Date of review: January 12, 2017 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Bizou takes over the space formerly occupied by Grappas, and the designers have done a pretty spectacular job of transforming the venue, somehow finding extra room to make it feel more open than its predecessor. A muted palette of natural wood, white brick and concrete grey is accented with luxurious black leather, copper and marble to create a mix of comfort and elegance.
Tables are well spaced and configured to be cosy without being crammed. A few seats are available outside of the restaurant overlooking the mall lobby, but these are the dud tables that lack the atmosphere of the main dining room. There’s a long bar, too, should you wish to just drop by for a few J. Boroski cocktails.
Before the dishes, the freshly baked bread deserves a first mention—chef Magnus Hansson is an expert baker, and it shows in the final product of crisp, crackling crust and soft, open crumb.
Bizou is billed as an ‘American brasserie’ but while there are proper steaks and an aged, grass-fed beef burger, the majority of the menu is more of a celebration of, perhaps, the diversity of the American pantry. The menu reads comfortably, with just the right amount of dishes per section to offer variety without being too overwhelmed with choices.
Dishes bear the hallmarks of cuisines ranging from Middle Eastern to Swedish, Japanese to Italian. We’re recommended the grilled octopus with crispy potatoes, olives, young celery, mint hummus, sumac, extra virgin olive oil and lemon—a mouthful on the menu but in reality two rather skinny tentacles that were overcooked and dry to a point they resembled lean meat. The mint hummus and finely chopped green olives, together with the sumac, offered freshness and zips of flavour to compensate.
Zeitgeisty ingredients such as avocado, beetroot, kale and brussel sprouts make regular occurrences on the menu as well; the Brussels sprout and white cabbage salad with fresh oregano, parmigiano, avocado, lemon, toasted pumpkin seeds is a veritable green mountain of finely shredded vegetables that ticks the nutrition box upon sight, but the copious amounts of cheese made the dish far more indulgent than its description would have suggested. A greater variety in texture—the sprouts and cabbage, both shredded, blended into one another—and more acidity, perhaps from a juicy citrus or nubs of pomegranate, would make this salad shine.
The highlight of our meal is the slow-braised boneless short-rib in red wine with potato puree, gailan and fresh horseradish which is the very definition of fork-tender comfort food. The sauce is rich with lip-sticking collagen and the meat pulls away in quivering strands. The gailan (Chinese kale) is an odd addition but not completely out of place, and the flurry of freshly gratedhorseradish adds proper zing.
Desserts include lemon yoghurt bundt cake, coconut chocolate bread pudding and almond apple cake, the last of which is served with a rather strong cardamom ice cream.
Befitting the globetrotting fare at Bizou is a drinks menu that skews towards New World wines, with options available by both the glass and by carafe—both reasonably priced. Joseph Boroski was brought on board to handle the mixology, and the result is an inventive list of cocktails that reflect that great American melting pot with drinks such as the Multi Coastal: Arabica coffee-infused tequila, curry leaf syrup and egg whites.
There were no major hiccups with the service, with staff being cordial andattentive, and having reasonable knowledge of the menu and the ingredients. However, our comment about the dry octopus seemed to fall on deaf ears which may suggest that further training on handling feedback is needed.
A three-course meal for two with wine and service will come to around HK$1,200, though the portions are on the generous side and dishes aresuited for sharing, which will bring down the average spend.