Wine and Dine at The Press Room

Last week, I attended The Press Room‘s “Tour de France” tasting event to celebrate the newly launched menu and the restaurant’s exclusively French wine list. Located on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, The Press Room is an all-day bar (rejoice!) and casual brasserie that serves French-European comfort food using only the freshest, quality ingredients.

Upon walking into the bright, airy, open-spaced dining room, I immediately loved the The Press Room’s atmosphere. The wide windows in the dining area allowed for plenty of light into the room, but surprisingly, the noise from the street didn’t make its way in. The warm lighting, provincial paintings and plush leather seats instantly transported me back to the laid-back bistros in France that I used to haunt.

The tasting event started with a phenomenal tuna tartare served over a creamy avocado salsa, which is always a winning combination in my book. It was a gorgeous dish to look at and an even better appetizer to devour. The tiny slices of chilli pepper hidden within the avocado gave the tuna tartare an occasional and unexpected kick. Extremely well done.

Although I’m not a fan of beetroot, I have to mention The Press Room’s beetroot carpaccio appetizer that my neighbor, the Hong Kong-based foodie e_ting, enjoyed. The colors were stunning and the ingredients were crisp and fresh. It was everything a good salad should be.

My main course of rosemary marinated lamb chops with mixed bean salad and mint pesto fell a little short of my expectations. The meat was cooked a bit too long, leaving certain areas of the lamb chops slightly tough and chewy. The mint pesto was pleasant, but no unique flavors were gained from it. I was hoping for a more interesting flavor to surprise me from the lamb chops, but the dish proved to be rather ordinary.

At this point, I suffered a bit of food envy for the chargrilled spatchcock e_ting had ordered. My mouth watered at the mere whiff of the garlic butter, lemon and thyme that smothered it. I was lucky that e_ting offered me a portion of her massive plate to try. The chicken skin was crisp and full of flavor. Although the portion I tried was tender and juicy, e_ting mentioned that the breast was dry. The meat could have been further infused with the flavors that made the skin so amazing, but I did enjoy my small tasting!

I enjoy wine, but I wouldn’t classify myself as a wine-person. I can distinguish between which wines I like and which ones do not suit my personal palate, but I can’t even begin to discuss individual grapes, robustness or acidity so I’m not even going to try. Luckily, The Press Room Group’s wine director and sommelier, Kavita Devi Faiella, was on hand to offer her expertise on the three wine pairings.

I enjoyed the Couly-Dutheil “Melodia” 2010 Sauvignon Blanc served earlier with my tuna tartare, but I was quite taken with the Deux Montille 2008 Pinot Noir, served slightly chilled. It was the perfect pairing for my main course and I wished I didn’t have to leave the luncheon to return to work, else I would have enjoyed a couple more glasses!

Full of food and slightly inebriated (there already had been at least two glasses of wine with my lunch so far!), my second stomach had to take over when the desserts were served.

I’m not usually a fan of citrus desserts, but the BEAUTIFUL lemon meringue tart (a Press Room signature dessert) caught my eye. The meringue was gorgeously executed and I felt a little guilty for having to destroy it in order to taste it. As a lover of sweeter desserts, the tartness of the lemon meringue could have been better balanced with a sweeter filling, but the rich, buttery pastry convinced me to forgive and helped me thoroughly enjoy this glorious dessert.

As many of you know, I am a dessert person. A sweet end to any meal will always make or break my overall experience of a restaurant. The desserts at The Press Room perfectly encapsulate my general impression.

In short, The Press Room serves beautifully plated food in a casual and open environment. There are pleasant flavors present in each dish to delight, but on the whole (save my tuna tartare), I felt there was just one element missing to pull out all the stops. Service was attentive enough without being intrusive. The major draw for me personally will be the impressive French wine selection. I can definitely see myself giggling over glasses of wine with friends at The Press Room on any given lazy Sunday afternoon.

*The Press Room just announced weekday three-course prixe-fixe lunches starting at $138! Main course options are rotated weekly. This, I like!

Jorge de Silva, Head Chef at The Press Room

The Press Room, Ground Floor, 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
(852) 2525 3444

© Connie Hum 2011

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