Tsim Sha Tsui
Date of review: May 20, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Located on the top floor of a new building in Tsim Sha Tsui East, Maison Eight comprises four different sections: a Bollinger Champagne lounge, an event space, a cocktail bar and a French restaurant named Esme. Esme’s square-shaped dining area features minimalistic décor, with an unlikely pairing of pink carpets with an abundance of dark wood. Guests can settle in comfortably even when the dining space is full.
The menu at Esme is classically French with plenty of starters and mains to choose from, some with more traditional elements than others. We began with the pink roasted pigeon salad, candied endives, lettuce leaves, the only starter available with a half-portion serving. The beautiful bird is succulent and roasted medium rare, but the highlight is the candied endive – refreshingly sweet with a bitter finish, paired well with the lightly dressed lettuce leaves. King scallops with bacon and anise sauce also comes with garoupa mousse, which is hardly detectable, but the scallops just touched the pan for mere seconds and remained juicy within.
For mains, the braised calf tail with mushrooms and soft polenta is perfect. Tender shreds of pulled meat from the braised tail comes enrobed in a single wilted leaf of cabbage. The earthy mushroom sauce brought the flavours all together harmoniously. Maine lobster thermidor, with mustard, mushrooms and creamy cheese sauce features juicy chunks of sautéed lobster served with cheese-filled sauce with a tangy spike of mustard. The portion size and seasoning is just right.
Esme’s desserts do not keep the same standard as its starters and mains. The poached pear with Bollinger vintage Champagne sabayon showcased fanned pear slices that were still hard in the middle, and despite the sweetness from the Champagne, the sabayon still tasted a bit raw, even though the bruleed top is a nice touch. Rhum baba with mango and mint also comes with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. The baba itself may benefit with some Chantilly cream, and the soaking needs more rhum than syrup. The sorbet is also a little on the sweet side. Alternatively, choosing a fruity night cap may be a better sweet ending of a great meal at this establishment.
The wine list at Maison Eight is impressive, as wines are divided into grape varietals, with a good portion served by-the-glass. Larger parties should consider ordering from the selection of magnums as there are some rare labels in the list. We opted for the cocktail option, ordering from the main cocktail menu. The Breakfast Martini is a refreshing cocktail, pairing gin with Cointreau, zinged with lemon juice and a touch of marmalade for sweetness. The slight bitterness echoes that of the candied endive in the starter. Spicy Fifty, a chilli-spiked cocktail with elderflower cordial and vanilla, the latter a rounded pairing with the lobster main we ordered. The mocktail list also offers the option to add additional alcoholic boosts as well.
Service at Maison Eight is friendly and attentive. The staff at the restaurant are familiar with menu offerings, from cocktails to a la carte selections, supplied with additional description of ingredients and how they are prepared.
A full dinner for two complete with one cocktail each amounts to just under HK$2,000. The price may be relatively high compared to restaurants in the same area, but the execution of dishes and service offered are fine and delicate, and well worth the price paid