In Hong Kong, where apparently French people make up the fastest-growing expat community, you are never too far from a French bistro. Often, however, more emphasis is put on trying to replicate the ambience of a typical French café by adding overly stereotypical décor, that the quality of food is substandard. When I heard about brand new French bistro Libertine opening on Aberdeen Street, I was eager to see how it fared.

Despite the uncomfortable uphill trek in heels (especially if you go the wrong way and start walking down from Hollywood Road only to discover that it is in fact up), Libertine has bagged the perfect spot. It’s far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Soho to be able to enjoy a leisurely meal without being tempted by the lure of nearby bars, but close enough for it not to be a hassle. The space is amazing: high ceilings dotted with old-school wooden fans, tiled flooring, a melange of wood and white bricks; exactly the classic, casual look typical of a Parisian French bistro. I walked in and immediately loved it.

In its short life, Libertine has not had the best start when it comes to food reviews, so naturally I was a little apprehensive. However, whether it is that previous critics have been overly harsh or that Libertine has now learned from its mistakes I am uncertain, but actually I thought the food was delicious.

Warm fig and goat’s cheese salad

We started by sharing two starters, the first of which was a Warm fig and goat’s cheese salad. I love cheese… but I adore goat’s cheese, and this one was just perfect: warm, creamy and slightly gooey. Paired with sharp, juicy cherry tomatoes and delicious figs, sitting on a bed of lightly dressed leaves, this was my kind of salad.

Pate de campagne and Pork rillettes

The Pate de campagne and Pork rillettes may have been even better, the baked pate de campagne chunky, rustic and comforting, whilst the braised rillettes was deliciously smooth and dangerously moreish. A note on the starters is that they aren’t small…but when they’re this good, who cares?!

Moules Mariniere

Libertine prides itself on its moules; and quite rightly too for the Boston blue mussels are enormous and delicious, soaked in a fragrant white wine mariniere that doubles up as a tasty dip for the perfect frites.

Herb-crusted lamb cutlets

The Herb crusted lamb cutlets with rosemary and tomate farcies were ever so slightly over-cooked and didn’t have the pink centre I was hoping for, but they were still beautifully tender and the herb crust gave an added incredible flavour to the already delicious New Zealand lamb. The tomato stuffed with soft chunks of aubergine was just a bonus.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant is one of my favourite desserts. Put a gorgeous chocolate pudding oozing with molten chocolate in front of me and you’ve won my heart. On this occasion, however, I was a mere five days away from completing my no-chocolate Lent challenge, so I had to resist. Nevertheless, when it came down to the break-test when fork was inserted into pudding, there was nothing oozing out of this fondant, so I wasn’t too upset to be unable to eat it. Apparently despite the lack of ooze, it still had a delicious flavour…but a chocolate fondant is all about the ooze!

Cheesecake

The cheesecake, however, was wonderful, made the more so by a sweet, almondy base, giving it something a little different to the norm. My one suggestion is that it could have perhaps been a touch colder.

Libertine undoubtedly still has a couple of kinks to iron out, but I still think it’s a great spot, perfect for a leisurely meal whilst enjoying the chilled out music and some almost perfect food. It’s also got a pretty amazing happy hour from 5pm to 8pm every evening; take a seat in the relatively quiet alfresco seating area, order a carafe of wine and help yourself to a plate of complimentary charcuterie. Who doesn’t love free meat?! (Apart from strange vegetarians of course.)

Libertine

26 Aberdeen Street
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: +852 2858 2022

11 Responses to “Libertine”

  1. Rob

    Agree, the food was good. But the service was the worst I have experienced in HK. Waiters were slow, abrupt, unapologetic and just rude

    Reply
    • thedimsumdiaries

      They must have learnt from previous mistakes by the time I went in that case as the service was fine. There were significant pauses between courses but this added to the leisurely feel typical of a meal at any French bistro, and the waiters were consistent in checking that we were enjoying our meal.

      Reply
  2. Jxyy

    They served up off mussels! And the service was beyond amateurish. Not a great experience.

    Reply
    • thedimsumdiaries

      I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. When did you go? The mussels I ate were delicious but understand how horrible it can be when they taste off. Watch out for my next review as I had the exact same experience elsewhere!

      Reply
      • jxyy

        Sorry to hear you had a similar experience elsewhere! To be fair to the restaurant manager, he immediately recognized the problem and dealt with it. Its a pity that the kitchen allowed the dish to be served in the first place. Coupled with the really terrible service, I think it will be a long while before I would be heading back there, although I have to say the other dishes were not at all bad.

        Reply
  3. Emi

    You must have got the right chef cooking for you when you reviewed . We were there on apr 22 after reading your review, thought it was worth the try.
    Verdict: bitter oysters, soggy salad , soggy fries, mussels uncooked ? half plate was closed?? And service : weird!!! Manager tried to hug me because we were not coming back???
    Despite the bad food, we were charged full price! This place is a shame to French and it’s bistro pride! And it’s health hazard by serving uncooked food or bad oysters!

    Ps: there’s no soap in the bathroom- how do we know it’s hygienic control ?

    Please review this place again!

    Reply
    • thedimsumdiaries

      Thanks for your comment, Emi. I’m really sorry to hear you had such an awful experience. The owner and the manager both admitted that they still had some flaws and clearly they are taking a while to sort these out. Give it some time and hopefully it will get better as it is a great spot and honestly the food that I tried was really tasty – I am always as honest as possible in my reviews so I would tell you if it wasn’t! I will go back and see how it’s doing soon, but with so many places on my list, it’s hard to say when that will be! Please keep reading and hopefully I can inspire you to try other places – and hopefully they will prove to be a better experience for you!

      Reply
      • matthewssuck

        no way this place is closed to any french stuff!!! its an insult for all french people!! first its a exact copy of PASTIS NEW YORK!! the owner should be prosecuted for not having any imagination and concept!!! food is weird as they pretend to do everything and nothing, bad service, a real pale copy … should be ashamed!!!

        Reply
        • thedimsumdiaries

          Hi there, thanks for your comment and I’m very sorry you feel so strongly about it. I think they have all the right ideas in place, they just need a little more training to be able to execute these ideas. Hopefully in time it will get better.

          Reply
  4. Philip

    I really want to like Libertine but they make it so difficult to do so. I tend not to eat there now as I have had one or two disappointments food wise and just order a coffee.. On one occasion I had the vegetarian breakfast and found that the hummous underneath the eggs had turned the toast into one big horrible mush. I told the female manager (?) and she just shrugged her shoulders and took the plate away and then brought the bill! At the very least a couple of slices of toast to make up for the mush would have been nice. The staff are so surly and unfriendly. The same female manager just sits at a table with a claculator and piles of paper. No attempt whatsoever at creating a nice vibe. The only excpetion is Sam the waiter who is a really nice friendly guy who tries really hard to make sure you are happy and quite honestly should look for a job in a restaurant where they value good service..

    Reply

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