After hearing mixed reviews about Tate Dining Room & Bar, we decided that us Sassy girls had to check it out for ourselves – firstly to see if the food exceeded our (rather low!) expectations; secondly, and more importantly, to see if we were still hungry after nine courses, as many who had gone before us were!
Tate’s setting is gorgeous and elegant, designed by Candace Campos (the same amazing designer behind MANA! and Heirloom Eatery). The softly lit white and cream decor makes the space, which seats around only 26 diners, appear much larger than it is.
The set menus come in two forms: a six-course Sensualist Set (priced at $680) or a nine-course Gastronomy Set (for a whopping $980). It is clear to see just how much thought has gone behind each and every dish, as chef Vicky Lau (formerly of Cépage) creates her ‘edible stories’, each with charming evocative names.
Our nine-course menu began with a ‘Potato Ice Cream’. This interesting contrast between a crispy hot potato croquette and smooth cold potato ice cream, broken up by a line of peanut sand, was inspired by Chef Vicky’s idea of a beach on a hot summer’s day. I loved the croquette and the peanut sand but couldn’t quite work out my feelings towards the ice cream; some smoked salmon and caviar were welcome additions, although perhaps the flavours were a little too strong for the mild potato purée.
The ‘Autumn Delight’ that followed was lovely – consisting of chestnut puree, whole chestnuts, smoked eel, a quail’s egg and vegetable crisps, it was a combination of flavours and textures that I would never think to put together, yet somehow they worked to create a wonderfully comforting, beautifully presented and definitely autumnal dish.
The ‘Foie Gras Terrine’ was one of the star dishes of the night – buttery smooth cubes of foie gras paired with grapes, candied walnuts, crumbs of Sauternes jelly and goma sesame sauce, served alongside a perfect brioche. I was in foie gras heaven and definitely took advantage of the fact that Rach isn’t a foie gras fan!
Unfortunately the dish that followed, ‘Forest Essence’, was nowhere near as good. The single scallop was overcooked and rubbery, the mushrooms were dry and tasteless and some black garlic paste was smeared so thinly on the plate that it needn’t have bothered being there at all. Possibly the most exciting thing about this dish was the line of crushed chilli.
A ‘Tomato Consumme’ (was the misspelling intentional?) came beautifully presented in an adorable little teacup. Although the soup itself looked rather boring, I liked the delicate flavours and found it lovely and comforting, with the basil oil and sprig of thyme serving to add a hint of summer.
The cleverly named ‘Hamgoustine’ consisted of ham and – you guessed it – langoustine ravioli, served in a ham broth, topped with parmesan foam and strips of Serrano ham. The ravioli were cooked to perfection, and I loved the contrast of the two distinct fillings; my only complaint is that the broth was a little too salty.
The absolute star of the night was the ‘A4 – Kagoshima Beef Rib’. The medium-rare meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and beautifully flavoured, paired with a miso potato purée and crunchy grilled asparagus – utterly faultless.
A pretty ‘Zen Garden’ appeared next, which sadly was not exactly our idea of bliss; as much as I like green tea as a drink, I’m simply not a fan of green tea desserts, so the matcha green tea mousse just didn’t work for me. Served on top of white chocolate mousse and alongside sesame panna cotta and peanut sand, the whole thing was just too sweet for my taste.
‘Tate’s Mini Dessert Cart’, however, made up for it in both appearance and taste! It was a chocoholic’s dream – a cute mini cart featuring a mini chocolate mousse, a rich chocolate drink, a dark chocolate brownie and last but by no means least and our favourite, a delicious chocolate hazelnut truffle.
The staff at Tate are very welcoming and knowledgeable about each dish and service is swift, but not to the point of feeling rushed. With Chef Vicky’s creativity and passion, it has the right tools to be something really special, but there are still a number of issues that need resolving first.
Now to answer the question you’ve all been waiting for: was I hungry after my nine-course meal? No… but neither was I bursting at the seams, and I’m not sure I’m willing to pay $980 and not feel like I’m going to pop!
Tate Dining Room & Bar G/F, 59 Elgin St, Soho, Central
2555 2172 www.tate.com.hk