Fans of Le Bistro Winebeast should check out A.O.C eat & drink in Wan Chai. Head Chef Stephane Guillas draws on regional French food to deliver a memorable gastronomic experience.
This cosy bar and eatery has the feel of a quaint French café but with a cosmopolitan vibe, and it was buzzing when we visited. At one table, an animated family group was speaking in Cantonese; at another, a group of 20-something marketing professionals traded industry gossip in English; there were also two girlfriends sharing birthday cake, and a couple of businessmen grabbing a bite over drinks while seated at the bar.
The menu is presented as a series of small plates and dishes perfect for sharing, and grouped into four themes: Small Bites & Nibbles, From The Sea, Butcher’s Corner and Cheese & Sweets. The A.O.C. in the name stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, a French certification that guarantees the authenticity and origin of agricultural products such as wine, cheese and butter. This quality is a cornerstone of the dishes presented by head chef Stephen Guillas. A simple marinated salmon dish with blinis (HK$78) is easily the best-tasting salmon I’ve eaten in Hong Kong. And the duck foie gras terrine ($88) is a perfect example of how pleasurable a classic, well-executed dish can be.
As a huge fan of Le Bistro Winebeast, I had high hopes for A.O.C., which is part of the same group. I wasn’t disappointed. Highlights included home-made mackerel rillettes ($68), the mackerel an exciting twist on a French food classic. A duck confit ($198) surprised with the addition of a fruit confit to balance the richness of the duck. And, for those who can never decide what to have for dessert, the Café Gourmand offering of five mini-desserts for $88 was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
A.O.C. EAT & DRINK: 15 McGregor Street, Wan Chai
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This article first appeared in the June/July edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!