Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Press Room: Springalicous Tasting Number Two

I was invited to another press tasting for the Springalicious event today, this time at The Press Room. I've wanted to check this place out for a while. In a way it is in the same vein as Liberty Exchange but a little bit more high end (they have a raw bar)and definitely more expensive.

Most of the tastings I've been invited to consisted of a few courses with pretty small portions. This, for some reason, was not like that at all. The portions were huge (well, if not huge certainly normal) and whereas typical springalicious diners would be able to chose, say, between the fish and the steak, we were served both,and the optional oysters (which would be extra for a normal diner) and a cheese course with desert. Anyway, I'm exhausted.

It started like this. Classic French Onion Soup Gratinée with shallots, red wine, brandy, emmental & Parmesan. This one definitely did not have the same cheese problem as the Liberty Exchange version but unfortunately it did have the same seasoning issue. It was woefully under-seasoned. Well, I did finish the whole thing within a few minutes anyway...

Ah the oyster course: Freshly shucked international trio of oysters, wild salmon & Atlantic cod ceviche with lime, chili, cilantro, garlic and horseradish. I love oysters. As far as I can tell the chilli, cialntro, garlic and horseradish from the menu were all in the cocktail sauce which tasted deceptively like the store-bought stuff (not complaining, love that stuff)and the citrus on my plate was lemon not lime, but who cares. As for the oysters themselves? The first was nothing. Really almost no taste, not briny, not sweet. The second was super-briny. Too briny. Floating in brine. And the third? Well the third (pictured) was delicious: meaty, sweet, slightly briny. Scrumptious. The ceviche was fine. I love ceviche and I really enjoyed it but it didn't pop off. Sometimes ceviche can seem almost shockingly refreshing and this didn't. Still good though. I would definitely order it again.

Next up, the Boston lobster risotto with star anise, Parmesan and french butter. Nope. This was the worst dish of the meal. Way too over-spiced. It just tasted strong. Too much salt, too much pepper and none of that smooth, rich bisqueiness that I love in lobster risotto. I only had a spoonful of this. The lobster meat was good though...

Now came the two main course options at once...

Yeah! Now we're talking! Chilean Sea Bass with black truffle butter, tagliatelle and peas. This dish was great. It made me happy. The fish was perfectly cooked. The pasta was al dente and spot on. You could smell the truffles before they got the dish to the table but still they didn't over-power anything. Very nice, simple and well executed.

And then...

Prime steak frites featuring a grilled, dry-aged, US prime sirloin with BĂ©arnaise sauce. Another home run! The best steak I've had in Hong Kong. Delicious meat. Perfectly cooked.

See! Great flavor, great char, great blood, yummy fat. Oh and the fries were awesome. I'm starting to get very very excited about the quality of french fries in Hong Kong. Who Knew? Oh, and let's not forget what is perhaps the greatest part of this dish the Bearnaise sauce. Just perfect Bearnaise. I want Bearnaise shampoo. I finished my little pitcher of then started dipping my fries in my neighbor's, then his neighbor's. Let's just say it was a scene.

Next up, the cheese course. Eh... I do love Stilton but skip that onion mess. The menu said the cheeses were supposed to come with quince paste which would have been much nicer. The bread was good.

Desert time! Calvados Parfait served with apple & cinnamon fritters. Another great effort. The fritters were basically fried slices of apple, nicely puffed up and dusted in cinnamon and sugar. They looked like little donuts and tasted like baked apples, very yummy. The parfait was a light moose on top of a cake base. The moose was somewhere between whipped cream and marscapone cheese and subtly flavored with Calvados (I love Calvados, send me a bottle). It went perfectly with the apples. A surprisingly light and lovely end to the meal.

You know, admittedly this meal was spotty in places (I'm looking at you risotto) but at opther times it was really delicous and in the end it left me feeling satisfied and in a good mood. Not perfect for sure but I am considering canceling my Bo Innovation reservation and taking my girlfriend here for Springalicious instead.

Disclaimer: I got this meal for free. Like a baller.

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