Alchemy, one of Hong Kong’s first dining in the dark restaurants, has a magical (not sorry) surprise: brunch! The restaurant, known for delighting diners with blackout meals, has a fully lit upstairs lounge and bar for those wanting a quick lunch, after work drink, or perhaps an eight course free-flow brunch, as I often do.
Nestled up on the unassuming Arbuthnot Road, this gem is ever so slightly off-the-beaten path (shoutout to escalators for making the trek painless!). The Pinterest-perfect entrance sets the mood as soon as you walk through the door. Think glass jars and striking drawers filled with turn of the century decor inside – a cross between an apothecary shop and an antiquarian study. I loved the small curiosities dotted around the lounge, like the vintage butterfly collections and unique art pieces.
Each week Chef Pascal Breant conjures (still not sorry) up a new eight course menu of fresh, Japanese inspired delicacies, taking all the decision making out of Sunday – or Saturday – afternoon. The meal is Japanese inspired, but it definitely has French flare, like the Homemade Baguette served with imported French butter. Simple, yes, but delicious. And in a place where good bread is so hard to find, it would be a shame to miss this!
Our meal was a sea-food lover’s paradise. Succulent and slightly sweet Octopus Carpaccio was served with a selection of raw shell fish and trio of sushi-inspired bites including the homemade Smoked Salmon and Red Beet – an unusual combination, but the flavours played off against each other well.
Out of all the courses, my personal favourite was the Prawn Ravioli. Served with a sunny side up quail egg and perfectly crisp slice of pancetta, this little dish is worth the trip alone. For those who prefer a bit more meat with their meal, the Char Grilled Black Angus Beef with baby potato and a shallot confit was also delicious. The meat was excellent, tender with a smokey flavour, and it presented a very strong case against vegetarianism. What was truly surprising, however, were the potatoes. I have no idea what was on them, but I have never lusted after tubers more in my entire life. It’s this close attention to each element on the dish that makes Chef Pascal’s dishes so spectacular.
No self respecting French restaurant would end a meal without a magical (last one!) dessert, and Alchemy is no different. They brought out the big chocolatey guns with a dramatic Valrhona Chocolate Delice – a creamy vanilla gelato encased in a hard chocolate shell, served on a rich fudge cake base, and topped with berries and gold flakes. Once served, a waiter slowly drizzles warm chocolate sauce until the shell collapses. A chocolate lover through and through, I think my boyfriend almost cried when it was brought to the table. This treat is the ultimate indulgence, and can be ordered à la carte, if you’re just craving something sweet.
High above the crowds, and far away from the bustle of busier streets, this restaurant has an intimate feel to it, like you’ve discovered a secret. Or maybe an eccentric millionaires study… either way, it’s wonderful. The lounge works well for groups of all sizes; there’s enough space for large parties to spread out and enough privacy for a casual tête-à-tête to become a saucy tryst (some champagne may help that too…).
As I’m sure is evident, we loved everything about Alchemy’s brunch. The secluded location meant we focused on the dishes, instead of random people walking past. It turns out staring at Octopus Carpaccio is far more interesting than staring at pedestrians. The staff could were charming and attentive, but never overbearing. Each course is brought out to you at an appropriate time too, so you never feel rushed or like you’ll be there for all eternity. The Chef’s Brunch Menu changes each week, so there’s always an element of surprise. That being said, with Chef Pascal at the helm the meal is sure to be fantastic.
** Alchemy is currently offering free-flow Mumm Cordon Rouge with their weekend brunches, and dinners on Tuesday-Friday for an additional $350. Obviously, we partook.**
**Starting Thursday, 15 October, 2015, Alchemy will be offering traditional two courses of their famous Pressed Duck, expertly aired with choice wines for a truly French experience!**
Alchemy, G/F-LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong, www.alchemy-concept.com