LoveBites Lunches – Cocotte

After visiting Cocotte for dinner when it first opened a few months back, I went back to this lovely French brasserie-style restaurant to try out their new lunch menu, which they introduced just a couple of weeks ago. The menu is a straightforward compilation of tasty seasonal dishes, beautifully presented with choice ingredients, and well portioned to fill you just enough but not leave you bursting at the seams.

You can either opt for the Express Lunch (starter and main) for HK$ 168, or the three course Executive Lunch at HK$ 198, both include tea, coffee or a soft drink. There is certainly a plethora of choice when it comes to lunch menus in the Central and Soho areas, but this one really stands out in terms of the quality of food and the high level at which it is executed.

Gazpacho - tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, extra virgin olive oil

Gazpacho – tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, extra virgin olive oil

 Frisée Salad - poached egg, lardons, Pommery mustard dressing

Frisee Salad – poached egg, lardons, Pommery mustard dressing

These two dishes are a light and refreshing way to start the meal. I’m not one to usually order a cold soup but this gazpacho is super refreshing, with a distinct bell pepper taste and I enjoyed the addition of whole cherry tomatoes for varying textures. The frisée salad is a simple dish with a perfectly poached egg and a grilled slice of baguette for extra crunch.

Confit of Salmon - Salt baked beet, tiny potatoes, horseradish cream, dill

Confit of Salmon – Salt baked beet, tiny potatoes, horseradish cream, dill

Steak Tartare -  truffle egg yolk, salad

Steak Tartare – truffle egg yolk, salad

For something a bit more filling, the steak tartare has got to be my favorite starter of them all. Add as much as you want of the tangy and ever so slightly spicy tartare sauce, with a dollop of the egg white and caper mixture after mixing in the fresh egg yolk (or not!) into that wonderfully tasty beef. The salmon was under-seasoned for my liking, although those baby potatoes and horseradish cream on the side were a nice accompaniment.

On to the mains, whilst hand on my heart I loved every one of them, the star of the show has got to be the filet mignon.  I’m not usually a fan of very lean cuts and usually opt for rib eye for an extra bit of taste, but this filet mignon was incredible – tender, tasty and perfectly cooked. I hope they never take it off the menu! Beware of those fries and béarnaise sauce, they’re dangerously addictive.

Beef Filet Mignon Frites - matchstick fries, Bearnaise Sauce

Beef Filet Mignon Frites – matchstick fries, Béarnaise Sauce

The codfish was also a fabulous dish, transporting you to the Mediterranean with perfectly cooked, large translucent flakes of codfish, moreish polenta disks (I have to try making those at home!!), and a really nice ratatouille.

Codfish Mediterranean Style - spiced ginger polenta, ratatouille, red beet reduction

Codfish Mediterranean Style – spiced ginger polenta, ratatouille, red beet reduction

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La Cabane a Vin – great French small plates and natural wines

After stuffing myself full of tacos for the past few weeks, I’m over South American food, and believe I’ve found my new go-to hangout for quick bites in Soho. Last Tuesday was the Grand Opening of La Cabane a Vin, a charming, rustic and well-situated bar/bistro on Hollywood Road.

Rustic you say, in the middle of Soho? Well, check it out…

The interior of La Cabane

The interior design, done by Elsa Jean de Dieu and Eunice Cheung from Effect, features exposed brick walls, wooden slats that resemble those used to make wine crates, swing chairs suspended from the ceiling, a small temperature-controlled cellar tucked away next to the bar, and all the small touches that make this place a really comfortable and unpretentious place to go for a drink and a (few) snack(s), a light dinner, or even a midnight snack.

Chilled Gazpacho – a rich tomato flavour, but a bit on the oily side for me $70

The local chefs, after some rigorous training, do a good job with the bistro dishes, and the rillettes and terrine are made in house.  The food is authentic, and everything is served in small plates so that one can choose to make a meal of it, or to just order a couple of dishes to accompany a bottle of wine. There are so many fake French bistros in Hong Kong (the worst of which has to be Brasserie de L’île), and it’s nice to see one that is doing it right! They are still tweaking the recipes a bit, and are tireless trying to source the freshesh and tastiest ingredients. La Cabane has tried to use organic produce from local HK farms as much as they can, but have mentioned that the quality is not always consistent; many of their ingredients are sourced from France.

You also have the opportunity to try all of their wines, it’s a huge selection, with some original names, and honestly priced. By that I mean well-priced, with bottles starting from the $200s.

“Les 3 Petits Farcis” – stuffed vegetables $90

MY FAVORITES: Beef Tartare – a wonderfully seasoned and prepared tartare, served with rustic French bread, and well worth the $110

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