Rating: ★★★★★

Address: 10/F, The L. Place, 139 Queen’s Road, Central 中環皇后大道中139號The L. Place 10樓

Telephone: 2555 9100

http://laltro.hk/

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香港有不少米芝蓮一星的西餐廳,有一部分的餐廳食物水準不錯,環境舒適,但除此之外沒有甚麼特別。L’altro 是我覺得比較特出的一星意大利餐廳,除了法國籍大廚Philippe Leveille在準備意大利菜時混合了法國菜煮法之外,最有驚喜的是自製的意大利雪糕山 – 它名副其實是一座山,雪糕香甜軟滑,淋上濃郁的朱古力醬,令人一吃難忘!

There are many Michelin one-starred restaurants in Hong Kong, and for some of them, while the food is tasty and the decor is plush, you won’t leave with a feeling that you have had an extraordinary dining experience. Fortunately, L’altro isn’t one of them. L’altro was opened in September 2012 in The L. Place by French chef Philippe Leveille, who also helms a Michelin two-starred restaurant, Miramonti l’altro, in Brescia, Italy. “L’altro” means “the other” in Italian, as chef Philippe wants to bring us a unique establishment serving Italian dishes that have drawn in French culinary techniques. In addition to the unusual French touch, what impresses diners the most is an awesome Gelato Miramonti, which makes everyone feel like a kid again.

The interior of the restaurant is clean, elegant and understated – in grey and white tones, the spacious dining room is furnished in marble, stainless steel, mirrors and Murano glass. Many people find the interior a too bit cold and steely, especially for an intimate dinner, but when I went for lunch sitting by the windows on a sunny afternoon, this minimalistic design formed a nice contrast with the bustling street views of Central. There is a small, cosy bar area with an extensive wine selection, serving drinks and aperitivos daily from 5:30pm to 7pm

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The staff at the restaurant were knowledgeable and convivial. I was informed that chef Philippe would be stationining at his Hong Kong restaurant for around 2-3 weeks every 2 months, and a “Philippe Leveille Menu” at HK$1,388 per person would be available whenever he is here. We ordered a 3–course lunch set at HK$298, which is not pricey at all for a fine meal at a restaurant with such an impressive pedigree..

The food was overall delectable and refined, but an aspect that could be improved was the slow service, as each dish took around 20-30 minutes to arrive. Note, though, so I don’t know whether the food is just as good when he isn’t there. The restaurant was not full at all when I went for lunch – I was surprised that this sophisticated establishment was not getting the popularity it deserved!

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I really liked the olive bread (left) in the bread basket, as the green olives added a fragrant, refreshing touch.

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(1) The taste of the Shrimps bon bon with cumin, cauliflower cream with mandarin flavour matched its beautiful presentation. The shrimps were delicately fried and had a lovely, complex texture, and the light, subtle taste of the cauliflower cream was wonderfully complementary.

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(2) The only dish that didn’t fare so well at our meal was the Crispy mille-feuille, wagyu tartare and ricotta with mediterranean flavours (additional $48). The taste of the wagyu beef, perhaps masked by the ricotta cheese, didn’t shine through, and tasted rather bland and uninspiring. The mille-feuille was also way too thin to help break up the smooth textures of the beef.

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(3) I ordered the Risotto of the day – a seafood risotto, and I loved every spoonful of it. Excellently al dente, the risotto was packed with vibrant flavours of the sea, and the squids and lobster were startlingly fresh.

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(4) The Linguine with sauteed lemon baby squid, olive oil spinach cream and lemongrass was another accomplished dish. The linguine had a perfect consistency, and the baby squids were appealingly chewy and flavour-packed. The spinach cream and lemongrass sauce had a commendable balance – it was rich and enticing, without overwhelming the natural flavours of the squid.

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(5) The Miramonti ice cream was the dessert that all my friends were raving about! Using a simple, traditional (and secret) recipe of milk, egg and custard, this gelato had less air in it than ice cream and was therefore much creamier and smoother. Ceremonially presented as a mountain on a giant platter, it was meticulously served into delicate glasses by our waitress. This was a portion for 2 persons, so if you have a bigger party your gelato will be proportionally bigger!

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The ice cream was delicious beyond words – creamy and full of milky flavour, it was a sublime way to end our meal. We were given a hot 75% chocolate sauce to pour on our ice cream, which quickly formed a soft shell; the hint of bitterness from the cocoa was a gorgeous match with the ice cream’s seductive sweetness.

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(6) The marvellous dessert was followed by a complimentary coffee/tea, and I ordered a Latte, which was very aromatic.

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Conclusion: Even though most aspects of our meal at L’altro seemed like typical fine dining fare, the homemade Gelato Miramonti lived up to expectations and provided our already exceptional meal with a bonus wow-factor.