Saturday, May 12, 2007

Le French May, the agnès b way

Ah, agnès b, the epitome of French culture, after the Eiffel Tower - in Asia anyway.

The fashion brand has now expanded its business into several florists and a couple of eateries. I guess that's what you call capitalising upon brand equity. The danger in doing that though, as marketing textbooks will tell you, is that one of the new businesses might screw you over if it diverts from the brand's image and personality.

I think in this case, agnès b has done exceptionally well - all these outlets exude class, elegance and a slightly offbeat, disregard for the mainstream artsy element that is basically what the brand is about. Although the cynical amongst us can tell that this is just another way to position oneself in the market.

Anyway, marketing aside - as if I haven't had enough of it already - the food is pretty good. The rule is, stick to the things that can't go too wrong, and you should have a good meal. For example, I've yet to have a good streak when it comes to grilled fish, it's a seemingly 'simple' dish that I usually avoid (my fellow diner did not, and was predictably disappointed - it's one of those times that just makes you want to squeal "I told you so!!" and stick your tongue out.... haha).

There was a special Le French May menu, but their usual menu already offers more than any decision-phobic person would like and they all looked so enticing...

Clockwise from top left: Warm baby artichoke (Le French May menu); Slow-cooked Pyrenées Milk-fed lamb; Salted cod with paprika tomatoes and savoy cabbage.

The baby artichoke was, in my opinion, underseasoned - I could taste olive oil and olive oil. The sprinkle of bacon was a good idea in theory, if only they'd be more crisp in the execution.

I'm a sucker for slow-cooked everything, but this lamb was one of the best things I had (the soufflé - keep reading - would be its closest rival tonight). Tender, flavoursome, moist in most cases - excellent with bread, but the white beans that came along with it, while perfectly fine on their own, were too mushy to create a contrast.

Salted cod - a nice way to make fish when you're noso sure about how juicy you can keep it when frying - IMO, anyway, because the flesh will be firmer and easier to handle after being kept in a salt crust overnight/ for a few hours. It gets a bit too salty by the end, but it's one the sodium lovers will like, and others too, given a good glass of white.
Desserts: Pure evil - there's a whole freaking page AND a patisserie selection!!
Hazelnut and praline soufflé (crisp on the outside, soft within - as all good soufflés should be... mmm~); Fresh fig, mascarpone, pinenuts on brioche (the brioche was just like any other piece of (dried) bread... oh well)

If it's a proper sit-down dinner you're after, remember to book a table in the dining room inside - otherwise you'd be in a cafe-like atmosphere - which is nice, but not always appropriate.

And by the way, don't expect too much from the service - it's awkward and a little try-hard - how many times have I ranted about the service in Hong Kong again?

agnès b le pain grillé
Shop 1 & 2A
2-4 Kingston Street
Fashion Walk
Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 577 0370