Nestled high up on the 49th floor of trendy hotel The Upper House, with stunning views of the city (at least on a clear night), you might think that Café Gray Deluxe would be snobbish and pretentious, and yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. The moment you enter the lobby of the hotel, as well as upon entering the restaurant itself, you’ll be greeted in a way that makes you feel like you’ve returned home, even if you’ve never been there before.
The elegant chic décor, with neutral shades of beiges and browns, marbles and woods, reminds us that fine dining need not be served in a stuffy environment. The gorgeous bar area, where you can either sit at the 14-metre long bar or in one of the semi-private alcoves, is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink, whether you’re dining at the restaurant or not, particularly if there’s someone you’re trying to impress.
Since there was no chance of enjoying the city views on the hazy night we visited, we took our seats at the bar to watch our cocktails being shaken. The Deluxe Lemongrass was not only beautifully presented but was a refreshingly delicious drink with which to start a lovely evening.
The menu is put together by Chef Gray Kunz (hence the name of the restaurant), who compiles his experience working at top restaurants in Europe, Asia and America to create a seasonal menu of modern European classics, with a focus on using local, organic produce.
To keep things simple, we each opted for the 4-course Spring Market Menu, making sure to both choose different dishes so we could taste them all! The first of these was a beautifully presented Vitello Tonnato, topped with shaved radish, diced tomatoes and capers. This was lovely and light, though a little on the dry side.
We were blown away by the sautéed prawns and scallops with a rice flour crêpe. Combined with fresh hints of lemongrass, coconut and calamansi, again this was light, fragrant and evoked flavours of Vietnamese cuisine that left us speechless.
The first of the second courses was a delicious grilled snapper with green olive vinaigrette, lemon olive oil, thyme and rosemary. This was a very simple dish, yet it was utterly faultless, the fish perfectly cooked and only lightly dressed so as not to mask the flavour of the fish itself.
The ravioli of leeks, porcini and truffles in a mushroom and winter melon bouillon, was also lovely. You’d definitely need to be a fan of mushrooms to enjoy this dish, as the flavour was a little more intense, but in a comforting, as opposed to overwhelming, way.
Moving on to the third course, the maple syrup-glazed Ibérico pork loin, topped with grated horseradish and served on a bed of green lentil stew, was an interesting combination that truly worked. The pork loin, with the hint of sweetness from the maple syrup, was almost like eating chunks of bacon, which paired beautifully with the pungent horseradish and the earthy flavour and slightly al dente texture of the lentils.
For me, however, the absolute standout dish of the night was the duck cassoulet, served with Toulouse sausages, flageolet beans and parsley breadcrumbs. Without the duck, this traditional French dish is the perfect winter warmer; with the addition of the rich, fork-tender duck, it was absolutely incredible.
Although the chocolate rum toast sounded delicious, our sugar-free Lent meant that all we could have for dessert was a boring fruit platter. We even, regrettably, had to turn down the chunks of delicious chocolates they give you at the end, which are usually one of the best things about dining at Café Gray. Thankfully, the kitchen put together a nice selection, to make our fruit platter a little less boring, but somehow it was this dish that seemed to take the longest to prepare.
The Market Menu is priced at $725 per person for four courses, not including drinks, which, although expensive, is definitely worth it. What I like about eating at Café Gray, is that you can still enjoy a fine dining experience, without any unnecessary fluff; it is simple, everyday food that is elevated to perfection.
Café Gray Deluxe
49/F, The Upper House
Tel: +852 3968 1106