Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One Year Anniversary - Dinner at Serge et le Phoque

Michael and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past Monday.   Wow, a year goes by quickly!  Our wedding feels both very close and yet very distant.

We went to Serge et le Phoque, a French restaurant located right at the end of the Wanchai wet market, which sounds kind of quirky and crazy, except that once seated inside it makes perfect sense.  They actually designed the restaurant so that the entire interior wall is lined with mirrors, so you feel as though the wet market is enveloping you from both sides.

I booked it figuring it would be intimate on a Monday night. I have been meaning to try this place for a while, and Michael loves French food - so, win win.
I loved the high ceilings and whitewashed walls of the space.  The chairs are all in a warm green, and they have intimate banquette seating.
We each started with a celebratory glass of champagne to toast.  The champagne was nice, although it bothered me slightly that the restaurant didn't have proper champagne glasses.  They served the drinks in wine glasses, which to me just doesn't contain the same convivial joie de vivre  as the narrow flutes or the coupes.  

We opted to go for a la carte, unwilling on our first visit to relinquish our taste buds and judgment to an all-knowing chef in the kitchen.   The food is a sophisticated and graceful fusion: French with an Asian flourish.

We started with a delightful plate of delicate, sweet ham served in such tissue paper thin slices so as to be nearly translucent.  Coupled with the warm, hearty bread and the salted, rich butter, this is a flavor combination that will have your eyes rolling backwards in your head.  We also sampled the mussels, which were whimsically stacked in size order on bamboo sticks, grilled yakitori style, with a light miso sesame glaze.
 We then proceeded to receive the steak tartar topped with sea urchin and a few petals of micro greens.  The steak had a delightful, robust mouth feel, full of flavor and studded with sharp, bold capers.  In contrast to the raw beef, the urchin was silky, smooth and sweet - like a cool, dainty kiss.
 Then we had razor clams, which were topped with a nearly unidentifiable, crumbly white texture - turns out it was cauliflower!
 My favorite dish of the entire next was served up next - in the unassuming, not very exciting... grilled eggplant.  I know.  It was just the bottom quarter of an Italian eggplant (what do they do with the tops?) with a miso paste and sesame coating, paired with parsley and other herbs.  I didn't even bother to take a close up picture.  But then I cut myself a piece, and all thoughts flew out of my head.  Was this truly the humble eggplant?  It was soft but still firm, incredibly fleshy, flavorful and juicy.  Michael and I both stared at each other wide eyed.  He murmured that if he had not seen the dish first, he would have thought he was eating meat.
 We ordered a game hen topped with corn and paired with a tiny piece of fatty eel.  The portion size was pretty woeful, but it was hearty, rich and succulent.  The greens and corn provided pops of sweetness and lightness that contrasted nicely with the meat.
With dessert came chocolate cake dipped in plum salt from Japan and their famous, famous, not-to-be missed dacquoise - an ethereal, supremely airy almond cookie sandwich filled with whipped vanilla cream and nougatine.  Ooooh, I love it when this cookie crumbles.
We ordered a bottle of French wine to go with our meal.  It was medium bodied, not too fruity, but very smooth.  I thought the wines were a bit expensive, and the portion sizes a bit small, but overall the dishes were precise, complex and delicious.  A good place to celebrate our first anniversary!  We will return.

Serge et Le Phoque
Tower 1, the Zenith
3 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
+852 5465 2000

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