The background: Since its opening last year, Paradis has quickly made a name for itself as one of Wyndham Street’s hottest bars. From 10pm onwards (it’s open till 3am on weekends), the place is packed with punters knocking back mixologist Aleaxandre Chatté’s innovative cocktails and grooving to the tunes of international DJs. Unfortunately, this means the restaurant side has suffered – but that’s all changed now that Chef Wes Long is on board. A North Carolina native, Chef Long formerly headed up the kitchen at NYC’s popular Hudson Clearwater, serving rustic New American cuisine in a hidden garden setting.
The new menu: Chef Long’s menu has been pared back to a half dozen or so each of starters, mains and desserts – short but sweet, just how we like it. The dishes are French inspired with subtle Caribbean influences. A good example of this was the appetiser of beef tartare ($158), which was accompanied by crostini flavoured with annatto seed, commonly used in rice dishes and stews in the Caribbean. Though not inspired by the Caribbean, we thought that the truffle ketchup served with the side of hand-cut fries was a revelation (step aside, truffle mayo!). The red oak salad ($118), dotted with pine nuts and chunks of Gorgonzola, was given a tropical profile from its punchy mango vinaigrette and the addition of dehydrated pineapple, which intensified the flavour.
Red oak salad
Our favourite main courses seemed neither classically French nor Caribbean but rather, taking into account Chef Long’s past experience, more New American in style. Not just a pretty face, the grilled whole lobster ($368) was delectable, with the natural sweetness of the shellfish complemented by the summery flavours of grilled corn and spring onion and mango cream. Another beauty, this time much more robust, was the duck breast ($218), which was tender and well seasoned with a lovely crisp top. It sat atop a bed of crushed potatoes cooked in the fat from the duck (duck-fat tatties, have we told you how much we love you?). Considering the quality of Chef Long’s cooking and the portion sizes, we found the pricing reasonable.
Grilled whole lobster
We couldn’t detect any Caribbean influences in the desserts, but they were still delicious. The pastry trio ($118) – bite-sized portions of chocolate cheese tart, basil semifreddo and lemon lavender cream puff – is a great way to end a meal when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to overdo it, while the warm chocolate hazelnut ganache ($118), kicked up even further with a generous scoop of boozy spiced brandy ice cream, is pure indulgence. Our only disappointment of the meal came with the peach parfait ($108). The inclusion of basil, goat cheese sorbet and muesli just didn’t jive with us; overwhelmingly savoury, the dish tasted more like breakfast than dessert.
Chocolate hazelnut ganache
Final thought: Thanks to Chef Long's new menu,we hope Paradis manages to become a dining destination while remaining one of HK’s favourite par-tay places.
3/F, Winning Centre, 46–48 Wyndham Street, Central, 3182 0105