29 June, 2011
Eat & Drink

Madam Sixty-Ate: Wanchai Whimsy

29 June, 2011

There has been so much buzz about Madam Sixty-Ate’s recent opening that even though I usually like to wait ‘til a restaurant has been up and running at least a month before doing a review, I knew the possibility was if I wasn’t quick I wouldn’t get a reservation! Last Friday night saw my husband and I rocking up to a half-empty Madam Sixty-Ate where the other diners were clearly eager beavers like us. Madam Sixty-Ate has been created by two Ozzie chefs: Chris Woodyard, the former Culinary Director of the W Hotel, whose Sydney Restaurant received the 1 Hat Award and Andrew Braham, former sous-chef to Tom Aiken in London.

Madam Sixty-Ate sits on the podium level of J Residence, the cool apartment complex in Wanchai, and has a spacious balcony for outdoor dining. The restaurant is divided into a bar area with a long communal high-top, and then the restaurant itself ranged around a big open kitchen with white tiled walls. The vibe is quite dark and masculine-feeling, with not many traces of the whimsy I expected (apart from bird-printed wallpaper and some eye-catching artwork), considering that the concept is similar to Salon de Ning, inspired by the life and travels of the eponymous ‘Madam Sixty-Ate’. It seemed though as if they were still working out their lighting situation, as the striking glass lamps hanging from the ceiling were unlit, and the glare of the neon signs of Wanchai were providing most of the illumination.

The menu is fun and creative with a mix of French and British inspiration. Dishes like “Pig in Sheep’s Clothing” and “Josef the Duck” bring a smile to the face of committed carnivores, and the open kitchen adds to the atmosphere of excitement when it comes to anticipating your food’s arrival. We ordered the Scallops with Rillette and Anchovy Puree and the Goats Cheese Mousse with Feve Cream and ribbons of Potatoes to start. We were served bread with “Smoked Butter” while we waited – deliciously salty and tasting of bacon, the bread clearly fresh and home-made.

The Goats Cheese Mousse was the star of the starters: deliciously creamy and delicately flavoured. The scallops were seared and seasoned to perfection, though the rillette was a little course, and didn’t benefit from being served so warm.

For our main courses we chose Wagyu Beef with Beef Cheek, and a Fish Stew “inspired by Madam’s travels” with Chorizo and Tomato. Again there was a hit and a miss – the Wagyu was exceptional, but the Bouillabaisse was a bit disappointing, with the fish being overcooked and the sauce being too watery (the waitress pours the broth over before you tuck in). As a side we ordered truffled potatoes, which came with a generous topping of black truffle and parmesan, and which I only wish we had had the room left to do justice to.

As we couldn’t leave without sampling the dessert menu, we ordered the Honey Semi-freddo with salted caramel and popcorn to finish. The taste of honey was delicious, and I would eat ANYTHING that tasted of salted caramel, though the popcorn was one ingredient too many in my opinion, and jarred a little with the other tastes in the dish.

The meal for two, with two glasses of wine and sharing a dessert came to around HK1,500, so not cheap although for a fun experience and generally great food I would argue it’s reasonable value for money. I’m sure that the couple of inconsistencies we noted in the food will be resolved with a little time, and was charmed by the mix of creativity, the casual yet elegant setting and attentive service. Will this be the next must-go restaurant? The jury’s still out, but we’re looking forward to seeing how this new kid on the Wanchai scene will get on!

Madam Sixty Ate Shop 8, 1/F The Podium, J.Senses, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
2527 2558 www.madamsixtyate.com.hk

Open daily from 12pm to 12am.

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