French favourites at a cosy café
We’re definitely not short of French restaurants to choose from here in HK, though more often than not, this high quality cuisine can often be matched with even higher prices. Cue Le Café Winebeast! Set in the former location of the Café’s sister outlet, Le Bistro Winebeast, the Café offers up a new and exciting menu of French classics at affordable prices.
Read our full review of Le Bistro Winebeast here.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Wan Chai on McGregor Street, the Café itself is small but perfectly formed. The high stool seating, mirrored walls and their extensive selection of wines decorating the bar creates the perfect balance of space and cosiness. The Café is open fronted, allowing for the bright red stools to spill out onto the street and provide the typically European al fresco dining experience. This all made it wonderfully easy to forget that we were in the midst of one of the busiest areas on Hong Kong Island.
The dinner menu consists of a small selection of meat and cheese platters (an all time favourite of mine!), and an assortment of starters, mains and desserts to be selected as part of a fixed price menu ($348 for three courses and a carafe of wine). Not forgetting the fabulous selection of wines on offer, the experienced sommelier and restaurant manager Cristina informed us of the different flavours and origins of each wine to be paired with our courses.
We began the meal with a beautiful glass of Jean Graviers Champagne, which accompanied the mixed platter of hummus, pork rillettes, nut saucisson and Le Winebeast’s signature beef tartare. The mix of flavours here matched seamlessly with the lightly sparkling champagne, and with pork rillettes being a personal favourite of mine, the rich, meaty pâté certainly did not disappoint. The beef tartare also stood-out, with the subtle seasoning allowing the hand-cut chunks of quality beef to shine.
We were then served a cool glass of Domaine Sylvie Spielmann wine from Alsace to accompany the starter of smoked tuna tartare, orange and ginger vinaigrette, green apple and grapefruit. This dish was delightfully light and refreshing, with the smokiness of the fish complemented by the tartness of vinegar and sweet apple.
We then moved onto the mains, and first to try was the 180G beef tenderloin, potato puree and summer truffles. Again perfectly matched with a glass of J. Claude Rateau 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin, the beef was melt-in-your mouth good. Beautifully presented and cooked to absolute perfection, with the additional decoration of fresh apple slices providing a wonderful crunch to the dish.
Next to try was my favourite savoury dish of the night, the 200G duck confit, pan fried fruits and confit potatoes with a reduced red wine sauce. It was just as heavenly as it sounds, with the confit duck leg perfectly caramelised on the outside and then practically falling off the bone as I went for my first bite. This dish definitely appealed to my sweet tooth, with the pan fried fruits providing the ideal companion to the saltiness and natural richness of the duck. I would go so far as to say that it was the best duck confit I have ever eaten!
For dessert it was the chocolate fondant and the tiramisu with Nutella and speculoos. Previously, tiramisu has always been one of my less preferred desserts mostly because I’ve found it to be a little… dull. However, my mind has been well and truly changed by Le Café Winebeast. This tiramisu was beautifully light and creamy, with just the right hint of coffee flavour and the addition of Nutella being nothing short of a revelation! We certainly had no problems polishing off the generously-sized portion, and by the end of it I was a certified tiramisu convert.
The fondant also stood on its own and is an absolute must for chocolate lovers. Delicious and not too heavy, as they can sometimes be, the first spoonful produced the much-anticipated ooze of the thick molten chocolate sauce. It was also served with a fresh berry coulis, which lifted the dish with the tried and tested match-made-in-heaven of raspberry and dark chocolate.
I can easily say that Le Café Winebeast served one of the best meals I’ve had in Hong Kong. Not only due to the quality ingredients, varied menu and friendly service, the expertly paired wines ensured that we enjoyed each course to the fullest. The fixed price menu is a steal at $348 and I genuinely felt like I had been transported to a wine bar in the South of France for the evening, not an easy feat to achieve in Wan Chai! I’m completely sold and already looking forward to my next visit…
Le Bistro Winebeast, 15 McGregor Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/LeCafeWinebeast