Rating: ★★★★☆

Address:  G/F, 65 Wyndham Street, Central 中環雲咸街65號地下

Telephone: 2537 5702

Located amongst an array of bars and clubs on Wyndham street is one of my favourite French bistros in Hong Kong, Pastis Bistro Francais. Sitting on a slightly uncomfortable stool and sipping a café au lait, sometimes I simply forget that I am still in Hong Kong. Every time I visit Pastis for a meal, at least a third to half of its clients are Frenchmen. Perhaps the only thing that is not so French about the place is the owner, who is way more friendly and welcoming than his counterparts in Paris!

Bistro by day and bar by night, I believe most of you might remember Pastis as a place that is completely swamped by bar-goers in the weekend evenings. Pastis offers a great-value set lunch which is priced at $98 for 2 courses and $115 for 3 courses. However, perhaps due to budgetary constraints, the ingredients used for the set lunch menu were much less refined than those used for its à la carte dishes. Therefore, despite the price difference, I would still recommend that you order from their à la carte menu.

For appetiser, I had this Roasted Chicken Breast with Avocado & Grapefruit Salad (set lunch). While the portion was not robust with only a few slices of meat, the chicken breast was roasted beautifully and was soft and tender. The grapefruit was refreshingly sweet and not bitter at all, and the avocado added a touch of creaminess to the salad.

Then, I had this Roasted duck breast with ginger, orange sauce (set lunch) for my main course. The duck breast had an appealingly firm texture, but was otherwise bland in taste. The ginger and orange sauce was delightfully sweet, but the ginger taste did not stand out, and the accompanying vegetables were a bit overcooked.

Since I am always in the mood for tartares, I love ordering this Traditional Steak Tartare served with Green Salad ($108, 90g) from the à la carte menu, as it is truly fantastic! The steak tartare was impressively fresh and the seasoning was magnificent, with a combination of tastes from the capers, shallots, garlic, egg yolk and Dijon mustardPastis always has this spot-on!

Another accomplished item on the à la carte menu is the Pork Sausages served with Mashed Potato & French Lentils ($145), which never fails to impress us. The pork sausages had marvellous flavours and a fantastic crunch; the texture of the lentils were just right and they also absorbed all the wonderful flavours from the sausages. Also see the lentils served with pork belly at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (London) – the French really are experts when it comes to cooking lentils!

The dessert for the set lunch was an adorable crème caramel, which was amazingly smooth and sticky but not cloying. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and I was really thrilled to see the fresh vanilla beans at the bottom of the crème caramel. The syrup was watery but aromatic, and the berries were nice and sweet.

Our meal cheerfully ended with this café au lait with a cute smiley face, which not only looked pretty but tasted good too!

Conclusion: What more can you ask for, when you have a croque-madame in one hand and a café au lait in the other?