Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Steak, Frites and Wines

It’s been a while since I returned to eat at AnOther Place, the speakeasy restaurant near Causeway Bay affiliated with Hip Cellar under the same roof, and where some of our wines were stored. The month of May saw another iteration of their operating model of this venture now in its 6th year, geared towards a simpler, more casual bisto-style menu for groups big and small. Of course, wines remained their focus, with the generous BYO policy allowing customers to enjoy their own wines freely with the dishes served. And I also like the view of the Hong Kong skyline on a nice day (and night) from the window of the cozy dining space. 

Obviously such change was well-received so far, with most of the tables booked on the Friday evening we were there. Owner and a good friend of ours E was generous enough to send us a bottle of red to start, while we wait for the rest of our friends to arrive, and then a few more bottles were popped. The 3-course menu featured a choice of appetizers, mains and desserts. My first course of smoked quail leg was a pleasant surprise – with the piece well cooked with a hint of smoky flavor and on the side, escargots served in a puff-pastry tartlet resembling the real shells with the herb butter on top. Both the presentation and execution were top-notch. 

I went with the relatively fail-safe choice for my main course – Steak n Frites. Again, the dish exceeded my expectation, with the piece of Australian Angus Sirloin cooked to medium-rare as I have requested and served with warm French fries underneath. The steak was well-seasoned and the meat jus and mustard served on the side were just icing on the cake. It came with decent portion too – not like those tiny-teeny piece some proper restaurant decided to serve us with when I expected a big slab of meat.

The dessert of apple crumble was cleverly done – I suspect it’s made ahead of time and frozen, so all that’s needed was popping that into the oven when it’s ready to be served. And on the side was a scoop of vanilla icecream and a slice of dehydrated apple. It’s a smart dish to be on the menu for a restaurant of such size. My only complaint was the golden cherry was not candied as the menu described – and brought a bit too much acidity to tip the dish slightly off balance. 

We each contributed some bottles taken from our own storage space at the cellar, but we coincidentally came up with the flight dominated with Italian reds. Before that, we began with a nice Blanc de Noir champagne, powerfully made, good cherries on the palate, brioche and a hint of salted plum that suggested some age of the bottle. Glad we started off with the 2008 Haut Bailly with its medium body. Some pleasant floral aroma which led into the palate of cherries and blackberries plus some cocoa, cedar and finished with a silky tannins. Turned to the Super Tuscan next with a similar tone but will a fuller body and more fruity. I love the long finish too. 

I opened the first of the 2011 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis from the case we kept, with the wine approaching its drinkable age. Leather nose with a hint of truffles. Some red fruits and good tannins. I liked the nose more than the taste now but promising. Finished with a decade-old Sicilian red with the name meaning “One Thousand and One Nights”. Full-bodied with nice ripe red fruits and worked nicely with the rest of the line-up and with the steak main course in particular.

Time really flied on an evening like this with simple dishes plus good wines and company. And given everything else happening around us these days, better eat and drink well while we can. 

When? May 29 2020
Where? Hip Cellar/AnOther Place, 5/F, Block C Sea View Estate, 2-8 Watson Road, North Point, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Smoked Quail Legs with Escargots
Henri Giraud Code Noir Brut Champagne NV
2008 Chateau Haut Bailly, Peasac-Leognan
2006 Marchesi Antinori “Solaia” Toscana IGT
2011 Luciano Sandrone “Cannubi Boschis” Barolo DOCG
2008 Donnafugata Rosso Mille e Una Notte Sicilia IGT

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