Sunday, February 26, 2023

Slightly Longer Lunch

I was at lunch at Estro the other day to check out some new dishes on their seasonal menu. It's been a while since my last visit (in June last year - I checked) but we were at Chef Antimo's crossover dinner at Tatler Dining event a few months ago. Anyway, it's great to sit down at his restaurant once again with the most relaxed vibe (the dark pastel color theme helps) at the table directly looking over the open kitchen. 

My schedule did run a bit tight this time in the middle of the day but the kitchen team managed to accommodate and delivery everything right on time without having to rush through at the end.  Our lunch began with a series of canapes in bite-sized portion. The pear was cured with liquor (Crodino if I remembered correctly) and offered a refreshing way to start, followed by the cute pillow-shaped tartlet with tuna and dome-shared burrata and caviar. Meanwhile the bread basket was offered with a choice of olive oils of different styles. And our choice? All of them, but this time I did particularly enjoy the bottle from Sicily pressed with 100% indigenous Nocellara olives for the hint of savory, apples and stone fruit notes and pleasant aroma.  

Chef definitely put a nice warm season touch to the first course of scallops with the use of ingredients with contrasting flavor. The pieces of scallops were perfectly done - textbook example of how mi-cuit was defined - and on the side was chunks of blood oranges, kolrabi puree and slices of cauliflower - just gently cooked and slightly caramelized. Finishing off the summer-y flavor profile was gazpacho underneath for the zingy, punchy taste. 

We moved on to another beautiful dish, this time a variation to the traditional minestrone. First the soup was done without tomatoes and served in clarified consomme style. The soup itself was rich and intense, and in the deep dish there were more ingredients such as zucchini and sweet peas and underneath was the silky basil custard. 

The two pasta courses were done in two totally different styles, first the scialatielli cooked in a basil sauce so the long and thick pasta was completely coated in green color and underneath was the picked king crab meat which was only minimally seasoned to offer the contrast in taste, and in the midst was the Amalfi lemon zest offering amazing aromas and a touch of acidity with its juice squeezed on. Second one was the more traditional flavor, with linguine served with the classic tomato sauce with pieces of smoked sardines and crushed olives on top - the overall taste was well-balanced. 

The main course was lamb in two cuts and artichokes done in three ways. The bone-in rack ad loin cut of the Spanish lamb was seared on the pan and served with artichokes in whole, crisp and puree, and on the plate there's also pearl onions and meat jus as accompaniment. Love the rich taste and thick consistency from the meat jus reduction, and the artichokes provided the right sweetness. 

Again, what a good introduction to the warmer season with a strawberry dessert with strawberry gelato paired with strawberry meringues and candied strawberry chunks, then it's garnished with a white chocolate "tuile" on top. The "Sweet Ending" is always a happy one, with the housemade pistachio gelato and petit fours (timamisu truffle and a mini rum baba with oranges). 

Set me right into the mood of back to work for the rest of the afternoon (or not). 

Where? Estro, Level 2, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Long Scialatielli, King Crab, Amalfi Lemon
Drinks? Barone Pizzini Pievalta "Perlugo" Dosaggio Zero Spumante NV

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