There is a blog in the UK (Dos Hermanos – now dormant) where two brothers visited brand new openings in London. They often critiscised restaurants and were often criticised for not giving new comers a fair go. But they said: if they charge full prices at the start they are assessed accordingly. If they want a soft launch charge less whilst the place settles down. After last nights meal at View62 another new opening in HK I agree with them - it needs some fine tuning.
View 62 sits on top of the Hopewell Centre in Wan Chai, it’s owned by King Parrot Group (37 restaurants and 26 brands) and they have bought 2 Michelin starred chef Paco Roncero food to Hong Kong. Paco hold two stars at the La Terraza del Casino de Madrid, which also has Ferrán Adriá as the exec/consultant chef, I believe Paco also worked for a period at El Bulli so he is a true disciple of the molecular movement.
The restaurant fit out is great; it sits on the 62nd floor and revolves so the view is good. We only found out it was open when the billboard near the Hopewell Centre changed with a number for bookings. When we asked the barman how long they had been opened he said, they were not really fully open as they were going through a soft launch with no publicity….that explains why such a large room (100+ covers) only had 14 diners on a Saturday night.
We are early so we start at the bar for an aperitif. The cocktail list has pictures, which put me off straightaway; it felt like a fun pub. We asked for the wine list, it comes on an iPad, however the software is dire and it is nearly impossible to search for anything unless you go back to the start each time. The wines also have no descriptions or drill down capability. You find a pinot, you can see the year, but there is no information on the country of origin, nor are there any tasting notes. Basically a sheet of A4 with a list of wines would have been better. Wines by the glass show very little imagination and so we passed and went for a decent (albeit) expensive bottle of Albariño. Given the nature of the menu it was a worrying signal that the wine by the glass section was quite dull – given these warning signs I didn’t even ask about a wine-matching package for the menu!
We had been sent six menus (two dinners at $680 or $860, two lunches $298 and $398 and two degustation’s at $1,400 and $1,800) earlier in the week with the instruction to select our menu 3 days in advance and to pay a deposit. We rang up to comply but the rather chaotic booking line didn’t know what to do. In fact they had already lost our reservation despite emailing a confirmation with the menu. We arrive and receive a menu at our table with the two dinner menus but no degustation choice – soft opening I assume!
We opt for the $860 (+10%) and start with a molecular Gin Fizz cocktail (not on the menu), its pleasant with a warm foam sitting on an ice base. Next the amuse (or snack) which is “Olive Oil Butter” and “PhiloPizza”. The butter comes in a little ointment tube and is squeezed into a little pastry boat with micro greens. To be frank it tastes of greasy butter with an olive oil overtone – not pleasant. The Pizza is really a Parmesan biscuit (i.e. grate parmesan on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for ten minutes) so not exactly earth shattering. We then receive the breadbasket, which is pretty good, served with some decent oil, lots of different rolls all warm.
An “Almond Soup with Scallops and Artichoke” is next. This is a pretty faithful reproduction of an Andalucían almond gazpacho and it goes down well. Things are picking up. Next the fish course which is “Salmon cooked at 40°C with Cucumber and Pineapple Salad” again quite good although the flavors are quite restrained. The pineapple is subtle and all the flavors do work. This is followed by “Iberico Presa with Chimichurri Sauce” a decent piece of slightly chewy meat served with two versions of the sauce. Again the flavors are a little muted but enjoyable.
We then move onto the mains first “Turbot Galizian Style” which is a nice piece of firm fish with a potato sauce. It is fine but again follows the tone of the meal by being a touch muted in terms of flavor. There is then a choice of mains and we opt to take one of each and share, first “Pigeon with Truffle Puree and Apple Jelly”, the pigeon is very well cooked with a fine deep flavored jus. However the blobs of apple jelly are totally tasteless as are the little dots of truffle so no fireworks. The “Lamb Shoulder at Low Temperature with Lemon Puree” is similar, a well-cooked piece of meat but the two types of lemon sauce add nothing, both quite disappointing dishes lacking anything to make them standout.
Dessert reinforces the theme: “Our Strawberry with Cream” is a miserly plate with a few micro blobs of cream and strawberry. In most places this would be a pre-dessert. Here it is the main event. Coffee or Tea is prominently included as part of the menu, It turns out that doesn’t mean all teas and coffees, so no chamomile tea – that is extra.
With only 14 diners service is a bit creaky, which is allowable in a soft opening environment, but they do have quite some way to go to lift their game. Our main waiter though was superb, he was really friendly and went out of his way to explain the food. That said his shift ended at 10:00 so we changed staff which is slightly strange.
It isn’t cheap at $3,100 for two. Two decent wines at the bottom of the list the Albariño at $530 and an Austrian Pinot at $440 went well with food. It is a work in progress and may settle down. It is a great room; if the food is revved up and gets more interesting it may be worth a second visit. Note: Paco isn’t in the kitchen, he is in Spain with one of his team manning the stoves in HK. I would have thought he would have been here for the set-up like Mario Batali and team was at Lupa which hit its stride from day one with a two week wait for a table.
I hope they take a few more risks and free up the kitchen to do more interesting food and hopefully the owners address the little bits and pieces that need to be fixed in order to achieve the standards you expect from a restaurant at this price point. I will be interested to read further reviews especially when it settles down into its stride.
PS: Sorry for the bad photos it was very dark.