When I heard that Yannick Allèno was opening an outlet in Hong Kong, I immediately had visions of a new gastronomic paradise hitting our fair shores.
With his two Parisian Fine Diners rewarded with 3 Michelin Stars each, including his showpiece; Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen entrenched in the #Worlds50best restaurants (#31): How could I not get excited?
As more details emerged about the superstar Parisian chef’s Hong Kong establishment, my excitement was tempered somewhat with the understanding that there would be no ultra ‘gastronomique’ restaurant; rather a casual French Bistro.
Oh well, at least Terroir Parisien was close to my work; giving me an extra option for business lunches in Central. And I am partial to a nice simple French style menu…
As it turned out, I did get along for a working lunch with my mate Zoe; it has been ages since our last outing which was to the very tasty Ipoh (see post here)
Located on the border of the Landmark and Princess buildings, Terroir Parisien is like a subterranean dungeon; the fit out is quite modern and a little sterile with the best seats in the house located around the bar area. Which is where we were seated for our meal; affording us a great view of the dining room, kitchen and ensured we had quite a personal service from the bar staff.
The Menu at Terroir Parisien is massive, figuratively and literally. A huge amount of options are plastered all over the cardboard sheet, including details about Set Lunch, Happy Hour specials, afternoon Tea Sets, details about chef Yannick and even ‘Terrines et Pâtés’ for sale.
Oh, the even manage to squeeze in a full a la carte menu resplendent with soups, starters, mains sides, and desserts! To be honest, it looked a lot like a typical Hong Kong business website with a bit too much info; almost overwhelming….
We managed to narrow our choices down and eventually placed our order.
I kicked off with a super tasty starter of Grilled line-caught mackerel fillet with summer cauliflowers, tarragon, and mustard vinaigrette. It was quite a pretty dish, with an expertly grilled mackerel fillet (skin on) sitting alongside florets of cauliflower that had been pickled; each a different colour. I loved the intensity of the fish, which was both oily and very strong in flavour; the mustard was enough to add a little bite and the pickled cauliflower added an interesting astringency and texture. A light mayonnaise brought the whole lot together, but I particularly loved the mackerel itself.
Zoe had chosen the Snails baked in a Paris mushroom cap with parsley and garlic butter, which would have been my second choice. I didn’t try the dish, but it looked earthy and quite appetising in a cast iron pan.
Zoe’s main was another that I’d been considering, but once I tasted a little bite was pretty happy I’d gone in another direction. The thick Atlantic cod fish fillet with creamy green peas and lettuce was really quite bland; which was disappointing given its quietly understated beauty on the plate. There was nothing wrong with the cooking itself, the fish was perfectly moist and firm; it’s just that the whole plate lacked any seasoning, resulting in serious blandness.
My main kind of had the opposite problem; the farm roasted chicken breast with seasonal vegetables and Dauphine potatoes was incredibly tasty, but the chicken was overcooked and dry. I loved the presentation of the chicken in a deep cast iron skillet, the casual placement of the carrots and bean adding to the rustic appeal. The golden crispy skin of the chicken held much promise, but the minute my knife sliced through the chicken, I knew it was not quite right. The chicken was partially saved by the delicious pan sauce that had come from the cooking process, but dry chicken is pretty inexcusable.
There was a range of desserts on option, with Zoe going for the simplest of them all; fresh strawberries with Chantilly cream. You could not have had a more uncomplicated dish, fresh cut strawberries with a quenelle of cream. There is a reason why the classics are often the best, and not much is better than the simple combo.
I had mixed feelings about my caramelised choux pastry with kirsch custard Chantilly cream…. It looked lovely, and the first few bites were heavenly, the Chantilly cream sitting on a crusty base to form a tart was delicious, but there was waaaaay too much of a good thing and it became overwhelming pretty quickly. The three caramel encrusted profiteroles were a bit small, so the balance of the dessert was out – too much cream and not enough crunch. As much as I wanted to, I just could not finish.
Given the price point of Terroir Parisien, I thought the meal was quite passable, with some highlights and some minor issues; things like under-seasoned fish and overcooked chicken don’t ruin a meal, but definitely detract. Interestingly, one fish dish was bland and the other was so packed full of flavour, it was difficult to comprehend the contrast.
Service was outstanding though, we were well looked after and the team were genuinely interested in our feedback about the food; passing on the comments to the kitchen.
The dining room filled out quite nicely and by the time we were finished and ready to pay, the dining room was quite packed; although the bar area still had plenty of seats available. There was a quiet buzz about the dining room that was awesome to see.
I’m still really disappointed that Hong Kong’s first taste of Yannick Alléno is a casual bistro, much preferring to test his skills at an ultra-fine dining establishment. However, as far as bistro’s go, it’s not too bad; definitely room for improvement but a place that I’d be comfortable heading back to.
I guess if I want that ultra fine dining experience, I’ll have to plan another trip to Paris with the world #31 Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen in my sights!