Chef Randall's other Italian restaurant in London - named the best in town no less), so I was saving my appetite to indulge in the few cakes and tarts served at the conclusion of our dinner. The Amalfi lemon tart was the one most talked about, but I thought both the soft chocolate cake and apple torte were just as good. Plus the Valrhona chocolate thins as petit fours at the end. It’s well worth the hype – I can totally see myself coming back even if it’s just for the dessert for a post-theater/post-concert treat or something. And from our dinner tonight, looks like this is a great addition to the local dining scene with familiar but excellent casual Italian cuisine.

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? March 21 2018
Where? Theo Mistral, Level B2, Intercontinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, 70 Mody Road, Tsimshatsui East, Kowloon
Menu Highlights? Arrosto di Faraona - Roasted Guinea Fowl
Web: www.hongkong.intercontinental.com/en/hotel-restaurant-and-bar/theomistral/

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