Rating: ★★★☆☆

Address: UG/F, 9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central 中環蘭桂坊9號地鋪上層

Telephone: 2186 1816

Epicurean refurbished its LKF restaurant, Il Posto 97, in January this year, turning it from a casual Western eatery into a more upscale restaurant that serves modern Italian cuisine using freshly imported Italian ingredients.

The dining area is beautiful and airy, and the staff were civilised and helpful. Prices are not exorbitant, with lunch costing around $200 and dinner around $300-400 per person. Some dishes were accomplished, but the cuisine overall lacked authenticity.

(1) The Chef’s choice of daily raw bar carpaccio was an octopus carpaccio, which tasted sea-fresh and had a natural and light flavour, and was deliciously immersed in a generous serving of olive oil.

(2) Next up was the Carpaccio di manzo, which was a pepper rubbed beef Carpaccio, topped with honey mustard rocket leaves and drizzled with some lemon aioli. The beef carpaccio and the lemon aioli was an inspired match, and even though the portion was small, the flavours of this dish produced a sharp, delicious contrast.

(3) The Hamburger di manzo, which means “beef hamburger” in Italian (how fancy!), was a deliciously comforting Wagyu beef burger with onion jam, Roman tomato and homemade chutney. The thickness of the patty gave it more of a bite, the Wagyu beef was juicy and full of flavours and the slightly sweet chutney and the onion jam were an attractive match with the beef. However, the grilled pancetta was on the dry side, and confusingly made the hamburger seem like a sandwich.

(4) In case I have been too subtle about it, risottos and pastas are my personal favourites, but this Risotto with roast duck, sauteed mushrooms and Fontina cheese did not get my approval. Both the risotto and the duck were bland, and the risotto was overcooked, making it mushy and a bit porridge-like. Having tried risottos in many restaurants both in Hong Kong and in London, I understand that risottos are sometimes a bit tricky to master (one of the best risottos I have had so far was the one at Michelin two-starred Murano (London); the one at The Pawn (Hong Kong) had a good consistency), but this one was definitely below average.

(5) The Cotoletta di maiale, which means “Pork cutlet” in Italian (according to Google Translate), was a piece of thick, juicy grilled Canadian pork loin perched on some Italian potato salad. The presentation was enticing, and the pork flavours were awesome. What stood out the most for me was the potato salad, which had a punchy vinegar taste and was very appetising.

(6) The Tiramisu iL Posto was the restaurant’s “lighter take on the traditional”. The mascarpone was light and creamy, and the coffee taste was remarkable. It was a good thing that the dessert was so scrumptious, as we would otherwise have left the restaurant feeling a little unimpressed!

(7) The Creme bruciata Frangelico (i.e. crème brûlée) was smooth and creamy, and the portion was just right for a lunch time dessert.

(8) The Coppa di cioccolato (i.e. “cup of chocolate”) comprised of an imaginative combination of Chocolate gelato, bacio gelato, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and amaretti. The biscuits provided a perceptible crunch and the variety of textures and flavours tasted nice together, but the dessert was overall a bit too icy.

Conclusion: The modern Italian cuisine at Il Posto 97 was refined, but we needed something more delicious to make the restaurant worth a second visit.