Verdict Good presentation and ideas but too heavy on the purse
Sometimes a restaurant opens in Hong Kong and you start salivating as soon as you hear about it. The dishes sound creative, the ingredients sound sumptuous and the culinary direction sounds spot on. And then you see the prices. And they’re high. So, even before taking a peek at the exteriors, you’ve created an image in your head of a taste extravaganza that’s worth a dent in your wallet. We do just this when we hear about Bayta, which recently opened its doors down at the quiet end of Hollywood Road. The Mediterranean-inspired eatery from the same team which owns La Cabane promises to knock up innovative feasts for the eyes and the belly. And the set menu prices – for you can only opt for a set menu here – are $650 for a starter, main and dessert or $490 for a starter with a main or dessert. That’s high. So, we’re expecting a star meal when we enter the simple green exteriors.
We don’t get a star meal. We get a decent taste experience. But it’s not what you’d expect for those price points. After settling down at one of the handful of tables in this simple industrial-rustic interior, we tuck into our first course choice of a mini vegetable pie with brocciu cheese alongside a ham and herb salad. The pie is a tough cookie to cut but the crust is tasty enough, although the veggie filling is nothing spectacular. The salad, though, is much better, with its ham and coriander combination adding flavour when mixed in with the pie’s filling. A good start but not excellent.
The raspberry vinegar deglazed tuna and stuffed vine leaves we order for our mains really is the feast for the eyes we’ve been expecting. The tuna pieces are scarlet in the middle but the whole ensemble together doesn’t dance in the mouth like it should. We love the halves of raspberry which bring out a sweet acidic flavour when combined with the fish but the vine leaves’ fillings are on the dry side. Again, it’s a good dish. But it lacks star quality. We finish with a date square and 80 percent chocolate dessert. The square is rich, slightly nutty and satisfying, with the chocolate working well with the sprig of mint. However, the panna cotta on top doesn’t shine. It’s good but… we’ve said it already.
At these prices, you need something extra. We feel that Bayta needs more work to become a pioneer, plus it seems a little heavy on the French side, rather than being a total Med experience. The staff are super-friendly, though, and the natural wines which are on offer pair well with the food – we’re impressed with the Trebbiolo Rosso, 2013, La Stoppa, which works wonders with the tuna – so, we’re hopeful this place can reach Time Out favourite status like La Cabane pretty soon. Just keep those prices down, guys.
252 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
|Price:||Dinner for two: $1,300|