Rating: ★★★★☆

Address: 38 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town, Western District 西環堅尼地城科士街38號

Telephone: 2855 0810

www.facebook.com/picniconforbes/

Following the success of Upper Modern Bistro and ON Dining, Chef Philippe Orrico recently opened his third restaurant in the up-and-coming dining destination in Kennedy Town. PICNIC on Forbes embodies a casual weekend dining concept, serving a selection of down-to-earth French dishes.

The ambience of the restaurant is laid-back and inviting. The cocktail bar, dining area and open kitchen meld into an open area, with wooden furnishings and brown and green tones resembling the environment of a picnic in the park.

Apart from Chef Philippe who came from Pierre at Mandarin Oriental, the dining group also boasts other renowned figures in the F&B industry. Jeremy Evrard, the cheese expert who is renowned for his excellent work at Caprice at Four Seasons Hotel, has joined the dining group a while ago, which explains why the cheeses are exquisite at ON Dining and PICNIC. Wine expert Nicolas Deneux creates the global wine menu for the restaurant, while mixology master Giancarlo Mancino designed the signature cocktail list.

I have commented in my previous blog posts that I often find the hospitality at Hong Kong restaurants very mediocre – in the restaurants’ defence, the turnover of catering staff is very high in Hong Kong, which makes it difficult for them to offer proper training – but PICNIC is definitely an exception to the rule. When I was deciding what to order from the menu, I started casually chatting with the waitress and was utterly surprised by the waitress’ encyclopaedic knowledge about each dish on the menu as well as French cuisine in general. Also, while most restaurants in Hong Kong are slightly understaffed which results in slow service, the service is efficient and flawless during our visit.  Only towards the end of the the meal did our kind waitress finally reveal that she used to work a Michelin 3-starred restaurant in Hong Kong, and that a number of waiters and waitresses have also left their hotel catering jobs to join Chef Philippe’s group as they share his culinary visions!

IMG_8861_2

(1) I decide to order “Vermouth in the fall” ($128), as I have never tried a cocktail with black truffle in it before. The taste of black truffle, matched by a hint of honey, is deliciously subtle and refreshing, but I wish the cocktail is sweeter.

IMG_8872_2

(2) We order the PICNIC Complete ($688), which includes a PICNIC basket, cold cuts and cheeses, half chicken and desserts. There are only 2 of us at dinner and there is way too much food for us – I think this can be shared amongst 3-4 people!

Thanks to Jeremy (as mentioned above), the cheeses here are absolutely amazing, and I particularly adore the Comté cheese which has a delicious nutty flavour. The cold cuts are delectable too – we enjoy each of the 48- month Iberico ham, 24-month Parma ham, blood sausage and chorizo.

IMG_8876_2

There are many fascinating dishes in the PICNIC basket. The pork rillette is expertly done and very satisfying, the bacon with mushroom custard is attractively light and creamy, and the blended cauliflower with smoked salmon is nicely balance. For something lighter, the quinoa and feta cheese salad and radish dipped in squid ink are also very tasty.

IMG_8887_2

The foie gras and smoked eel mousse is rich and creamy, with a pleasant hint of sweetness.

IMG_8881_2

The flavour of the green pea soup with milk and mint is well adjusted, even though the weather is too chilly for me to enjoy this cold soup.

IMG_8884_2 

(3) After taking some time to try out all items in the PICNIC basket, the roast free range French chicken is served, and it does not disappoint. The chicken meat is unbelievably tender and moist, and is definitely one of the best roast chickens I have had this year!

IMG_8916_2

We order a cauliflower mousseline ($78) to go with the chicken, and this completely blows my mind. It is wonderfully smooth, airy and buttery, and a bit of orange and roasted hazelnuts turn this into the perfect side dish.

IMG_8897_2

(4) Our desserts arrive in adorable little glass jars, and each of them is well executed and absolutely delectable. The chocolate mousse is creamy with a fine cocoa taste, the rock melon mousse is refreshing and delectable and the candied pine nuts are simply addictive.

IMG_8900_2   IMG_8907_2 

I am very pleased to discover a restaurant that offers such impeccable service and deletable casual French dishes. My only complaint is that there are too many cold appetisers in the PICNIC basket for this weather, but otherwise, I cannot find any reason not to recommend this amazing gem!