[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Kitchen at Bacchanalia is a cosy 36-seater with one show table in a prime spot near the floor-to-ceiling glass frontage – for the beautiful people, probably. Australian-born head chef Luke Armstrong, who’s worked at Michelin-star restaurants Pied a Terre and The Ledbury in London, and Oud Sluis in The Netherlands, may be newly arrived but he’s already putting his touch on Bacchanalia’s modern European menus.
We were there on a rainy day for a Working Lunch (as Bacchanalia’s midday menu is called). There is the option to choose two or three courses from the selection, or opt for the Chef’s Tasting. To kick off the meal, two complimentary amuse-bouches were served: beef tartare on brioche and a shot of warm white asparagus soup. They certainly raised our anticipation of the meal to come.
Of the two appetisers, the Shizuoka fruit tomato was a pretty dish with its vivid colours of red and green. We found it refreshing because of the sweetness of the tomato contrasting with the slight tartness of the tomato pearls vinaigrette; the quinoa grounded the dish with its earthiness. The braised short rib main course served in its roasting juices with roasted king oyster mushroom, kohlrabi and fresh wasabi was tender and intense in flavour, while the pan-roasted grouper fillet was perfectly cooked and set off well by the pickled pumpkin, toasted kabocha (a type of winter squash) puree, lentil falafel and a light vermouth sauce.
The dessert of Gariguette Strawberry Breton – a French butter biscuit with a yuzu mousseline, topped with strawberries and a scoop of strawberry sorbet – was a nice and balanced end to what was a great lunch.
The talk about diners being in the middle of the action at Bacchanalia is not really accurate though; for one, the cooking action is confined to the kitchen island and not surrounding the diners, most of whom would not have the kitchen in their line of sight anyway.
THE KITCHEN AT BACCHANALIA
39 Hongkong Street, S(059678)