Hidden on the second floor of a wine shop in Wan Chai is a lovely, cozy French restaurant called Le Bistro Winebeast. I love the concept. You can purchase any wine from the shop and enjoy it with your dinner without any corkage fee (woo hoo!). The wine prices are quite reasonable, and they have a nice selection of wines at various price points.
The sommelier is Cristina Ducroquet and the executive chef is her husband Johan Ducroquet. Before coming to Hong Kong, Chef Ducroquet trained at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and ran several other kitchens in France, Spain and South America.
The a la carte menu is divided into Frapas (French "tapas"), Starters, and Main Courses. Frapas cost $38 HKD for one, $68 HKD for two, $98 HKD for three, and $128 HKD for four. Starters range between $118 HKD and $188 HKD, and main courses range between $228 HKD and $278 HKD.
We decided to order three frapas and two main courses, foregoing the appetizers this time around. It was plenty of food!
We started out our meal with a nice selection of freshly baked bread and two types of spreads, butter and another type of animal fat.
Soon after, the three frapas arrived together on a wooden board.
The Beef Tartare with smoked chili came topped with a quail egg. This was pretty classic and it was solid.
The Tomato Soup with ham and roasted garlic was super flavorful and probably my favorite Frapa. The "ham" tasted like bacon to me, and the overall flavor was vibrant with lots of salty umami. Loved it.
The Eggplant Marmalade with Grilled Baguette was very good as well. There was some initial confusion about whether a grilled baguette was included or not (even though the menu clearly listed a grilled baguette as part of the frapa). They were happy to grill one up after Bryan requested the baguette (he had ordered that Frapa specifically because he had been drawn to the grilled bread).
We both really liked this Frapa as well, and we appreciated how the staff accommodated our requests and even apologized with a comped "add-on"later on in the evening.
For my entree, I enjoyed the Griddle Grilled Scallops ($258 HKD), four beautifully seared large scallops served with a butternut purée, lardon, Parmesan cheese emulsion, sea beans, and truffle oil.
They also shaved some beautiful winter truffles on top (not usually part of the dish!) as a "sorry" for their earlier mistake regarding the grilled bread.
The scallops were executed perfectly, and the dish was delicious, especially with the added black truffles!
Bryan ordered the Spanish Pork Filet Mignon ($298 HKD), which was cooked a lovely, tender "medium" with a perfectly pink center. This came with white radish, pak choi, and apricot marmalade. The pork was beautifully tender and the flavors came together really nicely.
We decided to skip sweet dessert and instead opted for the chef's selection of 5 cheeses ($188 HKD). It was an enjoyable (and generously sized!) cheese plate and we enjoyed all of the cheese. We couldn't help but compare to other French cheese plates we've enjoyed recently. We concluded we preferred the plates we've enjoyed at Epure and Serge et le Phoque more. I acknowledge that this may not be a fair comparison, since both of those restaurants are at a significantly higher price point. That was just what was going on in our heads that day.
General Thoughts - Le Bistro Winebeast Wan Chai
I really enjoyed our entire experience at Le Bistro Winebeast. The environment was cozy, the service was excellent, and the food was really, really nice. I love how you can buy bottles from the store and enjoy them with such great food in such a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The prices of the food are very reasonable considering the quality. You'll definitely save money on the wine.
One thing that slightly detracted from our dinner that night was another table nearby that was quite loud. I know sometimes the restaurant can't control this, but it was a bit distracting. I don't think the normal ambiance is like that, but there's always a risk when you're in a cozy space.
All in all, I would totally, totally go back again. During our first visit we didn't know we could pick any wine in the whole store. The wine list has several wines listed, but the store is bigger. Next time, we'll definitely have take our time to pick out a special and fun wine to enjoy with our meal. I'll definitely be back!
Le Bistro Winebeast Wan Chai
G/F & 1/F, Tai Yip Building
141 Thomson Rd., Wan Chai