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Better known for its shopping than it’s fine dining, Harbour City is nevertheless home to a true culinary gem. Epure can be found on the fourth floor of the vast mall, and boasts an expansive outdoor area for al fresco dining above the harbour where guests can enjoy drinks, bar snacks, desserts and afternoon tea as well as views across to Hong Kong island and its famous skyline. The fine dining section of the restaurant is found on the other side of historic French bakery Dalloyau, the selection of pastries and macaroons as well as its cheese cupboard with selections by distributor and specialist Xavier David whetting diners’ appetites as they pass through its café area where light lunches, afternoon tea and drinks are available. Through heavy doors the fine dining area is a change in mood from the bright lights of the café, with low lighting, comfortable round booths and window-side tables looking out across the twinkling terrace.
A trio of small amuse bouche is presented first – a miniature celery tart, foie gras with a cherry coating, and a deep-fried comte heavy on the truffle, each with well-thought out flavour profiles, delicate, and a sign of the delights to come. A further amuse bouche follows – a refreshing combination of diced beetroot and apple with cherry emulsion sprinkled with nuts. And these are just a precursor to an exceptional bread basket, accompanied by a selection of deliciously rich French Bordier butters, one with piment d’espelette, one with parsley and garlic, and one with lemon to go with the selection of mustard, plain, olive, milk and cheese breads, baguettes and croissant options. A selection of tasting menus are on offer at Epure – one titled ‘For Her’ featuring lighter, more refreshing options including vegetarian and fish dishes, and one ‘For Him’ with red meat and slightly heavier offerings. A vegetarian set menu can be arranged with advance warning. The signature set dinner menu is a balanced four course experience, light yet satiating and begins in true French style with a rich foie gras, beautifully seared and served with pear three ways – poached, raw and pureed. It is a well-balanced dish of savoury flavours and sweet fruit. A rich soup of white button mushrooms follows which is creamy, perfectly thick yet smooth, with the addition of a pleasantly chewy green spinach gnocchi and fresh spinach leaves and slices of mushroom to add colour as well as further textural interest. The signature vol au vont is a highlight of the meal, the crisp, flaky pastry breaking beautifully at the press of the knife into the base of monkfish and lobster with its indulgent lobster and langoustine bisque and addition of firm florets of cauliflower. The lobster is exquisite, supremely fresh and lightly cooked so it remains juicy and tender and the dish is the perfect combination of pastry and filling on multiple levels. For dessert there is a choice of cheese or soufflé. The former features a broad selection of five pieces from Xavier David served with a seasonal, homemade jam and more bread. The soufflé is a small Grand Marnier dessert, cooked through, light and fluffy and served with a refreshing yet sweet mandarin sorbet. Considered delights continue with a fabulous selection of petit fours including a pistachio jasmine financier with white chocolate, a lemon pie tart with raspberry and coconut meringue, and the unusual signature chocolate and black truffle mini macaroon, followed by a selection of homemade chocolates.
The wine is the only thing that slightly lets Epure down, though it’s not the wine list itself which is excellent with a good range of predominantly French wines. Staff don’t exhibit their wine knowledge and the sommelier is lacking in service confidence. He nevertheless seems to know his wine and the considered pairing to go with the tasting menu works well, though it is exclusively white, starting with a champagne, followed by a refreshing white, and ending on a sweet dessert wine.
Service is excellent from the get-go, and staff are attentive offering everything from knowledge and introductions to our dishes, to shawls should the temperature get too cool.
The signature four-course tasting menu is priced at $988 per person which for the high quality of food is good value. The three-glass wine pairing is priced at $388 per person so dinner for two comes in under $3,000, which is what one expects to pay for fine French dining in Hong Kong.