Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Great Food By The Street Corner

The only thing that stopped us from trying Cornerstone earlier was their no-reservation policy, but we took our chances one Friday evening and tried to get our table, and surprisingly, we were promptly seated in the cozy dining room at the site formerly occupied by a sushi joint with only a quick 15-minute wait.

We love the food by Chef Shane Osborn, starting from his days at Pied a Terre in London than St Betty and Arcane in Hong Kong, so we were excited about the opening of his latest project, a more casual, down-to-earth outlet serving contemporary cuisine. I love the décor as we walked in and settled at the table near to the entrance, with the light color tone featuring long, upholstered banquettes on the side and marble table added to the touch of elegance. The dining area was cozy – with seating for around 20 with a small bar at the back – reminded me somewhat of the original site of Tate Dining Room not far away (before they moved to a bigger venue).

Menu was simple – one page of food plus one page of drinks. We were told the dishes were meant to be shared, and 2-3 appetizers plus 2 mains would just be about right for the two of us. At the end we did just that and slightly more. I would say the style of the dishes is similar to what’s offered at Arcane with the same simple approach and creative combination of ingredients. First were a pair of cold appetizers. The beef tartare stayed true to the classic version, except grated egg yolk was used rather than the raw one, and it’s topped with capers, shredded lettuce, celariac and baby artichokes. I love the rich flavor and excellent texture with the finely chopped rump meat. The Hamachi was another one, with slices of fish slightly cured and served with crème fraiche “broth”, chopped pearl onions and “shoestring” cucumbers on top with drizzle of olive oil. It’s creamy with a tad bit of acidity from the sauce.

We went for 3 dishes listed as main courses. The risotto was the only vegetarian one, with spelt risotto mixed with shiitake mushrooms, broccolini and mascarpone. The risotto was perfectly cooked with the firm texture and well coated with the creamy broth, and I love the smoky flavor with the charred broccolini and a generous dollop of mascarpone cheese in the center. The octopus was grilled a la plancha and served with a rich salsa sauce underneath, seaweed, potatoes and caper berry. The octopus was a little bit tough but the taste was great. Duck confit was the one of the special dishes on the night and that didn’t disappoint either, with the crisped skin and tender, well-marinated meat served with stewed white beans.

One cheese course (Comte with condiments) and two desserts were listed at the bottom of the menu and we ordered both desserts to share. Of course one has to be the Lemon Posset which were surely one of chef’s signature items. The version here is slightly different than the one we had, with more strawberry on top and served in a smaller glass. I thought it did take away some of the lemon tartness which I would love more of. The other dessert was a chocolate tart served with peanuts, cherries and Chantilly cream. Great texture from the chocolate mousse tart and I like the addition of peanuts to the equation.

I was won over by the offering of house-filtered still and sparkling water on the menu and their wine selection was lovely with choices near and far and many of them available by glass. I went for a chianti and seems to be appropriate for an easy dinner such as this. Service also deserves a shout out – staff set our expectation right in terms of waiting time and they managed to get us a table ahead of schedule, and throughout the dinner they were warm and attentive. Love this place and it’s definitely somewhere I don’t mind coming more often for an easy meal round the street corner in this busy neighborhood, though I doubt we could get away with such a quick wait on a Friday night for long.

When? August 16 2019
Where? Cornerstone, 9 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Spelt Risotto, shiitake, broccolini, mascarpone
Drinks? 2016 Gagliole Rubiolo, Chianti Classico DOCG

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