On Honest Hens And Wooden Spindles

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

A: Meet me at 12.45 pm. Central star ferry pier.

No questions asked. I have faith that whatever’s up A’s sleeve, regardless of whether it is a chinese dai pai dong or a 3 star restaurant, would not disappoint.

See, I really think my friends are like my secret agents.

A ferry ride across the harbor later, we made a left upon gracing the TST shore and found ourselves in front of Harbor City.

Hello, Al Molo.

This place, I would say, has an air of sincerity about it. Maybe it’s the decor – the white washed tiles, the exposed brick walls, the wooden spindles, the array of wine bottles and (somehow I particularly noticed) a glazed china sculpture of an artichoke the designer himself apparently spent an hour arranging on the top shelf above the bar. Maybe it’s the lighting – the floor to ceiling windows pouring in stories from a rainy day, the warm glow from the hanging glass globes bouncing off the rustic walls and the wooden ceiling…

Then of course, maybe it’s the food – simply judging from its antipasti bar – a sensible variety of the freshest cheeses and meats (such good proscuitto) and salads. The game hen I had was delightful. I could still remember the heat seething out from its core as I let the crisp, golden skin, the meat and the jus dance and change partners and again and again in my mouth.

Faraona. Roasted hen, savoy cabbage, porcini mushrooms, pancetta, rosemary.

Risotto. Acquarello risotto, wild mushrooms, parmigiano

Tiramisu. Italian mascarpone mousse, espresso soaked lady fingers, salsa ciocolata.

Tartaletta. Gianduja chocolate tart, orange zabaglione, hazelnut crunch gelato.

As per usual, when dessert arrived: the fear of overnutrition, syndrome of a child raised in a developed country, settled like a black crow at the back of my head.

Chocolate, on the contrary to my favorite saying, is not always an exception. I love saying it, but I’m a shameless hypocrite. Chocolate too sweet, too stale, too hard, too soft, too oily – chocolate cakes too crumbly, too dry, and again too sweet, cookies too sugary – would be looking at the fate of the bin.

But here is a chocolate tart that could roll through the gates of fashion skinnydom with exaggerated swagger and no stick animal would dare stand in its way. It’s a tart with a thin,   crisp pastry crust that holds in its midst a toasted hazelnut bottom and a pool of the most gorgeous and silky gianduja chocolate.

I like this place. The attention to the littlest things and the unpretentiousness of this Michael White joint delights me.

Another thing, you have no idea how grateful I am for restaurants with the right menu size, and a graceful maitre d’ who knows the answer to ‘What is good today?’ and ‘Surprise me’, as it happens to be the case at Al Molo. It happens much too often that when a waiter arrives to take our orders, I would look as if I was strapped to my seat by some invisible wires – a deer trapped in headlights, terrified eyes oscillating spasmotically between ‘roast leg of lamb with blah blah balh’ to ‘grass fed beef…’ to ‘pan-fried….’ until everything on the menu in front of me becomes a confused shower of alphabets.

Please, I begged myself in silence, whether you’re ordering a side of potato au gratin or not – is not going to change your life.

Freedom of choice, I have come to discover, does not always bring freedom.

Good meals, I have also come to discover, always bring good days.

And that was a pretty good day.

The pretty sassy bar... makes me miss NYC

*

Al Molo, G63, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Decor: 5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Taste: 4.5/5
Price/head: 200-300 HKD (lunch)

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