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Done in a suave black and purple colour scheme, Pierre is quite a sexy restaurant. Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, it is far from staid. A central, rectangular chandelier which changes colour sets the chic mood, while small flower arrangements keep things lively, but understated. Part of the appeal of the setting, naturally, is what is outside. Floor-to-ceiling windows highlight the restaurant’s prized location, which is in the heart of Central, and the lights outside deliver a palpable energy to the dining room.
Due to budgeting issues, we had to conduct our review at Pierre over lunch, not something that is usually the case here at Tatler. However, this constraint became a blessing in disguise, as some of our favourite dishes actually came not from the a la carte menu, but the express lunch menu. The oyster “special” for example, was truly spectacular. A bowl holding five shucked Gillardeau oysters in a watercress broth was topped with a cooling cucumber granite, while the flavours of the molluscs were anchored down by a surprising layer of beef jelly at the bottom of the dish. Our starter from the a la carte menu, the Seafood Garden, paled in comparison. The star of the Garden was a langoustine with preserved lemon paste; and it was accompanied by three side dishes. One held a langoustine bisque; another a white crab meat and avocado; and the last bowl held another serving of Gillardeau oysters. Both the bisque and crab meat were seasoned just a touch heavily for what we thought should be a light starter, but the oysters stole the show with its unusual accompaniment of sorrel, which put them in a distinctly earthier element. For mains, our lunch set offered up a grilled beef rib-eye. Rather than the expected slab of meat, we were presented with beautifully marbled cubes of French beef, resting on a bed of celeriac and tabouleh. We loved this dish. The acidity of the tabouleh did wonders to cut through the fatty beef, as well as the extra-indulgent squares of bone marrow. From the a la carte menu, we ordered the signature Lobster, which once again, spread itself out in three plates. The blue lobster was cooked beautifully, albeit a tad overshadowed by the piquillo sauce; the lobster bisque with black rice was much more successful than the langoustine bisque in the starter; and the lobster claw in its chilled cupola with brown shrimp mayonnaise and hint of lemongrass really brightened up the whole dish. For dessert, the chocolate soufflé came surprisingly flat rather than towering, but the depth of flavour and richness blew us away and we learned an important lesson: never judge a soufflé by its appearances.
The wine list at Pierre is long and exhaustive. Categorised by country, Pierre has a good number of impressive bottles from established wine-producing regions such as France and Italy, as well as some more unexpected entries from eastern Europe and the Middle East. Available in a number of formats from half bottle to magnum, this is quite a serious list. But if you find it intimidating, you have two options. Consult the friendly sommelier, or head to the daily feature section, which highlights unusual wines, available by the glass and are priced reasonably from HK$120-HK$268 per glass.
The service at Pierre is friendly and not as formal as you would expect, and the managers are known to crack a joke or two. One small flaw that we noticed was that the staff would come to clear up some of the many side dishes while we were still eating, which we found just a touch intrusive and would have preferred all our dishes cleared at once, when all diners were done with the course. But that is a small quibble, for Pierre offers very good service otherwise.
A meal for two, with one glass of wine each only, comes to around HK$4,000. For those on a tight budget, the express lunch menu is the best option, priced at HK$448 for two courses, or HK$508 for three.