K and I had a perfect date night at a really adorable, cute little French private dining restaurant called Le Marron when we were in HKG.
It came just at the right time .. as a ‘family’ (Benjy, K, me) we have been going through some serious issues lately and I’ve been left feeling really exhausted and helpless. So many of my problems are beyond my control, I can’t do anything but just try my best to stay afloat until everything tides over I guess?
So .. dressing up to match is usually a prelude to our date nights. It was fun getting our photos taken at my parents’ new place – I just love the pretty staircase!
On K – Shirt (Tailored), Brown Leather Vest (Hong Kong), Khaki-coloured skinny slacks (Taiwan), and Tan Lace-ups (Hong Kong)
On Me – Liz Lisa’s Paris Autumn Key Piece dress (love the flower cameos), Velvet Ribbon (Hong Kong), Ferragamo ballet flats
We arrived just on time at the building in Causeway Bay. Imagine our delight when we entered the ramshackle old office building and took the lift up only to be greeted with elaborate chandeliers and completely rustic French-country styled dining nook! It was really rather exciting.
The space is really private – each dining party is separated from the other by very heavy, luxe and embossed dark red velvet curtains and of course, the patrons are very discreet so you will not be accidentally overhearing conversations.
Mmm just love autumn colours .. auburn, burgundy, apricot, cream ! and the wonderful weather. It was a really breezy cool 22 degrees that night .
For starters, K and I had the French Oysters and Baked Burgundy Escargots in Garlic Parsley Butter.
The food was very rustic and very good – to be honest, better than all the brasserie fare I actually had in Paris – brasseries are very overrated and almost all are tourist rip-offs – the best meals I had in Paris were in fine-dining establishments or buying from little hole-in-the-wall cafes/bakeries.
The Oysters were crazy fresh – and we aren’t even oyster people! With a squeeze of lemon from the very handy lemon-compressor, a dash of tabasco and topped with their light tomato salsa, it was just delicious ! Briny, clean, and so silky it was almost indecent.
The escargot was great, too – not overcooked despite being baked, and with an addictive butter sauce we quickly consumed with dinner rolls being the delivery system. -dies of butter fat induced happiness-
But my French onion soup managed to surpass both.
I have a terrible relationship with soupe a l’oignon –every single time I’ve had in – in Paris, in Italy, in Japan, and Singapore, it has been underwhelming. How sad is that ? I purposely went to restaurants noted for their french onion soup but it was always disappointing. Maybe I expect too much, or maybe most chefs feel that it’s such a simple and humble dish that they don’t put in enough effort.
To cut a long story short, Le Marron’s French Onion soup was happiness in the tummy.
I’m not talking molecular gastronomy or chi-chi re-interpretations – all I wanted was simple, homestyle French Onion Soup and that’s what they delivered.
Soup – Beef broth was savoury with a hint of sweetness from the caramelized onions, which were soft, melty, and just so comforting. The thick bread croutons underneath gave the soup heft – it was almost a mini meal on it’s own and just the perfect autumn soup.
The baked cheese cap just made things even better .. I had so much fun making a mess and annoying K with my bad table manners.
I had the Confit de Canard, or duck confit, which was very well executed.
The skin was crackly crisp, full of flavour, and they weren’t shy about leaving the fat on, which translated into tender, unctuous shreds of duck meat. I am a small eater, but I finished the whole portion. The duck confit sat on a bed of white bean mash, which I thought was a great touch – beans aren’t that heavy on your stomach (e.g you don’t feel like you swallowed liquid concrete) and the texture was both mash and roughly crushed soft beans with their thin skins still on, which made for a really interesting mouthfeel.
My only gripe is that the whole thing was kind of salty. Very tasty, but also a bit too salty.
K gave his main a perfect 10. Man loves his lamb chops, he does.
Roasted Tasmanian Rack of Lamb “Provencal Style
Roasted to the perfect done-ness, melty-soft meat with a flavoursome crust and no gamey taste at all.
The roasted whole bulb of garlic on the side was a nice surprise too. Roasting the garlic removed all its pungency – instead it was soft, sweet, and really smooth – almost a puree.
We barely had room for dessert but succumbed to the apple crumble anyway. ^^
It wasn’t special or particularly mindblowing, but it was made with care and tasted like so.
By that, I mean someone took pains to make sure each ramekin had properly cooked apples – cooked but not mushy, with a crumble that was golden, toasted, and crunchy, with a smooth vanilla cream on the side.
When your palate gets jaded and you’re sick of haute cuisine, sometimes simple home-style French cooking made with love just hits the spot.
And that’s what being married is all about too, isn’t it ? The formula and ingredients are simple, but getting it right is really tough – still, all it takes is love, patience, and care to make it all come together and fill your life (and tummy) with warmth and contentment.
At least that’s how we see our happily ever after !
Le Marron Private Kitchen
12/F, Ying Kong Mansion
2–6 Yee Wo Street
Strictly by reservation only.