Time Out says
A restaurant made for wine lovers, but foodies flock to all the same
Bȃtard first opened in June as the love child between Bistro du Vin and The Fine Wine Experience, which was just a month before the third wave hit the city and social distancing rules tightened once again. So if you blinked too hard, you may have missed when the restaurant officially opened, which in our opinion, should have been to greater fanfare. For that reason, we have since returned to Bȃtard to let you know what’s good at the restaurant and that it is still open.
With a name like Bȃtard, which stems from the old French word for bastard, you’re not wrong in assuming that this restaurant is more easy-going than other formal wine-focused establishments in Hong Kong. Wine connoisseurs may also have guessed that the restaurant was named after the grand cru vineyard Bâtard-Montrachet in Burgundy, indicating their penchant for fine wine. And yes, the name does point towards the oblong-shaped French bread too, a loaf in between the round boule and long baguette – neither here nor there – a bread bastard if you will.
Walk past the ultra-modern wine cellar to find a dressed down but well-spaced restaurant. The interior, accented with cerulean drapes and deep teal walls, is adorned with decorative mirrors and calligraphy naming vineyards from around the world. A wine restaurant at its very core, Bȃtard offers a well-balanced list of top wines and small growers that reach the terroirs of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, the Mosel, Rhône, California, and beyond, all at retail price. In case you’re wondering, that’s 75 to 80 percent less than usual restaurant prices, allowing diners to drink well without selling their kidneys. The longer wine list extends even further, giving access to over 1,000 entries at retail price. You just need to give them a day’s notice for them to retrieve it from the warehouse.
As expected, the wine is excellent. We start with a glass of Château de la Maltroye 2016 ($210/glass), a French wine marked by minerals, a slight salinity, and brisk lemon to whet the appetite before settling in on a silky full-bodied Italian Sottimano Barbaresco Basarin 2016 ($550/bottle) with spicy scents, cherry, tobacco, and herbaceous undertones.
Food-wise, expect elevated comfort food. And by comfort food, we mean food that is prepared simply but executed to great effect, and therefore brings you an immense amount of comfort. The standout dish is the cold angel hair ($380), neatly twirled in kombu into a beautiful bundle, topped with a shiso flower and Kristal caviar that is resplendent with the flavours of the sea. Similarly, the main dish of roast chicken with rice pilaf ($790/whole chicken serves 2 to 4 people; pre-order is required) is superb. Using local chicken, the meat is wonderfully tender and sits on seasoned rice cooked Hainan chicken rice style, which has soaked up all the savoury essence of the chicken.
The crunchy Alaskan king crab ‘popcorn’ is served with a pepper coulis ($320) and more subtle in flavour, but fun to eat all the same. While freshly baked madeleines ($120) with a proud bump were soft and airy, but could do with a little zest to brighten it up, and served with a velvety chocolate mousse.
Set lunch is great value and available with three ($380) or four-course ($480) menus to choose from. For those that enjoy jazz, you'll be pleased to know that the restaurant also transforms into a lounge featuring local jazz artists on Tuesday nights, so make sure to check finewineexperience.com as tickets sell out quickly. Or if you're more of the sing-it-yourself type, the restaurant space also holds its own karaoke rooms.
Bȃtard is a triumphant trifecta of great wine, good food, and impeccable service – friendly and attentive, but not overly so – so it's no wonder we returned, and now, you probably will too.
Inside The Fine Wine Experience, Shop E, 165-166 Connaught Rd West, Sai Ying Pun
|Opening hours:||Mon to Sun: Dinner 6-9pm; Thu-Sun: Lunch 12-2.30pm|