Typically at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon, I’m sitting in front of my PC at my desk in Quarry Bay chomping my way through a pretty uninspiring box of salad. If I’m feeling particularly indulgent, maybe I’m nibbling on a sandwich and if it’s an incredibly naughty day, perhaps I’ll even follow that up with a cupcake… Either way, weekday lunches tend to mean lunch al-desko. Stacks of work, and a lack of anywhere in Island East that I really want to spend an hour of my day, mean that salads and spreadsheets generally go hand in hand when midday strikes.
That being said, my regular lunchtime routine was in for a change the day that I discovered Plat du Jour, a spot in Quarry Bay where you can eat the best chocolate mousse in Hong Kong with Brigitte Bardot.
Well, she doesn’t actually eat any of the chocolate mousse, in fact she just sort of stares at you while you eat it, but trust me when I say that this is the sort of chocolate mousse that you don’t want to share with anyone anyway (not even a French film star)…
From the second I glimpsed the duck egg blue exterior complete with black and white striped awning, I had high hopes that this brand new French restaurant would bring a little ooh la la to my lunch hour. Luckily, it has – Plat du Jour is a little piece of Paris on Hoi Wan Street. The interior is bistro-chic with squashy ruby red leather banquettes and marble-topped tables lit by low-hanging spherical glass lamps. Specials are chalked up on blackboards lining the dark wood paneled walls and Brigitte gazes insouciantly out at you from the back most corner while you deliberate over the delicious French fare on offer (she’s a mural obviously – come on you didn’t actually think she hangs out in Quarry Bay these days did you?!).
On a bone-chillingly bitter day I wandered in around 12.30pm and bagged a plum table in one of the booths – the ideal perch for a bit of people watching. The menu runs from all your comforting French classics to more waif-friendly options like goat’s cheese salad and poached Icelandic Halibut. In celebration of it being Wednesday (over the hump and all downhill to the weekend…) we opted for the three course set lunch (a bargain at $225) and began ordering up a storm.
We started with the steak tartare and the Escargot Bourguignon. The tartare was very good indeed, spiked with capers and Dijon mustard, piled atop slices of bread. The escargots though, were standout.
Served in their shells, slathered in herby garlic butter and dusted with crispy breadcrumbs – we greedily ate forkfuls of snails before mopping up the excess butter with hunks of French bread.
For our main course, we opted for the Beef Bourguignon and the Confit Duck Leg. The Beef Bourguignon came with a little pot of creamy potato puree – the perfect accompaniment to the rich, hearty, red-wine laced beef casserole and everything you could wish for a chilly, winter day.
The Confit Duck was meltingly tender and served on a bed of surprisingly scrummy lentils and sautéed brussel sprouts.
Sprouts by the way are our new hot tip for the next gastro-obsession – cooked properly, they really are lip-smackingly great!
Then it was time for dessert and my introduction to what is sure to become my Achilles’ heel – that heavenly chocolate mousse. Knowing that my hit of velvety, fluffy chocolate amazingness is just a lift-ride and a few metres from my laptop is sure to result in bikini body sabotage…
The rest of the desserts on offer are just as lovehandle-licious too – think tarte tatin, crème brulee and ile flottante (little clouds of poached meringue in a sea of silky crème anglais, in case you haven’t come across this French wonder before…). We strung out our last few minutes away from the office with a post-lunch coffee – the perfect end to our French feast.
Getting up to leave feeling full and happy, I pondered how much more substantial my weekday joie de vivre might be if I abandoned the desk dining completely and headed to Plat du Jour everyday instead. On looking up and meeting Brigitte’s doe-eyed gaze, I came crashing back to the realization that such a midday habit would only result in me becoming steadily less Bardot; increasingly more Obelix… For that chocolate mousse though? Well, it may just be worth it…
Plat du Jour 17 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
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