Sunday, May 16, 2021

Taste of Mediterranean

We made a short walk across the street to visit a new restaurant before we ended our staycation. A few months ago we said goodbye to Café Gray Deluxe after 10 or so years at The Upper House hotel, and taking up its spot is Salisterra, a contemporary casual restaurant specialized in Mediterranean cuisine helmed by the UK-based chef Jun Tanaka. 

The space was said to have gone through a makeover late last year, but with the configuration stayed the same and I wasn’t here often enough, it didn’t feel too much of a difference with the restaurant took up half a floor on the top of the hotel and the long corridor leading up to the main dining area with the bar and more tables on the side. The day we visited was actually only their second day of official business, but the restaurant was filled with people already, eager to check out a new place to eat. A small a la carte menu was available for Sunday brunch, with a few dishes in each of the section – starter/small plates, eggs, mains and sweets. With the portion of the dishes meant to be shared, the waitstaff suggested the two of us ordered a couple small plates or egg course to start plus one main dish. 

I was expecting a little more of the bold flavor and exotic spices given the restaurant was said to be specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, but turned out the menu was dominantly classic Italian. We began with just that - the traditional Tuscan salad of Panzanella, prepared with sourdough croutons, pickled onions, tomatoes, and dots of creamy Fromage Frais. The generous drizzles of olive oil gave the dish wonderful flavor and the acidic tastes from the tomatoes and pickled onions were refreshing. And before our first course, the warm crusty olive oil roll was served – and we ended up having a couple of those because they were delicious even without any dipping sauce or butter to go with. 

We skipped the egg course and went for a pair of dishes from their main course section. The pan-fried Gnocchi was the second vegetarian dish we picked and I like the pillowy texture of the large-sized gnocchi served with a morel sauce and shaved asparagus and parmesan on top. Our other main course was chicken – the Spanish Urgasa Poussin to be exact. It didn’t turn out as what I expected but it was a pleasant surprise. The whole spring chicken was deboned and butterflied, smothered with spices on top and cooked on the Jasper grill. Served on top was a creamy sauce, with pickled onions, sugar snaps and more herbs as garnishes. The tastes were bold and bright, and the meat was juicy with a tasty fatty crispy skin. 

Three choices of desserts plus the cheese course were available in the Sweet section. I was curious about the “Mini Bombolini” so that’s what we ended up having. Turned out it’s nothing “mini” about these Tuscan-style donut sweets coated with sugar and with four different fillings. The banana chocolate was my favorite but I actually did enjoy them all. Then there’s also the warm madeleines served as petit fours – those were nice as well. 

They got a much wider selection of drinks, from both their wine list and cocktail menu. Went for a Negroni which was strong and refreshing. I think the place did go off to a nice start, with comfortable decor, friendly vibe and decent food. 

When? April 18 2021
Where? Salisterra, Level 49 The Upper House, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Grilled Urgasa Poussin with Preserved Lemon, Sugar Snap, Radish Salad

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