Named after the Roman god of wine, it’s no surprise that newly opened Bacchus has a central focus on good wine. Housing more than 800 labels from around the world on its extensive wine list, Bacchus is headlined by Executive Wine Director Hervé Pennequin, who has had an illustrious career in wine.
The wine educator and sommelier was awarded the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole in 2015 by the French government for his role in bringing French culture to the world through wine, as well as earning the title of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale’s Third Best Sommelier of the World in 2004 and Best Sommelier in France in 1989. The role of Head Sommelier at Amber brought him to Hong Kong, and he most recently developed the entire wine programme across 50 restaurants, two wine shops and one online retailer with Hong Kong Jockey Club.
In the kitchen is Executive Chef Mickael Messina, who, in collaboration with Consultant Chef Laurent Varachaud, has curated a menu of French classics with Asian influences. A native of Chantilly, France, Chef Messina has worked at the prestigious Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris, The Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman, Parisian tea room Angelina and was most recently the head chef at L’Open House in Apremont, France. He is a recipient of the distinguished Living Heritage Company award.
Chef Varachaud has worked with some of the top chefs in France, from La Grande Cascade in Paris and three-Michelin-starred Louis XV in Monte Carlo with Alain Ducasse to Sketch in London with Pierre Gagnaire. He has also worked at Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and, in Hong Kong, Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental and Aberdeen Marina Club.
In addition the formidable pedigrees of the wine director and chefs, Bacchus also boasts a gorgeous interior and two terraces, with a total seating capacity of 100 guests. The spacious eatery is the perfect place for hosting sumptuous wine dinners and can be divided in order to provide intimate seating for group events.
Our tasting began with hot, cheesy gougères made with 24-month Comté, pulled fresh from the oven.
The opera of duck foie gras ($188) is a homage to the traditional opera cake with its delicate layers of foie gras marinated in Chinese straw wine, joconde sesame biscuit and red wine jelly, sandwiched between two wafer-thin slices of sourdough. Sansho pepper and Francis Miot’s fig chutney add extra flavour flourishes on the side. The foie gras is buttery and incredibly silky, contrasting well with the mildly acidic wine jelly and aromatic sesame biscuit. The addition of Chinese straw wine gives the foie gras depth and a hint of sweetness.
Dry dessert wine Jean-René Germanier Petite Arvine 2019 from Valais, Switzerland, is suggested as the pairing for this dish. However, on the day of our tasting, we weren’t able to sample any of the pairing suggestions as the restaurant was in the midst of transferring its extensive wine inventory.
The Japanese sea urchin and Black Angus beef sirloin rolls ($238) feature tender slices of 250-day grain-fed Australian beef wrapped around pickled shimeji mushroom and shiso. We enjoyed the slippery yet crunchy texture of the mushroom and the zing of the shiso leaf, and the sweet creaminess of the sea urchin helps to meld all the flavours together.
Domaine des Closiers Saumur Liberé Chardonnay 2020 from Loire Valley, France, is the suggested pairing for this dish.
Hailing from Mont Saint Père Farm in France, a farm founded in 1880, the egg in this 63-degree organic egg ($168) dish travelled a long way to the plate in Hong Kong. This double-egg dish features both chicken egg and triple oak-smoked salmon roe from Yarra Valley in Australia, nestled over a bed of ratte potato purée foam that’s dusted with paprika and cashew. A baton of brioche toast is the perfect accompaniment for dipping.
Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2019 from Marlborough, New Zealand, is the suggested pairing for this dish.
The Morisseau mussels in Asian marinière sauce ($298) feature hand-picked molluscs from Mont-Saint-Michel. The French mussels are medium-sized, succulent and delicately briny, pairing well with the creamy white wine broth infused with the flavours of lemongrass and galangal. Crisp, golden fries made from Monalisa potatoes fried in duck fat are the perfect conduits for soaking up the flavourful broth.
Domaine Bunan Côtes de Provence Bélouvé 2020 from France is the suggested pairing for this dish, due to its saltwater and caramel flavour profile.
A signature on the menu, the Alain Senderens’ Apicius duck magret revisited ($688) pays tribute to the celebrated chef using his recipe based on ancient Roman cooking methods. The late chef, known as the “Picasso of French cooking”, was renowned for using Asian flavours and wine in his dishes. Wine Director Hervé Pennequin once worked with the acclaimed chef at three Michelin-starred Lucas Carton in Paris, and he adds personal memories of the dish and wine pairings to the Bacchus menu.
Domaine de Bila-Haut Banyuls 2018 from Roussillon, France, a sweet port, is the suggested pairing.
The spiced, honey-roasted duck breast was a tad too chewy for our liking, and we wished that the skin had displayed more crispness. Orange zest and cinnamon are infused into the accompanying marinated white turnip, alongside sautéed shimeji mushroom, honey-peach purée and a relish made of date and mint.
The yuzu and lemon tart ($108), topped with French meringue and served alongside calamansi sorbet, is based on a recipe from the 2016 World Pastry Chef awards at Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris. The tart’s light sweetness makes it a delicious palate cleanser of a dessert.
A chocolate lover’s dream, the choux profiterole sandwich with Madagascar vanilla ice cream ($118) is drenched in hot dark chocolate sauce tableside. It’s adorned with caramelised grilled almonds and glazed with chocolate craquelin. A sizeable dessert that we guarantee you won’t want to share.
We like that the slight Asian touches in all the dishes we tried at Bacchus don’t overwhelm the traditional integrity of each dish and, instead, enhance their flavour. The casual presentation of each dish gives Bacchus a more easy-going feel as compared to a stuffy wine restaurant. The restaurant space is beautiful and creates an ambience for convivial wine dinners. We just wish that we could have sampled the various wines meant for each dish; the whole concept of the restaurant revolves around food embellishing specific taste profiles of wine.
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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