Four Seasons Hotel
8 Finance Street, Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 3196-8860
Cuisine: French Gastronomy
Nearest tube: Central
For our second day in Hong Kong, I had arranged to have a nice relaxing lunch at Caprice – a short 5 minute walk from our hotel. I had originally planned to dine at Caprice during our trip to Hong Kong back in April of this year but for reasons I can only put down to temporary insanity, I decided to cancel at the last minute and dine at the disastrous Petrus instead. This would be my second visit here. My first visit was back when they held 3 stars – they briefly held 3 stars for 2 years but was subsequently demoted back to 2 stars. Based on my initial meal there, I felt that decision was correct as although the cooking was of a very high standard, it was not a memorable meal. The current head chef is Fabrice Vulin, no doubt brought in to regain the third star.
Located on the 6th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, the restaurant offers beautiful views of the Kowloon peninsula. Window seats are allocated based on a first come first served basis so make sure you book early. The dining room is elegantly decorated with crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling while the showcase of the restaurant is the open kitchen on an elevated platform working in synchronous harmony.
The menu here is unashamedly French with classics given a modern face-lift without deconstructing it into oblivion as is commonly found with many restaurants today. As we visited for lunch, there is a cheaper set lunch menu as well as an a la carte menu and the obligatory tasting menu. Items on the a la carte menu are individually priced with some starters as expensive as main courses.We tried dishes from the set lunch and a la carte menu.
No expense is spared with the produce used here. The butter comes from Bordier and they have a whole cheese cellar to house a huge selection of cheeses from Bernard Anthony. There are also rumours that chef Vulin also serves some ultra-aged (think 15 years old) beef by Alexandre Polmard.
I started of with pheasant quenelles and soup which was hilariously translated as pheasant sausage. The
sausages quenelles were light and airy but it together with the soup, suffered from a lack of seasoning. The flavours were pleasant but muted. The accompanying it however had good depth of flavour. My fiancee had a better deal with a seasonal mushroom pie which had beautifully made puff pastry and tasty wild mushroom filling.
If I was disappointed with my starter, my meal go back on track with their version of Hare a la Royale. The main dish featured a beautiful rare roasted loin with a pool of intense, shiny, ‘chocolate’* sauce made from the hare’s blood. On the side were the slow cooked hare leg compote cooked using the traditional Senator Couteaux recipe. A little celeriac parmentier is added to help balance the richness of the dish. This was certainly one of the best versions of hare a la royale I have eaten and it reminds me of the version by Lesquer when he was cooking at Ledoyen.
* The reference to the chocolate sauce came from a visit to Taillevent in Paris. I had their version of Hare a la Royale there and the maître d’ jokingly called it chocolate sauce and the term stuck.
Before desserts we indulged in a bit of cheese. If you love cheese, then this is the restaurant with hands down THE best cheese board. In the world. As mentioned earlier, they have a purpose built room to age the cheese to ensure that every single piece is served in perfect condition. They are also one of the few restaurants that serve Anthony’s four year old Comte. On my previous visit, we had a proper cheese tasting with wine pairing with each individual cheese! This time around, we just asked for a selection of cheese knowing full well that everything served would be in tip-top condition.
To finish, I tried a reconstructed raspberry. A cone of raspberry mousse is covered little jelly spheres to resemble a giant raspberry. On the side were slices of fresh raspberry with raspberry coulis. This was a visually spectacular dessert which was light but still had plenty of raspberry flavour.
This was certainly an extremely enjoyable meal at Caprice with a beautiful view and classic French dishes given a contemporary twist. Service was some of the best we encountered in Hong Kong. There were definitely some dishes which could easily have come out of any 3 star kitchen in Paris (the hare ala royale comes to mind) but just like my last visit, the other dishes which I tried were very ordinary. Admittedly, we did not try any of chef Vulin’s signature dishes but for a restaurant aspiring for 3 stars, each dish should be as good as the next. For me, the cooking here sits in that frustrating area of very good 2 star, but just not quite 3 stars.