Sunday, February 16, 2020

First Impression

We dropped by L'Enfol for a quick weekend lunch on the weekend right before the Chinese New Year in January. Chef Olivier Elzer attracted quite a following locally at his previous restaurant Seasons (and before that, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon) and needless to say, his new venture at St Regis Hong Kong was much anticipated by many.

The hotel - located on the fringe of Wanchai business district - was done in typical St Regis style, combining luxury and comfort in a boutique hotel setting. Traits of those continued into the interior of L'Envol on the 5th floor, with the spacious dining area with the wooden tiled floor, clothed table, lounge seats, and huge windows on two sides letting in the natural light. Tucked on the side was the open kitchen, plus the showcase of their vast wine collection.

They precariously put us in one of the smallest tables in the dining room when there were obviously larger tables available for the two of us - still very comfortable by all means so no complaints here. Two menus were presented and introduced to us - one for the set lunch (of 3, 4 or 5 courses) and one for the tasting menus. At the end we went for the 4-course lunch option while nibbling on a pair of canapes, loaf of bread and crisp with creamy shallot dipping sauce served as amuse bouche. Among those I love the sardine tartlet served in a mini ginger bread and topped with wasabi coulis.

I had scallop as my first course. A couple Normandy scallops were cured with citrus juice and sliced thin, it’s served with slices of mandarin and cabbage with a light dressing and a gently sprinkle of chilies and spices. It’s refreshing, and I love the pure taste of the dish without much extra flavor added. I struggled with the option of going for a second appetizer course or the soup, but at the end I went for the broccoli velouté served with souffle au Comte. The soft souffle was served in a deep dish, followed by the pouring of green soup into the dish in front of us. I thought the grassy flavor from the velouté did overwhelm the rather mild cheese souffle. But again, the original flavor of the ingredient came out nicely.

I thought chef went for the safe choices in terms of the main course options with a number of straight forward dishes. I thought my cod dish was fine – poached and finished with a honey glaze and grilled for that slightly sweetened crust. On top was deel-fried capucine root and slices of raw radishes, and then underneath was beurre blanc mixed with caviar. It’s something hard to go wrong and the dish was beautifully executed with good texture and rich flavor.

I had my initial regret at picking a red for our light lunch dishes… but I had no one to blame but myself for not thinking straight. But with the wine from Rhone Valley opened up beautifully after some time in the glass, medium-bodied with a pleasant floral aroma and some black fruit characters, it’s still very much enjoyable on its own.

Again, I thought chef went for the fail-safe choices with three crowd-pleasing dessert options plus the cheese platter. The Mont Blanc was well plated and tasty – with the creamy chestnut parfait topped with dark rum Chantilly on top and chocolate thins on the side. So my thought? Chef Olivier picked up right at the same high level he left at the old Seasons, and I am sure with this new restaurant in a more luxurious setting, there’s every potential to eventually grow into something even better and add to the fine dining scene in town.

Complete photo album is here:

When? January 18 2020
Where? L'Envol at St Regis Hong Kong, Level 5, 1 Harbour Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? White cod caramelized in acacia honey, crunchy radish, capucine root and caviar sauce
Drinks? 2016 Domain Richaud l'Ebrescade Cairanne AOC

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