After the successful opening of the Winebeast wine shop, the expansion of Le Bistro Winebeast by husband-wife duo Chef Johan Ducroquet and sommelier Cristina Carranco Ducroquet continues into its third year, showcasing an ample selection of fresh, seasonal dishes at a steal of a price. A four-course dinner is $498, or $598 with wine pairings.
Good French food is hard to find in the 852, although, ironically, the largest expat group in Hong Kong is the French. Your choice for French is either Michelin-starred restaurants or upscale brasseries, which serve food in small portions at hefty prices.
Le Bistro Winebeast is beautiful, with design elements resembling a wine cellar – think wooden wine cases, bottles of wine placed from the floor to the ceiling rails and a tasting table. The airy space with its large windows makes it perfect as a lunch or brunch spot during the daytime and intimate and cosy for dinner in the evening.
From refreshing and zesty starters to hearty signature mains, the underrated Le Bistro Winebeast is really a place that evokes fresh French flavours in the heart of Hong Kong. The frapas selection (4 for $138) was full of refreshing flavours, from the sweet and tart tastes of the whipped and puréed beetroot salad to the summery fragrance of the melon gazpacho (though the gazpacho was a little too runny and hard to scoop out and share from its glass cup). The frapas also offered a bit of crunchiness from the duck-confit croquette, a modern twist, but nothing to write home about. The Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Premier Cru Extra Brut Rosé Champagne was our first wine pairing – a champagne blend with rosé – but it was a little too dry for my liking.
What really caught my attention was the stuffed macaroni ($188), duck confit in large pasta shells with a cheese emulsion, Parmesan shavings, enoki mushrooms and big truffle shavings. The duck was melt-in-the-mouth tender, complemented by moreish butternut squash purée and toasted macadamia nuts. Delicious and luxurious at the same time, this dish was a real treat and a small taste of what we could expect from the mains.
Out came the seared red tuna ($238) and seared scallop ($238) for our main courses. Both were delicious, setting standards in quality, but they lacked originality in their presentation. Buttery seared scallop and tender, flaky tuna were both plated alongside hefty green asparagus, with different sauces (mustard, orange zest, pesto and olive purée) swirled around the plates. A lovely 2015 Maison Chanzy Bouzeron Clos de la Fortune Aligoté was served with the seafood dishes, a Burgundy with floral notes and a texture on the palate that was smooth and ripe but not heavy.
The grilled pigeon ($298) and grilled presa Ibérica ($278) followed, which were much heartier than the seafood dishes. These dishes showcased the kitchen’s expertise with traditional French cooking techniques. Both were tender, using a robust wine reduction as a complement to the heavy meat flavours.
Our favorite wine of the evening was the ÉTOILE de LAUDUC Malbec, which was a beautiful, deep-garnet red with a hint of purple. Powerful notes of blackcurrant and prune lingered on the nose and palate. This wine was light and slightly sweet, a great pairing for the heartier dishes.
While the desserts weren’t as innovative, or as French, as we’d thought they’d be, they were comforting as a sweet ending. A trio of mini desserts ($138) consisted of crème brûlée baked in a peach and topped with mango purée, a small slice of apple tart and a warm, freshly baked brownie.
In addition, we tried the lemon soufflé ($118), which was a highlight of the meal. Flambéed with Cointreau and served with apricot sorbet, it was irresistible, airy and light, perfect for sharing without leaving us feeling stuffed. An organic dessert wine was paired with the sweets, a Domaine Bellauc from south-west France, which had hints of pear.
Beyond steak frites, tarts and niçoise salad, the refined Le Bistro Winebeast might be one of the most underrated bistros I’ve been to in Hong Kong. The menu was filled with fresh flavours (in comparison to the buttery and creamy dishes I had expected) and the wine pairings were impeccable. Le Bistro Winebeast is a hidden gem amongst the expensive bistros and brasseries that dominate Hong Kong Island, and it deserves a shining star.
G/F and 1/F, Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road, Wanchai, 2782 6689
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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