Bistro du Vin
Date of review: December 19, 2012 | Reviewed by: Elaine Wong
A quaint and convivial addition to the up-and-coming Kennedy Town, Bistro du Vin is nestled in the centre of Davis Street between its sister restaurant Pizza Piccolo and English gastropub The Pier. The décor is modeled after classic French bistros where the charm is in the details. With a wooden bar counter and high tables to greet diners at the entrance, the small but cosy dining room is ornate with antiques such as wine labels, street signs and vintage wine tasting cups hanging on its high wooden walls. Bare wooden furniture, art deco-style tiled flooring and warm, diffused lightings complete the casual but welcoming atmosphere. With less than 20 tables spread over two sides of the room, there is just enough space in between to keep your conversation private, and the high ceilings help control the ambient noise. At the rear of the restaurant is a cellar profiling the restaurant’s French wine collection.
Fitting for an operation by Les Amis Group, who also run fine-dining French restaurant Cépage on Star Street, traditional French fare is on offer at this bistro. These include the classics, from coq au vin and rabbit legs to homemade duck rillettes, and there are more daily specials written on the chalkboard, including seafood bouillabaisse and desserts. Our first starter comprised five pieces of escargot served on top of a huge piece of soft and fatty bone marrow, covered in a rich and creamy garlic butter sauce – a quite heavy but decadent choice to kick off the meal. A mix-up with our orders meant that pan-fried foie gras arrived instead of foie gras terrine, but we didn’t mind the confusion as the two generous pieces of liver were perfectly cooked, with a crisp exterior and served with some appetising caramelised peaches and walnuts. The duck confit also demonstrated the chef’s competence in the kitchen – the duck meat was incredibly tender, and melted off the bone, rendering a knife redundant. We wished the duck was served with some equally decadent duck fat fries, but here we only got plain potato wedges. Beef cheek is braised in a sweet and aromatic red wine sauce, and again the meat is cooked beautifully and bursts with flavour. This main course is served with a generous chunks of fourchette potatoes so no extra side is needed. Two out of three desserts require 15 minutes preparation, yet the taste of both is worth the wait. Our Grand Marnier souffle was beautifully risen and remarkably light, with perfect hint of the liqueur and very gently sweetened. Our second choice came from specials of the day – banana crumble – which is a quite substantial dessert. The crumble was deliciously infused with ripe banana flavour, making it a perfect warm dessert on a cold day.
In true bistro style, the list offers solely French wines in a short list comprising 30 choices by the bottle and six by the glass. There has clearly been some thought put into sourcing some unusual vintages such as a 2001 Domaine de L'Arlot Nuits St. Georges. However, we recommend taking advantage of the free corkage and just BYO, rather than suffering from the high mark ups. There are also plenty French liqueurs on offer, ranging from chartreuse, calvados and massenez, as well as absinthe.
In stark contrast to the fine food and wine, the service needs much improvement. The restaurant’s poor organisation turned us off even before we actually arrived at the restaurant, as different people called us three times the night before to confirm the wrong booking. The staff did not seem certain about the menu, and all dishes arrived with no explanation. Throughout our meal the service was stiff with few smiles, while wrong orders were taken and dirty plates were not removed until we asked.
A satisfying three-course meal with a glass of wine should average about HK$500 per head. This price is reasonable and the portions are good for sharing.