A MEAL SHARED WITH THE HUSBAND… uninterrupted by our offspring (questions; demands; accidents; arguing; “I don’t like that…fill in the blank…comments); is a rare meal indeed.
Being the generous (read: overindulgent); minders of children, in an age when it is expected you will expose your kids to as many experiences as you can (it will send us to the poor house very soon…) – most of our dinner reservations are for four.
Yes; the two of us nip out for a glass of vino and a shared bowl of fries (extra mayonnaise on the side) most Thursday nights – but a meal it does not make. When we travel ‘sans’ kids, it is the height of luxury to indulge our taste buds; a leisurely breaking bread together.
At the beginning
Pre-trip, I canvassed well-travelled friends for recommended places to eat in Hong Kong. Tosca appeared on many of their lists. Initially I had booked somewhere else (Mott 32 – for next time) – however having dined at the China Club the previous night (fabulous but minus THAT view) – I felt it would be selling short not to eat in Hong Kong with the city at our feet. The magical Concierge at The Peninsula managed to secure us a table with barely 12 hours’ notice.
Thus satisfied, I went off to have my hair done in anticipation of a romantic night (if ever you find yourself in Hong Kong I had the longest and most fabulous head massage at Il Colpo). But I digress…
Swooping through an underpass and around a circular drive; the Tosca Ritz Carlton rises high in a glittering tower (the ICC building which houses the Ritz Carlton is currently the tallest in the city) – complete with laser show beamed onto the exterior. It feels miles away from the subtle heritage of The Peninsula. The foyer entry is vast (slightly impersonal); however all the action was above us – so with our personal lift escort we made short time getting up there. The restaurant is reached by first going up to the hotel lobby, located on the 103rd floor, then going down one floor by escalator.
The entry to Tosca Ritz Carlton is via The Lounge and Bar – which I can only describe as the opposite of understated. Loads of red, and glass, and glitter. Thankfully Tosca is marginally more subdued (still lots of light fittings and glass) – albeit a rather cavernous room. The star of the show of course is the floor to ceiling windows where the action of Victoria Harbour and the lights of Kowloon play out. Our first table had me craning my neck to get a look; a quick chat to the Maître d’ and we were escorted to THE table with a view. Not quite first class (front row); but close enough.
INSIDER: having worked in the industry for many years I know that unless you are a VIP (or slip someone a cash handshake – yes honestly); then venues (restaurants, hotels, airlines) – might try and palm off the crap first. Generally, if you explain your dissatisfaction calmly, an employee will make every attempt to cater to your request. If they do; it doesn’t hurt to reward with a fair review or tip – I like to think the Karma goes around.
I should precede by stating I vacillate between being a curious diner, and wanting my stock standard favourites (grilled white fish; fries and salad). Before the gourmands starting jumping;in my defence I will say, that in reviewing a venue sticking to the same has its advantages – you can roughly compare apples with apples (besides I LOVE fish). However, feeling footloose and fancy free on this particular evening I threw caution to the wind and went wild with the menu. I do not usually order three courses; however lots of walking and not much in the way of lunch had built up our appetites, (we shared the entrée):
Entrée: Sea Tiramisù: Cereal bar with seawater crumble on red prawn carpaccio, roasted sea scallops, caviar and parsley pasta
Main: Charcoal glazed aged beef tenderloin, foie gras, baked potato cake, and grilled vegetables
Lamb loin wrapped in aged Parmigiano crust, dried vegetable crumble, green salad and red senise pepper
Dessert: Cheesecake with tomato jelly, bay leaf ice cream and lemon curd
A little gift dessert was given to The Husband; a rather fancy fairy floss and lollie confection
Highlights: The bread rolls – seriously I would crawl on glass to sample another of the warm, chewy parmesan rolls. I did have two – nearly a third… The beef was superb, melt in your mouth stunning.
Lowlights: The prices on the wine list – happy to pay for quality (I rarely complain about prices, ever) but this pushed the boundaries to the ridiculous – AUD$37 for a pleasant; NOT spectacular glass of red.
A bit hit and miss. I had read some reviews prior to dining and believe this is a bit of a trend. If the restaurant is full the service seems to dip slightly – young staff. None of this was particularly bad, just worth noting.
I did chuckle when our meals were placed in front of us and the waiter said with a flourish “Please photograph away…” – in a fine dining restaurant? A Chinese acquaintance told me later there is a Cantonese saying “…the phone eats first” – oh the digital age.
This is special occasion dining. Our meal and a couple of drinks each; and the bill was in the vicinity of AUD$400.00.
I call this sort of evening experiential; and liken it to attending a show or play. There were lights; the dazzle of our fellow diners; activity in the open kitchen and the meals – a performance in themselves. Factor in all this, and the value is there.
Would I return?
No. Putting this one in the been there done that basket. All very nice and pleasant and no complaints; I just prefer my restaurants with a bit more soul…