Restaurants are often made or broken by their staff. On both occasions we have been here for Sunday brunch we have been warmly greeted by Eduardo, the manager of Seasons the Michelin-starred French restaurant run by chef Olivier Elzer. It is always encouraging when the person you are speaking to knows the menu well enough not to need to check back with the kitchen to be able to explain which dishes are gluten-free or can be amended to be so.
The first time we visited this restaurant, it was on the spur of the moment and the only place they could seat us was side by side on high chairs overlooking the chefs and runners working in the open kitchen. Although, at first, we thought we had drawn the short straw, this turned out not to be so. It was fascinating to see how calm the kitchen was when it was at its busiest.
Even although we are on the cusp of a change in seasons in Hong Kong, Eduardo knew the new dishes well enough to give us recommendations whilst bearing our dietary restrictions in mind. As his suggestions were successful last time, I opted for the artfully presented salad of beetroot and marinated chicken with cheese and frisee salad leaves. It was one of those dishes that looked too lovely to eat.
The last time we were here I also chose a vegetable dish which I have added to this review togive an idea of the range available.
For the second course, we opted to try the chestnut soup which was interestingly presented in warmed Korean rice bowls. Once the temperature plummets this will definitely be a winner with its earthy Christmassy overtones and I am sure a few guests will find themselves, as we did, warming their hands on the bowl. It is an ingenious idea and one I think we might adopt at home if we can find the right tableware to do it.
Although there isn’t a gluten-free menu, one isn’t really needed especially with someone like Eduardo in charge. One very clear indication that they take looking after their gluten- intolerant guests needs seriously is obvious in the charming little ‘loaves’ of bread they serve. Even in other very good restaurants, this level of care isn’t always taken, so they score full marks for that level of effort.
Also, just note how much care is taken in presenting these and how unusual that is. The gluten intolerant will know this is above and beyond. So, from us, a very warm thank you chef Olivier E! As I have said elsewhere, even if you don’t need to avoid gluten, understanding how a restaurant deals with food intolerances over which their guests may have no control at all sets restaurants apart and bodes very well for their standards elsewhere.
Bearing in mind the cooler weather, I chose the roasted lamb rack with carrot and ginger puree. It was served with a sauce on the side. I appreciated the gesture, but as I couldn’t eat the sauce as it contained gluten, inevitably it had to go back to the kitchen. Even without the sauce, the lamb was absolutely delicious. There was just a hint of warming ginger in the carrots and the underlying carrot puree. I imagine the sauce improves it but even without it this is a dish I would happily order again.
The gluten intolerant will know that desserts can be a tricky part of the menu, as it was the on our first visit. As none of those available were gluten-free, the restaurant prepared an attractively presented fruit salad. We didn’t get as far as asking the second time round. Perhaps that is a good reason to add to those to return.
Although this is another restaurant in a shopping centre – you soon get used to this in Hong Kong – it is very well located in an upmarket shopping mall in Causeway Bay. Although it is slightly disconcerting to leave past children’s clothing and toy shops, there is another exit across a roof terrace which perhaps is more appealing.
In any event, you soon realise that what is more important is the attractive ambiance and atmosphere and the fabulous French food and warm welcome that you are likely to receive when you are there.
Seasons, Shop 308, 3/F, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 2505 6228 www.seasonsbyolivier.com