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Old 21st April 2012, 06:00 AM
Travelforum On The Brain
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Melbourne, Oz
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Default Caprice Restaurant: Ambience beyond compare

The Caprice restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong has been the recipient of three Michelin Stars since the reviewers of the “fat man tyre company” started awarding stars to restaurants outside of Europe several years ago.

Caprice restaurant, like everything else at the Four Seasons Hotel, is the epitome of opulence, from the Czech crystal chandeliers, to the heavily starched high grade linen/cotton table cloths, to the crockery and cutlery and the general livery of the restaurant.

We were effusively welcomed by a French waiter at the entrance to the restaurant and personally escorted to our harbour view table, which, upon sage advice, we had reserved some six weeks earlier via a phone call from Australia.

We were offered – and accepted – pink French champagne while the French waiter explained the various offerings and options contained in the menu.

Coming from Australia, where there are no Michelin starred restaurants (but there would be plenty if ever the Michelin reviewers descended on Australia), this was our first dining experience in any Michelin rated restaurant.

After much deliberation we decided that we would both opt for the “Taste Of Caprice” which consisted of eight courses, all of them small by design and intention, but with the oversight of giving the diner an appreciation of the dishes on offer from the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant, as well as highlighting the extraordinary skills of the brigade of chefs.

The first of the eight courses duly arrived which was Ecaille d’Argent Oyster Tartare which turned out to be a suitable starter. The oysters were accompanied by slivers of Granny Smith Apple, Watercress jelly and a marine emulsion. We concluded that this was a very good small dish but one that did not reach the heights of greatness.

After a brief respite the next course was served by our French waiter, which was Perigord Black Truffle Tart, Brittany Artichokes and Aged Parmesan Chiboust.

The black truffle tart was superb, an inspirational creation, delicate, picturesque, flavoursome, with the perfect foils of the slivers of the apple, the jelly derived from watercress and the bite of the parmesan, all of them combining to manufacture the almost perfect dish.

What followed was an additional dish – at no charge – the Duck Consomme. This clear stock came in a small bowl, with the chefs ensuring that it was at just right temperature, not so hot that the tongue would be scolded and not too cool so that the full taste of consommé would not be detected. However, this additional dish was a little disappointing, as the Duck Consomme was too salty, which is never a good thing, particularly coming from a kitchen of the standard of Caprice.

The next dish arrived soon after, which was Duck Foie Gras and Winter Vegetables in Tobacco Nage. This was another example of the skill of the chefs over to our left. As we watched the bright lights of Hong Kong Island dance on Victoria Harbour we slowly devoured the foie gras and winter vegetables. Like one of the earlier courses, it was very good but had some way to climb to the exalted status of greatness.

Next up were steamed Atlantic Scallops, with Sweet Spices and Carrot Emulsion. The scallops were small molluscs but very sweet, with a hint of ginger and covered with a spinach encasement. My dining notes from the night have just one word written after the course – “exquisite”. And so it was and up to that point, it was the highlight of the evening.

To accompany all of the courses during the evening we had chosen a bottle of New Zealand Chardonnay, from the Otago region of that country. It married splendidly with all the courses, it being crisp, middling aromatic, with a hint of peaches and green apples.

The next course was a choice of either Roasted Pigeon, Pannettone Polenta, Pumpkin Puree and Cedrat Jam or Larzac Sucklng Pig, Butter Savoy Cabbage and Black Truffle Tapenade.


We opted for the latter and at that juncture we ordered a glass of Bordeaux Cabinet Sauvignon Merlot which turned out to be an inspired choice, as it harmonised splendidly with the suckling pig, with its inherent white meat sweetness married with the flavours of the cabbage and the black truffle tapenade was just perfect.

One of the waiters then introduced us to the Caprice Cheese Cellar, where after a dissertation on the merits and provenance of each of the cheeses, we ended up with a selection of five splendid French fromage with a few delicate biscuits as accompaniments. The waiter was Chinese and his knowledge of the cheeses was extraordinary to the extent that we could have been having a conversation with a French cheese sommelier in some Michelin starred restaurant in Lyon.

Then it was on to the desserts. Firstly there was a most delectable offering of Burgundy Blackcurrant, Annis Sable and Fennel Ice Cream. The taste of fennel was very evident but not in an overpowering manner. It was an unusual dessert but one that worked really well as an adieu to a most memorable meal. Then secondly, a gratis plate of hand-made chocolates were offered.

They were truly exquisite and an exemplar of the craftsmanship of the chocolatier. With the chocolates came a small cup of espresso coffee that was particularly strong in flavour.

The Taste Of Caprice did not come cheaply with the bill coming in at $HKD5258 for the eight courses of degustation along with the New Zealand Chardonnay and the glasses of French red wine. At the time the conversion rate came to $A649.

In conclusion it can be said that this was the most expensive dinner that my wife and I have ever had. Was it worth it? In reflection – yes! The service throughout the dinner was the best I have ever encountered. I just wish I had had the services of this brilliant team of wait staff during my career as a chef and executive chef. The wait staff were fully professional and an outstanding model of their craft.

Similarly, the skill of the kitchen brigade was exemplified in every dish that was presented during the evening, the one exception being the overly salted Duck Consomme.

Looking back, it is easy to see why bookings are so necessary for this restaurant. The much sought after harbour view tables should be reserved at least four weeks in advance and six weeks if either a Saturday or Sunday is the desired day of dining at Caprice.

I have dined better in Australia and New Zealand at some extraordinary restaurants over recent years, however, Caprice does deserve it three Michelin Stars. Extraordinary skills, ambience beyond compare and service par excellence are the hallmarks of this eatery on the shores of Hong Kong Island.

SCORE: Food, 8/10; Service, 10/10; Ambience, 10/10; Value for money: 7/10. TOTAL: 35/40

VERDICT: Caprice is truly a worthy recipient of three Michelin Stars. It is hideously expensive, but if you have never dined at a 3* Michelin restaurant before and you happen to be in Hong Kong, then I can recommend Caprice for a night out that you will remember forever.
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Old 21st April 2012, 12:15 PM
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E mdee- An excellent and throughly enjoyable read. I hope you are enjoying your break in HK and will have time to post a few more reviews. The bill for this place is a bit out of my price range but I can understand that this was a treat for you and your wife that won't be enjoyed on a regular basis. The menu looked like it was really marvellous- Glad you enjoyed the experience and thanks for sharing it .
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