Date of review: January 4, 2012 | Reviewed by:
Looking out over Repulse Bay’s sheltered waters from a carefully restored colonial building that was once the site of one of Hong Kong’s most elegant hotels, you could hardly ask for a more picturesque setting for a restaurant. From the grand piano at the entrance and the languidly whirling ceiling fans, to the immaculately turned out waiting staff, The Verandah is replete with old-school charm and an attention to detail that seems as effortless as it is flawless. While many restaurants try to sell the notion of colonial refinement and gentility, this is one of the few that does it for real.
If you’re looking for unusual dishes or envelope-pushing cuisine then go elsewhere, but if you want classic European dishes prepared with care and skill, it’s difficult to go far wrong. The oyster selection comprises Smoky Bay, Coffin Bay and Tasmanian varieties, and a dozen (HK$300) come served on a silver-plattered bed of ice along with half a lemon and a light tangy sauce on the side. Steak tartar (HK$328) is a house speciality, and the staff prepares it on a cart at your table. Made from ground lean Cedar River Farms Holstein Natural American Angus beef tenderloin, and seasoned to your specifications, it’s one of the better renditions to be found in the city. The Verandah seafood mixed grill (HK$408) plates fresh lobster medallion, organic Irish salmon, fish fillet, black mussels, king prawn and scallops together to reasonably accomplished effect, while the French pork chop from the Basque Iberian black pig (HK$538) scored well for flavour but was disappointingly overdone, thus rendering the high quality of the meat somewhat pointless. The Repulse Bay signature dessert sampler (HK$188) includes vanilla bean crème brulee, cherries jubilee, mini baked Alaska, apple crumble and the wonderfully light Grand Marnier soufflé, another signature dish. Intended for two to share, it could comfortably sate three.
In true classical style, French wines dominate the list here, while there is also a strong showing of Italian vintages, as well as new world wines, the latter category helpfully arranged by grape varietal rather than by provenance. The inclusion of Wine Spectator scores where applicable is a handy navigation aid for the novice, while the sommelier really knows his stuff. Almost 20 wines served by the glass make course-by-course pairings an attractive option, while there are 12 champagnes and sparkling wines by the bottle if you’re in the mood to celebrate. Most surprising, however, is the number of bottles priced at HK$400 or under, more than 40 in total.
The level of service at The Verandah is nothing short of remarkable, and the staff has that rare gift for anticipating customer needs. They are also confident and gracious in making recommendations and more than happy to accommodate requests.
A three-course dinner for two without wine and service costs around HK$1,700, a price befitting of the setting and service if perhaps not quite the food itself.