Cocotte – French Brasserie with a New York Vibe

One of the many fabulous things about the French language (the study of which eludes me daily, no matter how much I talk about picking it up again), is that there are so many words that have various different meanings, and some of the slang is just downright funny.  ‘Cocotte’ is one of those new ones that I just learned when I went to this fabulous new French brasserie earlier this week.

cocotte
kɒˈkɒt/
noun
         1. a small heatproof dish in which individual portions of food can be cooked and served.
         2. a fashionable prostitute.

Love it! I suppose the same thing exists in English where a word can be in one way defined as something to do with food, and yet have another completely different meaning (crumpet for example, or waffle), but it just sounds so much better in French!

Fabulous wallpapers

Fabulous wallpapers

The Bar

The Bar

Cocotte is a new chic French eatery that has opened on my favourite ladder street. It’s located just outside the periphery of the main crowds on Hollywood/Staunton, next to the Cabane a Vin wine cellar and just up from Kushiyaki Beco and On Lot 10.

Opened and run by the Moldovan brothers, who hail from Paris but have a love for all things New York, the decor oozes chic-ness. One of the owners is a friend, and it is so interesting to see his personality directly translated into the look and feel of the restaurant. I love the use of luxurious wallpaper, the moss green velvet banquette, the red white and blue mis-matched chairs, the retro lighting, even the dark purples walls in the bathroom.

And now to the food …

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Caprese Salad “Cocotte Style” – Burattina , heirloom tomato, basil, strawberry, aged balsamic HK$168

The burrata burst onto the plate upon the slightest touch, and the pairing with strawberries was unusual yet tasty.

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Steak Tartare – roquefort, “truffle egg yolk”, roquette salad HK$168 (or HK$228 as a main)

This dish is a thoughtful one – the beef tartare comes with roquefort, which you can choose to mix in or leave on the side (thankfully, for us blue cheese haters). The tartare sauce is served in a separate jar,  which I thought was very considerate to the diner – one can choose to add as much or as little of it as they’d like.

Foie

Foie Gras Royale – wood-smoked duck ham, rhubarb, raspberry, pistachio HK$168

The foie gras is served with smoked duck, raspberries and a sort of cookie crumb. It is not served with any toast or bread (perhaps you’re expected to eat it sans pain), but you can ask for it on the side.

Believe it or not, I forgot to take a picture of the ‘Langoustine, Barely Touched’. As the name suggests, the langoustine is just ever so slightly seared, very fresh and light. It is clearly one of their more popular dishes, and when we were told that the kitchen only had 3 servings left, we took them all.

Veal

Milk-fed Veal Flatiron – prepared like blanquette, chanterelle mushrooms, heirloom carrots, parsnip HK$ 328

The veal melted in the mouth; moist, with a very subtle taste, and it was perfectly cooked.

Fish

Royal Sea Bream – prawn, corn and brown butter bisque HK$ 328

The fish was very well executed, with a lovely creamy potato puree. Stacked on top were vegetables and crisp shrimp, resting on a rich lightly foamed bisque.

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Upper Modern Bistro

Having effectively been out of Hong Kong for the last month and a half, I feel like I’ve come back and ten different new restaurants have opened. Not only are they new, but they are impressive restaurants that have been causing a buzz and sending my Facebook news feed into a visual frenzy of food photography.

We were out for a nice dinner with our friends, the elegantly gorgeous KW and her ever-amusing beau BB – with company such as theirs, a meal is always off to a good start!  Fish & Meat was fully booked, and we were lucky that Upper Modern Bistro has just had a cancellation.

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The whimsical ceiling feature @ Upper Modern Bistro

Mirrors and a full glass panel façade makes the restaurant feel very roomy, whilst the soft colour scheme makes the space comfortable and welcoming.  Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fabulous ceiling feature, the design apparently is attributed to chef Philippe Orrico’s love of eggs. The kitchen is set slightly higher than the dining room, and is visible from the street so that you are greeted by the sight of chefs busying away.

At the time of our visit, it felt like the façade was not yet completed, and I had to squint and search to confirm that this was indeed Upper Modern Bistro.  But once I entered the restaurant, I was truly excited to start my meal. Our friends had been raving about how amazing the food was at St. George, the restaurant where Orrico was head chef previously to opening his own place. I had never had the chance to go, and anticipated a great meal at Upper Modern Bistro.

There’s a snack menu, a tasting menu, and the main a la carte menu to choose from. As enticing as the snack menu looked, we decided to go straight to choosing our main meal. With the 4 of us dining, I have lots of lovely food pics for you here!

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Oyster w/ Ponzu Sauce @ HK$ 58 each

I started off with 2 Brittany oysters, they were crisp and not too big with a fabulous ponzu sauce.

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Steak Tartare HK$ 168

As my first choice of moules marinière was sold out, I went for a bistro staple – the steak tartare.  It was unconventional, served on a base of avocado, mixed with pecans instead of capers, and topped with a parmesan cheese foam. If you are a tartare traditionalist, you will be disappointed, as it hasn’t the tartness or the heavier flavours of a traditional tartare. This one is light, with no discerning meaty taste as the favours of the avocado and parmesan overpowered it a bit. Still, the flavours went well together, and I enjoyed the lightness of it.

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63° egg, sauteed crab meat and Bellota ham HK$ 148

63° eggs are one of UMB’s signature components, and Chef Orrico uses them in his main dish of Mushroom Tagliatelle also.

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A bird’s eye view

KW’s starter of Chestnut Soup (no photo!) was dreamy, a rich, sweet cream of chestnut with complimentary shavings of white Alba truffle. Delicious. In fact, if you like creamy soups as I do, I would say that soup is definitely one of Upper Modern Bistro’s strong points!

For the main courses, BB ordered a delectable Quail and Foie Gras Pie. It is limited on the menu and yet it was still available for us to order. I suppose it may sound too heavy and rich for many, but I liked its traditionalism.  One bite brought me back to a meal that I had at Au Petit Riche, an old-school Parisian restaurant, where traditional recipes such as meat pies and tête de veau are predominant on the menu.  And hey, it comes with a salad!  With truffles shavings again, no less.

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Quail and Foie Gras Pie with Lentil Sauce, HK$ 328

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Accompanying salad with truffles!

My main course was the most mainstream of them all, but just as well executed. The pasta was wonderfully fresh and cooked perfectly al dente, and the 63° egg oozed its bright yellow yolk to create a smooth, creamy sauce.

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Mushroom Tagliatelle, 63° egg, cheese sauce and parma ham HK$ 168

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Oozing egg…

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Sole a la meuniere, butternut sauce and sauteed mushrooms HK$ 248

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