Causeway Bay has got to be one of the most stressful areas of Hong Kong. It’s always inexplicably busy, even on weekdays, and people seem to go out of their way to walk directly into you from all angles. In order to get me to go to Causeway Bay, there therefore has to be a very valid reason. Having visited ALTO last week, I can say that that this newly opened bar and restaurant makes the stressfulness of Causeway Bay all worthwhile.
High up on the 31st floor of V Point, ALTO boasts stunning views of the city in a contemporary, beautifully designed space. The interior is crafted by Design Research Studio (DRS), the architectural arm of acclaimed product designer Tom Dixon. Featuring Tom Dixon’s signature gold Mini Melt lights – 230 of them in fact – blackened wood, marble tables and colourful felt chairs, against floor to ceiling windows to show off the view, you can’t help but think that a meal here is going to be extortionate.
The menu, however, put together by Executive Chef Mike Boyle, is surprisingly wallet-friendly for the location. I’ve been following Chef Mike since he was at AVA, where he impressed me with his super fancy food, and then at The Awakening, where he impressed me once more with how he made simple, healthy, paleo food taste delicious. I knew, therefore, that ALTO’s food was going to be just as impressive as the setting.
We started our meal with the watermelon salad, a refreshing and delicious combination of chunks of watermelon, chilli-roasted feta, mint leaves, pine nuts and a thyme and raisin vinaigrette.
The foie gras that followed was buttery and rich, just as it should be, paired with pear purée, grilled peach and pink peppercorns to balance it out. Having been super excited about the sound of the almond spiced waffle, however, I was slightly disappointed by this, as I found it quite soggy and an odd flavour.
If in doubt of how to please a table of four girls, give them a pot of melted cheese. The fondue was a cast iron dish full of bubbly melted fontina cheese that was to die for. The top had been grilled to the point of almost burning, giving it a lovely charred flavour that contrasted with the saltiness of the cheese. Scoop it out and smother it on the accompanying grilled ciabatta, or just eat it straight from the spoon.
ALTO’s main focus is its grill. The menu features a range of USDA or Argentinian steak cuts. We went for the 14oz USDA ribeye, which was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and tasted divine. American steak is generally always grain-fed and therefore fattier than Argentinian. The fat, here, melted beautifully into the meat and needed no accompaniment to bring out the flavour, although I did enjoy Chef Mike’s “signature sauce”, with a list of ingredients too long for even the chef to remember, and the cumin-garlic mustard.
The roasted branzino was also a highlight. The fish had been deboned but presented with the head, served on a bed of beurre blanc with fennel, cherry tomatoes and French beans. I was actually taken aback by how much flavour the fish had and we insisted on scraping the plate clean.
Sides of roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts deserve some praise too, particularly the sprouts, mixed with chunks of bacon, cranberry and apple. I might take inspiration from this for our Christmas dinner!
The black truffle pappardelle has been getting a lot of limelight recently, and now I understand why. The rich, creamy truffle sauce with mixed mushrooms and baby asparagus all comes together with perfectly al dente ribbons of fresh pasta to make one hell of a dish.
Although we were stuffed, we couldn’t resist trying three of Chef Mike’s desserts! The crispy bananas with gianduja dipping sauce were pretty fantastic – kind of like a healthier version of churros.
For me, an apple crumble needs to have more crumble than apple. ALTO’s version, like many others, was definitely more generous with the apple than the crumble. Whilst it had a lovely flavour, it was also a bit runny for my liking.
My favourite dessert was hands down the dark chocolate butter cake. This somehow tasted like an Oreo cookie, but yet moist and rich and decadent and simply divine! The little pools of caramel sauce on top and the accompanying bacon ice cream completed it, although I do wish the bacon flavour had come through a bit more strongly.
Above the restaurant, ALTO has an incredible rooftop with breath-taking views of our city. The space is perfect for an after dinner drink or snacks, which I believe will be added to the menu shortly.
Prices are accessible, with most starters under or around $150, and mains from $128 to $398, unless you order the 40oz tomahawk, which will set you back $1288, but it’ll feed a few people! I was very impressed by ALTO and I’ll even brave the crowds of Causeway Bay again just to go back for another fantastic meal.
31/F, V Point
18 Tang Lung Street
Tel: +852 2603 7181