This article originally appeared in the October 2015 Issue: Craving Comfort. Read it here!
We are always looking for a great place to meet our friends, have a few snacks, catch up over a great bottle of wine, while keeping it easy on our wallets and we’ve found just the spot. Comptoir, which in French means, “central bar”, is one of the newest additions to a buzzing Kennedy Town bar and restaurant scene. This new concept, brought to you by the people at French Creations (responsible for spots like F.A.B and Pastis), focuses around the owners’ love of fine French wine and Chef Jerome Abraham’s French twist on traditional Spanish tapas.
The place: Just a five-minute walk from the Kennedy Town MTR station, Comptoir has a fresh, modern feel, highlighted by clean white subway tiles and marble countertops. What’s special about this location is their wine cellar and private room upstairs. With a beautiful custom-built barrel table and seating for eight, the wine cellar is the perfect hideaway from the bustle of Hong Kong, with over 130 bottles of wine from around the world at your fingertips.
The food and the wine: We launched into our evening with a crisp, fruity rosé, the 2014 Domaine la Rouillère ($65), paired deliciously with our appetisers: cheese croquettes, tuna tartare and the artichoke and bacon “barigoule.” The tuna tartare ($95) was fresh, bright, and well-seasoned with a soy sauce and coriander dressing. The cheese croquettes ($40) were lightly fried for a crunchy panko-covered outside, and a gooey, warm, cheesy middle. However, it was the imported French artichokes ($48), accompanied with a fragrant herb pesto, lightly touched with bacon, that was our favorite appetiser. For those of you who are not specifically gifted with food and wine pairing abilities (like many of us), Comptoir offers wine pairing recommendations for each dish on the menu and takes the guesswork out of this sometimes difficult task.
As we concluded the first course, we decided to move to a glass of white wine, and were recommended to try the 2013 Cuvée des Conti, a blend of 70% semillon, 20% sauvignon blanc, and 10% muscat. Although this white was a bit sweeter than we had hoped (because of the addition of muscat), it paired very well with our next two dishes. We started the next course with the scrumptious Ravioli de Rogans ($68), which was a huge winner. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love these mini raviolis stuffed with comte cheese and then covered in a peppery, cheesy, creamy tarragon sauce.
From a presentation standpoint, nothing beat the next dish, a pan-seared scallop ($88), topped with a seafood and mushroom bechamel sauce, baked on its shell, with a crispy panko topping. What was particularly special about this dish was the use of espelette pepper, which provided a spark of heat not usually seen in a traditional bechamel.
After taking a breather, we continued our meal with a delightful 2012 Pinot noir from Maison Chanzy in Burgundy ($90) and our last dish, the Mangalica pork, served on a bed of garlic spinach and piquillo. We couldn’t have been any happier with the way our meal ended; the pork was perfectly done, and presented beautifully on a granite stone, accompanied with whole-grain mustard. It was a treat to hear Chef Jerome share his passion and details about how special the Mangalica breed of pig is. There was a huge range of different dessert options to choose from and we were even offered an off-menu item: deep-fried mint-chocolate ravioli with a mango and passionfruit coulis.
In the end: Doubling as a wine shop / importer (if you buy wine to take home, they give you $100 off), Comptoir was a culinary surprise that we enjoyed from start to finish. We think their concept of bringing tapas-style plates, delicious, affordable wine, and a comfortable space where friends can get together for an evening rendezvous is a winning combination. Welcome to the neighborhood, Comptoir. We’re glad you’re here.
42 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town