Verdict: Redefining French dining
Fine French dining is a wonderful thing, especially when it isn’t overly ‘white tablecloth’ and pretentious. At Seasons, what you find is a chic space with an easy contemporary feel, combined with classic French dishes that have been re-thought with Asian influences and executed with skill. This, of course is to be expected, as the chef and co-founder of this restaurant is none other than Olivier Elzer, formerly the head chef at the Mandarin Oriental’s Pierre Restaurant and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Landmark. What Seasons aims to offer is affordable French dining that only uses the freshest ingredients, which reflect the seasons. So expect an ever changing, innovative menu.
As we pass through the metal gate and verdant façade, we enter the beautiful, autumn-inspired main dining room area of the restaurant, which has an adjoining marble counter that looks into the open kitchen and two large Japanese teppan grills. The flooring features dark, tessellated wooden panels and the walls are coloured in a modern grey and taupe hue, accented with bright green for a cosy and elegant feel. The restaurant also boasts two private rooms in the back, a greenhouse dining area with a glass canopy and a garden terrace. Collectively, the restaurant spans a vast 8,000 sq ft.
We take a seat at the chef’s bar table and decide between the set menu ($600-$800) and the à la carte options, the former available in either half or full portions. We opt to go à la carte and order everything in half portions, so we can have a proper tasting of what Seasons has to offer. Drinks wise, Seasons boasts an ample wine list with 80 percent of the wines hailing from France.
We start things off with the tuna belly ($138), topped with shallots and five-spice over a small mound of guacamole. The seemingly simple dish, to our delight, is a refreshing start to the evening, with the cooling and tender tuna contrasted with the hearty guacamole. The ginger and spice seasoning give it just the right amount of kick to open up the palate. Next up is the delicate king crab pentad (which means it’s prepared five ways, $228) – one of our favourites. We start with the classic chilled crab-bite that’s sweet, succulent and rich in delicious brine flavour. The tempura-fried crab could use a bit more crunch for texture. The third preparation is the crab salad wrap, which again uses a nice touch of ginger heat to contrast the cooling mayonnaise. The fourth dish is a delectable, buttery affair, that adds a gentle and sensual touch to the tongue. The fifth and final crab piece is another salad, but this time, it utilises tartar sauce for a more vinegar-sweet finish. Next, we choose the chilled tamarillo gazpacho ($216), topped with basil ice cream and brousse cheese. The basil ice cream adds a pleasant cooling accent to the soup, but as a whole, the dish isn’t as refreshing as we would have liked for a gazpacho. And, it's arguably too sweet if you are more accustomed to a traditional style of the dish.
For mains, we opt for the teppan-seared frog legs ($168), topped with garlic and parsley, with a poulette sauce – made with the bones of the frog – put on the side for dipping. Overall, the texture is moist and tender with a subtle chicken-like flavour. The sauce adds a nuanced and refined flavour, but the dish begs for a hint of salt. The real highlight of the evening goes to the langoustine black rice risotto ($278) cooked with masala butter. The Indian curry flavour is a welcome addition that blends harmoniously with the rich and creamy risotto. The fleshy langoustine is cooked to perfection and, together with the rice, creates a balanced, complete dish. Our last main is the duo of scallops ($198) bathed in hazelnut butter. The sweet and flavourful scallops – like many of the dishes – are cooked perfectly and, together with the luxuriously light and sweet butter sauce, show off the true essence, nuance and detail that goes into French cooking.
To complete the meal we try two desserts, the passion fruit soufflé ($138) and the strawberry jelly mascarpone ($138). The soufflé is fluffy, lightly sweetened and together with the passion fruit crème makes for a sensual and smooth dessert to crave after. The strawberry dish, however, though plated beautifully, tasted average by comparison. It didn’t hit the sweet spot as we would have hoped.
There is no doubt that Seasons is going to be the new talk of the town. With its affordable prices, refined dishes and comfortable setting, it has a welcome place in Hong Kong’s saturated dining industry. We can’t wait to see how this restaurant is going to progress and what new dishes chef Olivier is going to create come autumn. Arthur Tam
|Venue name:||Seasons by Olivier E||Contact:|
Shop 308 , 3/F Phase 2, Lee Gardens, 2-38 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay