Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fine-Dining at Restaurant Week

When we saw Restaurant Petrus being listed as one of the establishments participating in the recent Restaurant Week promotion, it’s a no brainer. We always wanted to go back to check out the fine cooking of Chef Ricardo Chaneton and this just gave us the perfect excuse for a date night at his restaurant on the top floor of Island Shangri-la.

The dinner came on the same week as we returned from a short trip to Okinawa, so we definitely welcomed something other than rustic cuisine and in a nicer setting. The Restaurant Week menu at Petrus came with 4 courses, with choices in each of them, and Chef Ricardo did comp us with a couple dishes so for us it’s more like a 6-course menu.

We began with a couple amuse-bouche dishes. The shiso “tempura” was beautifully presented, with the whole shiso leaf coated in a thin batter and deep-fried, and topped with salmon roes and balsamic “caviar”, followed by a small cube of house-smoked salmon with green apples and carrot-orange puree. Both were delightful with refreshing flavor.

I went for the foie gras terrine as my cold appetizer course. The bloc of duck foie gras au torchon was matched with oranges turned into various forms – powder dusted on the plate, fluid gel on the side, dehydrated slice on top, and also a fresh wedge next to it. The mild citrus acidity from the orange worked well with the velvety texture and rich taste of the foie gras on this classic preparation.

We were told that my next course of lobster bisque came from a traditional recipe of the restaurant that passed down from the early days. Classic lobster bisque done with tad bit less cream and fortified wine gave it a lighter body and taste, and on top was a spoonful of parsley foam with fava beans added into the soup. Before our main course, Chef Ricardo sent us an off-menu course which was the sweet onions with winter black truffles. The clean taste of onions with a hint of sweetness – done in several ways – did provide a good “canvas” for the seasonal black truffles shaved carefully on the plate at table-side, with just a light drizzle of the creamy cheese sauce on the side.

There’s a choice of lamb or seafood as main course and I went for the latter. The piece of Corsican meagre fish fillet was pan-fried with the skin-on and minimal seasonings, and served with the saffron cream sauce (with a touch of mustard perhaps?) and puree de pois on the side. I could live with the fish skin slightly crispier but overall it’s tasty with classic preparation in Mediterranean style and I love the texture of the fish too.

We were caught in the dilemma of having to choose between the cheese and dessert but they solved that by telling us we could have both to share, and at the end, they gave us more than sharing portion. The cheese cart was wheeled in with a good selection. We were approaching the end of Mont d’or season, but I loved the spoonful of one of my favorite cheeses being served with good creamy texture and rich flavor, and other than that, I think the one I loved most this evening was the Epoisses, soft and with just the right punchy taste. The final dessert was the “Lychee Textures”, with both lychees and raspberries in different forms and assembled in a colorful presentation.

We went with a couple of champagne done as part of an experiment by champagne house Drappier when they tried a different aging method (in a project called “Immersion”), and we were served with two glasses side by side with the same cuvee but aged differently – one in the cellar and one under the sea at the same temperature 30 meters deep. Assuming everything’s largely identical, there was some subtle differences between the two and I thought the one aged under the sea was more expressive on the palate, bigger with more wheat and minerals, and more balanced like a well-aged champagne while the conventional one was sharper in acidity resembling one of a younger bottle - maybe the under-the-sea aging did accelerate the maturity. With wife going for the lamb main course, we went for the middle ground and picked a bottle of light(er) red from a great winemaker from Loire. A simpler Pinot Noir without much of the tannins but some light red fruit, worked well with my seafood main course yet got enough body to hold up for the meat dish too.

When? March 2 2019
Where? Restaurant Petrus, Level 56, Island Shangri-la, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Orange, Three-Spice Powder
Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or Brut NV (regular and under the sea)
2014 Domaine Les Poete Reuilly Rouge, Loire
Web: www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/islandshangrila/dining/restaurants/restaurant-petrus

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