These days, with rents as high as the sky and growing competition at every turn, not many restaurants can say that they’ve been going strong for almost four years. La Cantoche, one of my favourite French restaurants in Sheung Wan, can proudly say that it is now well into its fourth year, and it is just as good as I have always known it to be (see previous review here). The restaurant has just launched a new menu and a couple of new group dinner packages, so David, the owner, invited a group of us to try them out.
La Cantoche is hidden away down a side street off Hollywood Road. It’s a quirky, fun and lively restaurant with a foosball table and an old school Nintendo downstairs, and a spacious dining room upstairs that’s perfect for large groups. There’s none of the pretentiousness that can be sometimes associated with French restaurants – here you’ll feel welcome and comfortable from the moment you arrive until the end of your night.
I have never left La Cantoche hungry. In fact, I find it impossible not to leave La Cantoche uncomfortably full. Every single time I tell myself to pace myself and not overeat, but it’s just so yummy!
We started the evening with a selection of appetisers, some from the first ever menu, others from the new one. The fried calamari and breaded sole fillet from the new menu were tasty and satisfying, particularly when dipped in the heavenly homemade tartare sauce.
I was also very impressed by the foie gras and mushroom terrine, another new item that should definitely stay on the menu forever. It was rich without being overpowering and had a beautifully smooth texture.
The rice krispies lettuce wrap is a La Cantoche classic and for good reason too. The recipe is handed down from David’s mother and I’m sure she would be proud if she were to try it. Another old favourite are the goat’s cheese spring rolls and also the roasted Camembert. There’s something about gooey, melted cheese that just fills me with happiness.
Speaking of gooey melted cheese, La Cantoche has updated its chicken cordon bleu, which now uses Morbier cheese instead of Reblochon. It therefore still has a decent cheesiness, but is no longer so overpowering.
This was served alongside a platter of other meaty delights including beef and lamb Merguez sausages (which have always been a favourite of mine at La Cantoche), some roasted deboned lamb shoulder (a little overcooked and chewy for my liking) and some beautiful sole fillet with sauce vierge.
The sides at La Cantoche deserve their own bit of praise. I just can’t get enough of those crispy and fluffy potato noisettes. A tip for you: order these with the roasted Camembert and dip them in – you won’t regret it. The garlicky, buttery yellow beans were also a standout, which admittedly took everyone by surprise, as you wouldn’t expect soft, anaemic-looking beans to raise eyebrows.
The excitement on David’s face when he brought out the Roasted NZ whole leg of lamb was priceless, and once we tasted it we could understand why. The lamb, although perhaps not as pink as I would have ordered it, was still incredibly tender and just full of flavour, served with mashed potatoes and more of those divine yellow beans.
I think one of my favourite dishes of the night was actually the US Entrecôte, which was cooked to a perfectly juicy medium-rare and came with some insanely delicious balsamic vinegar mustard that really and truly blew my mind.
Just when we couldn’t possibly eat another crumb, out came an enormous Beef Wellington, which was sliced table-side. Personally, I would have left it to rest just a touch longer, in order to keep the juices in, but nonetheless, the beef was melt-in-the-mouth tender and deliciously flavoursome. The mushroom duxelles was quite heavy on the thyme, but not in an unpleasant way at all.
Despite the feast we had just consumed, we didn’t need to be asked twice if we wanted dessert! The blueberry and cardamom tart, which David had apparently prepared for himself but decided to share with us, was lovely and light, with a comforting touch of cardamom to balance out the sweetness.
The M&M and nougat ice cream is another La Cantoche classic that never fails to impress. I think no matter how bad your day may have been, have a bite of this and you’ll instantly be as happy as a child with no cares in the world.
We washed our dessert down with a shot of shaken vodka in a naughty shot glass – I won’t give anything away, but you’ll know what I mean when you have one.
The second best thing about La Cantoche, after the tastiness of it all, are the very reasonable prices. The group menus start at $328 per person for more than enough food, whilst the a la carte menu is also very good value. Year after year, with its delicious French comfort food, La Cantoche continues to please.
G/F, 5 Wa Lane
227 Hollywood Road
Tel: +852 2426 0880