Being an obsessive foodie, part of the draw to Hong Kong is its never-ending array of restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. Generally speaking, about 50% of these restaurants get everything just right, whilst the remaining 50% try too hard and end up being comically stereotypical with substandard food. Thankfully the newly opened Brasserie de L’ile on Arbuthnot Road fits into the former category.
Classing itself as Hong Kong’s first authentic Northern French brasserie, Brasserie de L’ile specialises in the region’s tastiest comfort food without being too pretentious or overly priced. Its classic décor with dark wood and red is evocative of a casual French brasserie, and even has an open front with outdoor seating to enjoy a lazy long lunch whilst watching the world go by.
Their speciality is mussels; served in various different styles from the classic moules marinière to Thai green curry, ranging from a 400g portion to a whopping 800g portion with all you can eat French fries! – if that’s not an incentive to order the moules then I don’t know what is. Sadly on the day we went to try Brasserie de L’ile however, they were completely out of mussels.
The set menu, with a three-course meal starting from $98, offers some tasty treats which soon quelled our unhappiness for the lack of mussels.
We both started with poached egg with ratatouille; served in a cute little ceramic pot, this dish looked most appealing when the lid was still on. Admittedly, at first sight of the contents, I expected to be disappointed by the taste. However, the egg was perfectly cooked, breaking at the slight touch of a fork and blending with the delicious flavours of the ratatouille to create a comforting dish, perfect for this cooler weather that has landed upon us.
To follow, the chicken escalope (usually served with mashed potato) was tender and flavoursome, gently dusted with breadcrumbs meaning it was nice and light – a refreshing change from so many French restaurants which love to ladle on the fat.
Even better, was the Quiche Lorraine served with a side salad. It tasted as though it had been baked especially for me that very morning; the centre so light and fluffy and the crust beautifully crumbly. Possibly one of the better quiches I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
As our desserts of bread pudding approached our table, I stared in horror and asked my friend if this was a joke. “Where’s the rest of it?” I muttered, as it was certainly the smallest dessert I ever did see. Considering that it was a Thursday lunchtime and I had a half-marathon looming that weekend, I probably didn’t need more than this tiny delicious morsel of bread pudding, however, and thus savoured every bite (of which there were probably only two) and every last drop of the sticky sweet sauce.
Service was very efficient and friendly, and the waiter actually showed genuine remorse that there were no mussels left. I have heard raving reviews about these mussels along with the fries and Steak Tartare, so feel another trip is certainly on the cards. Very soon.
Brasserie de L’ile
4 Arbuthnot Road
Tel: +852 2147 2389