An unexpected intimate gathering

Updated: 2011-03-13 08:00

By Donna Mah (China Daily)

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An unexpected intimate gathering 

Top: The popular lamb Wellington stuffed with duck confit and prosciutto with garlic gravy. Above: Decorated with rich chocolate browns, warm lighting, and little knickknacks placed on ledges and corners, Le Marron presents a cozy environment like home. Provided to China Daily

An unexpected intimate gathering

Hong Kong

It's not the easiest place to find, the French private kitchen Le Marron is on an upper floor of a commercial building in busy Causeway Bay, across the street from Sogo department store.

It's worth the hunt. The narrow lobby and scruffy-looking elevators in this old commercial building do not prepare you for the charming dining room (or rooms) of Le Marron. Decorated using rich chocolate browns, warm lighting, and little knickknacks placed on ledges and corners, it feels like you've entered the very cozy home of a friend in provincial France. The "rooms" are made using sheer-curtain partitions. This allows for a bit of privacy, whether you're dining at a table for two or with a group of 30.

From the rundown lobby entrance to the wobbly elevator ride, dining here feels like an adventure. Exit the elevator on the 12th floor and you feel you have arrived outside someone's home.

It's a feast for the eyes before your stomach has had a chance to get started. There are little toy robots, a little lion, some dried flowers, a slightly battered-looking oil painting of a dining table over a mantelpiece, and various other bits and pieces of interest all over the place. Curious diners are often investigating to see what little treasures have been placed nearby.

The chef at Le Marron is kitchen-veteran Billy Liang. Having worked almost his entire career in the Western kitchens of clubhouses and hotels in Hong Kong, he is well-versed in what makes Hong Kong diners happy. The menu here is changed monthly, but after a few customer complaints when favorite dishes weren't available, the most popular dishes remain constant with some seasonal monthly additions.

To start, I shared the Le Marron tasting sampler with a friend and we were treated to mini spring rolls, sauteed shrimps, scallops with a fresh mango salsa, and escargot baked in puff pastry (my personal favorite). This was followed by the deluxe seafood ice mountain (changes seasonally) with fresh oysters, clams, lobster, crab, whelks and shrimps, to name but a few of the delectable shellfish on offer.

One of the most popular dishes is the lamb Wellington stuffed with duck confit and prosciutto with garlic gravy. It is made fresh when ordered and cooked beautifully. The rich puff pastry and the lean lamb meat are a wonderful match, and the portion is of a good size, too.

According to Alexandra Mount, who assists with the marketing at Le Marron, her perfect meal there would be: baked burgundy escargot with garlic parsley butter, a classic French dish that's full of flavor; baked French onion soup, a very time-consuming dish to prepare cooked the traditional way; and the lamb Wellington. Yum!

Crme brulee or the Grand Marnier hot souffle are popular dessert choices - and this month, there is even a flaming baked Alaska. You can bring your own wine (no corkage charge) or choose from Le Marron's wine list. There is an outdoor balcony area for a pre-dinner drink, or for smokers to get some air. The minimum charge per person is HK$320 ($41). Reservations are recommended, highly recommended on the weekends.

For China Daily

(China Daily 03/13/2011 page13)


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