Michael Taylor and a dining companion are invited for dinner at the BellBrook bistro oz by Laris, which opened on 24 October 2013 in Central on Hong Kong Island. They are served a mouth-watering tasting menu.
When asked if I’d like to start things off with a cocktail, I say yes, adding that I like cocktails with citrus.
“Do you like grapefruit?” I’m asked.
When I say that I LOVE grapefruit, the Bellbrook Lemonade is suggested, and what an excellent recommendation that proves to be.
Comprising grapefruit juice, lime juice, gum syrup, tonic water, Angostura bitters, and gin, it is served icy cold in a thick glass mug with slices of fresh fruit.
My New Favourite Tipple
The BellBrook Lemonade just might have replaced the Mojito as my favourite tipple, except that I don’t think many other restaurants are serving it.
Before our first dish arrives, we are presented with a circular loaf of crusty French bread and – for the first time since my last trip to San Francisco – I sink my teeth into bread that is both airy and chewy with a crust worthy of the name.
There is also that pleasantly sour taste that puts the “sour” in sour dough French bread!
The bread is accompanied by a mini-bucket containing a tiny plant sprouting one or two little green leaves in the middle of what appears to be soil.
I’m not sure if it is décor or if I’m supposed to eat it. As it turns out, it is a pot of butter topped with a layer of thinly minced black olives!
Oh, yum! The evening could end right here, and I would go home happy.
The menu at BellBrook runs from Table Bites to Table Salads to Extra Bites to Bigger Bites – plus, of course, desserts (if you’ve still got room).
For Table Bites, we sample the Baby Bonito Carpaccio with Finger Lime Sauce and Asparagus followed by Cod Brandade with Oyster Mayonnaise and Dad’s Pickled Octopus, which is served in a rich Merlot vinegar, tomato, jam, and herbs.
Inspired by Korean street food, the Twisties are a single potato that has been spiral cut and fried to create a single foot-long potato chip.
Served with a yummy white dipping sauce – of the three choices, we try the truffle salt – it inspires my dining companion to comment, “These are the best potato chips I have ever tasted!”
And I can assure you, she means this as the sincerest of compliments!
Ironically, at HK$78, Twisties are one of the least expensive items on the menu. They could easilly become this eatery’s signature dish!
By the time we get to Bigger Bites (i.e., main courses), we are already full.
The Grilled Black Pork Cheek + Wagyu Beef Rissoles are savoury meat balls set atop mouthwateringly moist rissoti that are tomatoey, cheesy, and a bit sweet.
They were inspired a dish that Chef David Laris’ mother used to cook at home, he tells me, and they do, in fact, have “home cooked” written all over them. They seem like something you would be served at Grandma’s house on Sunday.
Pan-fried Kangaroo Loin
When asked if we would prefer the Barramundi Cooked in Aborigine Paperbark or Pan-Fried Kangaroo Loin, we decide to share the latter, as neither one of us has ever tried kangaroo meat before.
The serving is generous and the meat perfectly cooked. The flavour does not seem as intense as beef or lamb.
It is topped with a yummy chocolate and raison sauce and served with parsnip puree, roasted potatoes, and a sweet onion sauce.
The potatoes, I think, could have spent a bit more time in the oven and a bit more seasoning.
According to Chef David, BellBrook just might be the only restaurant in town serving kangaroo meat at the moment.
He says that they are buying up his distributor’s entire consignment.
Not sure if it’s because of the taste or the novelty factor – or both. But it seems to be a hit with diners.
Steak Tartare – with Australian Characteristics
I’m not a big fan of steak tartare. To me it’s a bit like eating an uncooked hamburger patty topped with an uncooked egg – tasty, but nothing to write home about.
So it comes as a surprise that my hand’s down favourite dish of the evening is the Aussie Steak Tartare, which falls under the category of Tables Bites (i.e., starters).
It is delightfully served in a piece of bone that has been cut in half to create a sort of trough. There are hints of bone marrow, lemon zest, and wasabi – and something that adds texture.
As for the minced steak, it has been quickly seared under a flame – a Japanese technique known as tataki, I am told.
BellBrook has floats, shots, martinis, beers, ciders, cocktails, and bloody marys as well as an extensive wine list.
We wash our dinner down first with Palliser Estate 2011 Riesling from Martinborough, New Zealand, followed by Moda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2011, from Talamonti, Italy.
By the time we are asked about dessert, my dining companion and I are both stuffed to the gills, so we ask if we could just have teaspoon sized servings of a couple of the desserts.
A few moments later, two massive servings arrive – the Caramel Custard and Grandma Wolf’s Trufle and the F.O. Chocolate Cake.
If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love the chocalate cake. I must say, however, that I prefer the custard and trufle combo. The gooey sweet custard is the perfect foil for the bitter and slightly textured trufle – which looks like a giant meatball.
OMG! I’d come back – after fasting for a day – and make a meal of that custard and trufle combo and wash it down with a couple of cups of double expresso.
Then I’d head straight for the gym.
The BellBrook bistro oz by Laris is located at 2/F 77 Wyndham Street in Central on Hong Kong Island.