15 April, 2011
Eat & Drink

La Marmite: A French Bistro in the Heart of Hong Kong

15 April, 2011

A little slice of Paris has come to Staunton Street. Injecting a little “ooh la la” into Soho life, is the new addition to the Aqua group, La Marmite, serving up classic French Bistrot cuisine. The restaurant is not named after that most beloved (or hated) spread, much to the disappointment of my friends who were wondering how many dishes could be created from Marmite, but in actual fact, means cooking pot in French.

Affordable French cuisine can be quite difficult to come by, but La Marmite strives to offer its customers no frills, hearty and authentic French fare without emptying the wallet.

If you’re wondering about how authentic the food is, despair not, as along with Head Chef Renaud Marin, there is an all French team including Michelin-star Chef Philippe Orrico, Pastry Chef Alexis Watrin , and Maitre’d David Noblet.

I want to first of all sing the praises of David Noblet, who is possibly the most patient Maitre’d ever to work in Hong Kong, due to the demands of yours truly. I asked for a table of 12 for dinner on the Saturday night of the Rugby Sevens, and that number steadily expanded on a daily basis to a whopping 18 people on the day. David was lovely, and very good-natured about it all, rearranging furniture and keeping me posted on how they would be able to accommodate all of us. In the end, he managed, fitting our group on the top floor of the restaurant, so we’d have it all to ourselves! David and the Chef also asked that we decide our budget and create our own 3 course set menu from the à la carte, so they would be better able to serve us. After casting votes, my friends and I settled on the Burgundy snails in parsley butter, Foie gras crème brulée and steak tartare to start, followed by the poached Silver Cod, Rabbit Pie, Rack of Lamb or Oxtail for mains. Our desserts were a selection to share, chosen by the Chef.

Out of all starters, the firm favourite was the steak tartare which was seasoned wonderfully and extremely fresh, down to the cracked egg on top. I had the foie gras crème brulée which was creamy and smooth and served with sour dough toast. There wasn’t nearly enough toast to spread the foie gras on, but that wasn’t a problem as I ended up eating large spoonfuls of it. Don’t judge.

The snails were a hit with the guys; good portion size, well cooked and not overwhelmed by the butter.

There was a bit of food envy going on at the table when the mains showed up. Only a couple of people went for the rack of lamb, which looked (and tasted) amazing and those of us who ordered the rabbit pie, were immediately asked to carve it up and distribute precious wedges of it.

The Silver Cod was presented simply, and though delicate in taste, could have done with slightly more seasoning.  The oxtail was succulent and served shredded with coquillettes or pasta shells. It didn’t have as much of an impact in flavor, as perhaps was expected, but was nevertheless a pleasing dish. The carnivores amongst you, however, might want to opt for the rabbit pie, which had lovely tender chunks of rabbit, foie gras and also some offal. Herby, bold and extremely delicious. More gravy would’ve been perfect.

To finish off, we sampled the tarte tatin, crème caramel and a riz au lait (rice pudding). All three were of a high standard, successfully reflecting the aims of the Aqua group, to have a restaurant with good quality food at decent prices.

If you’re a Francophile, or simply want to sit back and relax over a café au lait or wine, look no further than La Marmite. The atmosphere is distinctly Parisian, helped by unpretentious décor – on the walls hang vintage French posters and an open front, reminiscent of Parisian cafes.

Bon appétit mes amis!

The cost of this meal was approximately $350 per person for 3 courses excluding wine.

la marmite G/F&1/F, 46 Staunton Street, Central
2803 7808 www.aqua.com.hk/

Eating and Reporting by Sassy Food Blogger, Michelle Ng of ChopstixFix. Michelle is a Chinese-Malaysian by way of London, who has loved food since time immemorial. One of her favourite phrases is, “Live to eat, not eat to live”! Food for Michelle is more than just eating. It’s such an integral part of everyday life; the smells, the memories, the sheer joy taken over savoring each morsel, hunting and searching for the “best”.

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