The highest-profile opening to date this season does not belong to one single restaurant, but all coming down to a slew of collective openings inside Hysan Place, Causeway Bay's latest retail hub. Doubling as a booklover's paradise, the new shopping mall also houses many restaurants, among one of the more popular ones is "Le Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie", a French concept operated by The Drawing Room's Roland Schuller and Tony Cheng, of Hainan Shaoye and AMMO's fame. Together the duo aims to bring traditional French fare with a contemporary twist to mall-dwellers. As the name suggests, this dining venue is divided into two sections: The restaurant that holds 40 with a private dining that seats 10 comfortably; as well as the Croissanterie, which as its name would clue you in, is a shop that accentuates Le Salon's buttery Croissants. WOM has paid a visit to Le Salon, and while sampling some of its signatures, we also tried the famed croissants, find out below what we think about them.
Le Salon prides itself on traditional French fare with a contemporary twist. Having said that menu offerings are nowhere near ‘fusion' cuisine. With a wide variety of selections, one can spot some of the more familiar French dishes namely Coq au Vin, Steak Tartare, and Duck Leg Confit etc. To start our meal we had the "Classic Steak Tartare with French Fries". USA Prime Tenderloin is hand-cut into small dices. They are combined with a mixture of chopped onions, shallots, and chives. The meat mixture is dressed with a dressing of Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and extra virgin olive oil and stacked on a plate. Traditionally the meat is topped with a raw egg. Le Salon takes it an extra mile with a slow-cooked quail egg, encased inside the meat mixture and topped with beef consommé jelly. The extra meaty flavours from the meat and consommé is further enriched by the runny quail egg yolk, which clings onto the French fries, offering a contrast of hot and cold with soft tender beef cubes.
"Mussels de Bouchote a la Marinese" is quite a large serving for an appetizer of mussels cooked in Saffron broth. The aroma of Saffron is intense, and yet it pairs well with small, tender meat of mussels, whose texture matches well with crunchy croutons.
We picked the "Marseille Bouillabaisse" over French onion soup as a soup course. This fish soup has been known for complex and length preparation that requires not only the freshest fish but also meticulous accuracy to detail. Chefs at Le Salon takes Red Gurnard and Stone Fish into the creation with this fish stock base, together with the addition of carrots, leeks, celery stalks, fennel...etc. For a light anise aroma the chefs added a dribble of Pernod into the base and let it simmer for 2 hours until a flavorful soup base is created. Copious amounts of shrimp heads are fried with thyme, basil leaves and cooked further on with the flavorful broth, followed by the addition of fresh clams, shrimps and mussels. The fresh concoction takes on the colour of coral and a whiff of ocean brininess arises as the server pours the soup into a serving dish of shrimps, mussels and clams. While one would expect a strong taste of the fish that enrich the soup base, it is the shrimp flavor that takes over , and the saffron rouille on the top further clouds the palate into its floral sweetness rather than a straight and full-on fish soup richness.
For a taste of French fare, we turned our heads to La Salon's "Boeuf Bourguignon". Taking Wagyu beef cheeks from Australia instead of a tougher cut, the beef cheeks are marinated overnight and cooked sous-vide style for 30 hours together with a mélange of vegetables, tomato paste and a rich beef broth. The meat's texture remains soft and succulent while each bite is a juicy one. The bed of mashed potato and the base is creamy with just a hint of cream and butter, but the texture is just as fine as one could imagine traditional mash should be like.
"Duck Leg Confit" and "Coq au Vin" are another two of Le Salon's poultry signatures. The "Duck Leg Confit" features duck legs which has been seasoned with fresh herbs and slow cooked in duck fat until the meat is tender and flavorful throughout. The duck legs are then pan-fried until extra crispy. When served with a green salad dressed with vanilla white balsamic dressing, the tang from both the oranges and the salad cuts through the rich oily duck leg confit, as the sharp flavours help balance the substantial serving of duck meat in this course.
While "Coq au Vin" may be a classic dish adopting French chickens served at Le Salon, yet the slow-cooking process did little to brighten up the flavours, and the texture of the chicken breast was only tender in parts. The sauce was not in balance with this meaty dish, as we imagine it's a dish the restaurant may need to tweak on.
Dessert selections are modest. Le Salon combines two local favorites: Crème Brulee and Waffles into a plated dessert. The "Bruleed Waffle" as a crunchy caramelized sugar top and beneath it rich custard and crispy waffle. It is at just the right portion that allows even a full diner to enjoy the meal's sweet endings.
Out on the al fresco area is Le Salon's Croissanterie section, where a counter sells the restaurant's signature Croissants. After several visits and try outs, we were slightly doubtful about the quality of these croissants. Then we realized, it's all about "Timing". There are 4 types of croissants sold at the Croissanterie and all of them are filled with a sweet creamy filling. Knowing that a croissant is best served warm where the flaky texture and buttery richness are valued, we found that these croissants are baked in house, with their fillings piped in shortly after they came out of the oven. Here's when the issue of timing comes into consideration. Consumed straight after filling the croissants, the crust remains flaky but the piped-in filling remained chilled and paste-like; Waiting even just a few minutes may warm up the filling into a molten state (which is favorable) but that would also soaks up the flaky croissants within with a wet base, hence affecting the entire texture of the French pastry. Among all four we recommend the Chocolate croissant , whereas the fillings of both the Chestnut and the Caramel were too weak and the Tiramisu flavor had a coffee filling that's predominantly too strong. We would love to see a "Plain" Croissant offered at Le Salon in the near future, as we hope the quality will stand without the current filling situation.
Le Salon opens everyday for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner with a future option of a Sunday Brunch. Dinner service can be quite busy. Reservations are advised.