I’ll first take this opportunity to wish Happy New Year to everybody! May 2013 bring you even more happiness, good fortune, delectable meals and lovely friends to eat them with! It has been some time since my last post, and for a good reason – yes, it was Christmas and then new year, but more than anything else, I have been preoccupied with another type of food. Food for the soul – LOVE. Yes, gooey, icky, sweet and wonderful LOVE. I have gone from having a truly amazing boyfriend, to having a truly amazing fiancé! For the next 10 months, wedding planning is going to be taking up a large part of my life and most of my spare time, and although I am tempted to perhaps have a little hiatus from blogging, I am always eating good food and wanting to write about it. So my posts may be scarce, and a tad shorter than usual – but I can’t give up the other love of my life – food.
As part of the celebration for our engagement, my fiancé (takes a bit of getting used to!) took my parents and myself to a wonderful new Italian restaurant in town. Another in a line of restaurants opened by foreign Michelin-starred & celebrity chefs, L’Altro is headed by Philippe Leveille, a two star Michelin chef of Miramonti l’Altro in Brescia, Italy, who serves Italian food with a French twist and flair.
Diners have the option of ordering à la carte, or from two tasting menus: a 6-course Tasting Menu 1 for $880 (gotta love those numbers, why not just go all the way and make it $888??), and an 8-course Tasting Menu 2 for $1080. When we visited in early December, we also had the option of the White Truffle Tasting Menu, which could be ordered with or without truffles. Now, dare I wonder why they would offer a menu that was built around the truffle with an option to not have it with the main attraction, but my man and my stepdad were more attracted by it – so we ordered two of these menu and two Tasting Menu 2s, and shared.
White Truffle Tasting Menu
Wonderfully creamy, a little on the thicker side, it didn’t exactly pique our interest for the rest of the meal, but it was a nice and light way to start it.
Now we could start talking! The lobster claw was generous … or at least one of them was! The other one was half the size in comparison – if we had just been served one portion then we would have been none the wiser. But to serve two completely different portions was unexpected for a restaurant of this calibre, and whilst we joked with the manager about getting us another claw – we were only really half joking!
Apart from this glaringly obvious size disparity, the lobster meat was incredibly tender and sweet, and whilst you wouldn’t think that lobster would go with the potato compote (really, a fancy name for mash), the combined elements of the dish complemented each other well.
The waiter did warn us that this course would be quite ‘normal’ without the truffle, and that it was. However, the consistency was perfect and the risotto was cooked, with lack of a different word coming to mind- to perfection.
Although it’s not much to look at, this was a wonderfully succulent and soft meat with a tasty emulsion and an accompaniment rich in flavour.
A creamy, delicious gelato served with a simple strawberry compote finished off the meal very nicely.
Menu Degustazione 2
A ‘bomboniera’ is a small gift or favour traditionally given by a host to their guests at special occasions, and as such this monkfish was a small gift to us, a little ‘welcome to our table’ to give us a hint of things to come. It was delicious – delicate, creamy, buttery, luxurious. Full stop.
At this point I have to mention one of the things we found most remarkable about L’Altro – their plating and presentation. This is where the French accent definitely showed – the plating was so attractive, and so well balanced, making every dish look beautiful. In this dish, the splash of passion fruit balanced the presentation as well as the flavour very well.
Again, beautifully presented, allowing for a little DIY flavour pairing for the diner (to have it with diced apple or caramelised onions, perhaps with a bit of salad or a touch of the sweet syrup?), this was another dish well done.
No, this tasting menu doesn’t feature two pasta dishes – so why are there two pasta pictures, you ask? Ah, well here come the 2nd problem we experienced with this restaurant. The tasting menu includes the homemade spaghetti with clams – this is the dish that is in all the photos and all the reviews of L’Altro, and I was looking forward to trying it. But on this occasion, they had … sold out of it! Who sells out of a pasta on the tasting menu?! I was really disappointed by this, although I must say that they were accommodating in letting us choose any other pasta off the a la carte menu. I was also given some lovely white truffle gratis, just to make sure I completely forgave them 🙂
This dish was in my opinion, a masterpiece! I may be a touch biased because I love quail, but this was even better than Robuchon a Galera. Robuchon’s quail is stuffed with fois gras, and I love fois gras – so that is a big statement for me. The quail is perfectly pink in the center, and to serve this with a poached, a fried and a soft-boiled quail egg was just genius.
All in all, we had a very enjoyable experience at L’Altro. And would I go back? Hell yeah, even if it’s just for that quail, and to (hopefully) try the clam spaghetti! The tasting menu 2 had much more thought put to it – we are aware that a white truffle menu should be more plain to let the truffle shine through, but it really shouldn’t have been offered without truffles in the first place, although the beef cheek did stand out. There are too many versions of potato (potato cream, potato compote, truffle and potato) in my opinion, and although all versions were very tasty, and a little more variety would be welcome.
We found that L’Altro has that little something that many mid-range haut-cuisine restaurants lack in Hong Kong. In addition to offering some truly flavoursome fare, they go the extra mile to make a dish look GOOD, we were pleasantly surprised with most of the dishes when they arrived at our table. I feel that it was $1080 well spent – which is not always a feeling that you leave with after an expensive meal. We left satiated, full, but not stuffed. This is definitely a restaurant on my “Like” list, and I’m sure it will be receiving a star very soon. Hell, if Chili Fagara gets a star, then this place bloody well should!
The wine list was quite extensive, with wines categorised by country (France, Italy, Spain). Whilst the wines are very good, there is not a large selection for the more price-sensitive customer, with most wines in the middle-to-high price range.
10/F, L Place
139 Queens Road Central
Tel: (+852) 2555 9100