On Saturday, my friend celebrated one of her last nights of freedom before her big day to be held this summer. After a beautiful day out on a catamaran in the South China Sea, her hen party of 18 girls went to Le Marron in Causeway Bay for dinner. This private kitchen, similar to its sister restaurant, Le Blanc, aims to make the diner feel like they are in someone’s very ornately decorated dining room, littered with photo frames, candelabras and all sorts of knick-knacks dotted around on every possible surface area.
The tables (for between 2 and 30 diners) are semi-curtained off with translucent screens, allowing for a bit of privacy if you want it, or they can just as easily be pushed aside to allow drunken men to come in and taunt/tempt the bride-to-be! Or likewise if other parties were outraged by our hen games, they were free to close themselves off too. Each sectioned-off area is slightly different, with mismatching wallpaper and furniture, giving the impression that each party has their very own dining room, different to the next. Mind you, the noise levels remind you that you are indeed sharing the restaurant with A LOT of other people, so be prepared to shout in order to make yourself heard.
Although there is a reasonably priced wine-list, the restaurant offers a BYO service, without a corkage charge, which helps to bring down the cost. This is particularly useful if you’re celebrating with champagne for 18 thirsty girls. The attentive waiters make this experience even more worthwhile by insisting that your glass is never empty (although I think all of us cursed the waiters the following morning!).
A set menu of four courses, with a few choices for each course, awaited us. The overriding theme of the month (the menu changes monthly) seemed to be FUNGUS. There were mushrooms everywhere: wild mushroom quiche, wild mushroom soup, angel-hair pasta with….wild mushrooms and black truffle cream sauce. As I have mentioned previously, I never used to be a fungus person, so this many mushrooms on one menu did frighten me a little bit and I was grateful that we had the choice to opt out. I did decide to try the wild mushroom quiche, however, as it was the starter which jumped out at me the most. So, as (after a surprisingly long time) the other girls received a huuuuge plate of Caesar salad, or a decent portion of foie gras, I was served a sliver of quiche. At the time, I grumbled and probably even muttered under my breath to the waiter “where’s the rest of it?” but, considering I still had three courses to follow, it was probably a jolly good thing it wasn’t any bigger! The quiche was good, very flavoursome, but did leave me wanting more. Apparently the foie gras was the opposite – very good flavour but far too rich and any more would have been torture. I didn’t try the salad, although I did try one of the croutons which I believe I described as “outrageously garlicky.”
Unwilling, like I said, to have an overload of wild mushrooms, I chose the only other soup option – crab bisque – which I wasn’t too bothered about ordering and didn’t allow myself to eat much of as I had a big plate of beef to follow. It was a lot better than I had imagined and I particularly enjoyed the chunks of crabmeat. Don’t risk it if you don’t like crab though, as it is… well, very crabby! Mushroom soup was apparently rather watery but a good level of mushroominess.
A taste of sorbet to clean the palatte was very well received after my crabby crab bisque.
I didn’t really know exactly what I had ordered for main course. I simply went with it as it sounded better than the other options and the waiter recommended it: Grilled Angus short rib mille feuille with perigueux sauce. It was beautifully presented and wafer-thinly sliced, so that, had there not been so many fatty bits, it would have melted in the mouth. Unfortunately, there were quite a few said fatty bits which had to be discarded, leaving me with little edible meat (again probably not a bad thing as I was already becoming replete). Looking around the table, the duck was said to have very good flavour but was very dry and would have benefitted from a little jus. I tried the angel hair pasta and was blown away by the mushroominess: it was insanely powerful and one small mouthful was enough to make me down my glass of Sauvignon Blanc!
There were three desserts to choose from: Baked apple and cinnamon crumble, warm chocolate pudding or crème brulée. I ordered the choc pud but was very disappointed. Not nearly as good as Watermark‘s one, and nowhere near as good as the M&S food porn one, needless to say I took a couple of mouthfuls, pushed it aside and tried the other two desserts. Crème brulée – not amazing and the shell on top did not have that satisfactory crack when knocked with a fork. Apple crumble however, parfait! Tart apple with crisp, delicious crumble. Hands down star of the show. Well done crumble.
All in all a very enjoyable evening. The food can definitely not be described as out of this world, but it was tasty and I don’t think there are many other restaurants in HK where we could seat 18 over-excited girls on one long table and where it would be acceptable to whip out all sorts of phallic-themed accessories. Although at first sight a few of us mentioned to each other that this could be an ideal date restaurant, judging by the noise levels and the fact that, although titled a ‘private kitchen’, it is definitely not so private, it is perhaps only best kept for large groups. There is a minimum spend of $380 per head, but our bill reached $510 each with a couple of additional bottles. For a very fun evening, this wasn’t a bad price at all and I definitely think our hen had a good time as we all stumbled onwards to Wyndham Street carrying our food babies.
12/F Ying Kong Mansion
2-6 Yee Wo Street
Tel: +852 2881 6662
Date visited: Saturday 16th April 2011