Having made it my mission to check out every single one of The Pemberton’s many restaurants, I confess that I am not doing too well. However, I am one step closer after trying mini dans la ville last week.
mini dans la ville is a rather random spot set up by someone who is clearly far too obsessed with Mini Coopers. The first thing you see as you come in is a real life old-school Mini posing for photos. Once in the restaurant, the walls are dotted with photos and sketches of…you guessed it – Minis! Although a very strange concept, I kind of like it; the design is very fresh and clean, making good use of the space. There’s a glass-fronted bar/deli where you can order a smoothie or a coffee and delicious-looking pastries to go, and then there’s a fairly comprehensive menu offering choices from pastas to burgers to mussels and oysters.
Since we were there at lunch, we went for the set lunch. Ranging from $78 to $158 depending on the main course, the set includes a soup of the day, a main and a drink (with an additional cost for smoothies or juices).
The minestrone soup, served in an adorable little bowl, was just the right size and tasted divine. Possibly because mini seems to focus all its energies on the design of the restaurant, I had anticipated very sub-standard food, and in particular expected the soup to taste as if it were out of a tin. However, it was fresh, chunky and well seasoned. My only complaint is that the spaghetti was far too soft.
The Spring chicken, normally served with mashed potato, was wonderfully tender and far from dry. The thick gravy could well have been made from a Bisto equivalent powder, but it added to the lightly seasoned flavour of the chicken. Although the waitresses were very accommodating in swapping the mash for veggies, this was just about the only bit of good service we received; the rest of the time they seemed to be on another planet.
I opted for a cheeseburger, as it’s important to know how well a restaurant can execute a burger. The first thing I noticed was how enormous the sesame-topped bun was, making my stomach tremble just at the thought of eating it. As my stomach doesn’t take too well to bread, I rarely eat burger buns anyway so this wasn’t a big deal. The part of the bun I did try was wonderfully fluffy, perfect for any normal stomach. As far as the beef patty was concerned, if you like your beef practically still mooing, as I do, then you’d enjoy this burger. It was deliciously soft and smooth, made the more so by the gooey melted cheese. It did lack a little seasoning, but nothing that a sprinkling of salt and pepper couldn’t fix. Though a little pale in colour, the chips were delicious – crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and not too oily.
For an extra $15, you can choose a slice of either New York cheesecake or chocolate cheesecake. Our choice of the New York version was, quite honestly, pretty awful. I’m not sure when it was made, but it didn’t taste fresh at all and had developed a rather off-putting hard crust to it. I normally hate food wastage, especially when it comes to dessert, but this was one dessert I just could not eat.
In summary, mini dans la ville is an interesting new spot that serves mostly decent food at reasonable prices, although the service leaves a lot to be desired. Steer clear of the desserts, but definitely try their fresh juices and smoothies; I had the ‘Fighter’ juice consisting of a delicious blend of apple, lemon, ginger and mango. Will it last? Who knows, but it’s a quirky little place that’s already attracting quite a following, and I think I can safely say there is no other place like it in Hong Kong.
mini dans la ville
UG/F, The Pemberton
22-26 Bonham Strand
Tel: +852 2868 2002