Café Gray Deluxe (Lunch Set)

Café Gray Deluxe (Lunch Set)

Where:
Café Gray Deluxe (lolzzz, the website comes with a sound track of clinking cutlery and the happy sounds of punters in their restaurant. So fucking atmospheric!)
The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway
Admiralty, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3968 1106

Price:
Three course lunch set costs HKD395 (+10% service charge).

The deal:
Café Gray Deluxe is one of those places that you rattle off as a place to take someone, inevitably a first time visitor to HK, when you want a restaurant that has a view.  Which should set off the alarm bells because imma gonna get all religious on yo ass for a second and tell you that the Restaurant Gods do not generally give out the good shit with both hands, meaning you tend to either get a fuck yeah view or you get fuck yeah food but it’s rare to get a good serve of both. Some restaurants are even unluckier and don’t get any sort of handout at all, bombing out on all counts.

Café Gray certainly ticks the fancy box and got its hand out of fuck yeah views in spades.  After getting delivered to the restaurant by kilometres of upwards escalators which take you past swirly modern art sculptures, you walk across the bridge into the AFSO designed dining room which is surrounded by fuck yeah views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline streams in from all angles through the large surrounding windows.  A fleet of well groomed women with slick backed hair will coo in polite tones, asking for your name before you’re swiftly taken to your table.  The staff at Café Gray are excellent, killing it from start to finish, all smiles, non-intrusive and always ready to assist in any way you could require.  When all the niceties are said and done, I decide upon what I’m going to have for lunch, opting for the set lunch menu because otherwise shit gets pricey fast with starters ranging from HKD145-HKD310 and mains clocking in at HKD385-HKD595.

Chef Gray Kunz’ blurb on Cafe Gray promises modern European classics with influences from his time in Asia.  You can definitely tell it’s doing modern because there’s no linen tablecloths.  However, Cafe Gray did provide the thinnest, most bullshit linen napkin I’ve encountered to date in Hong Kong.  My napkin was like a sad, old wrinkly ballsack, clearly having spent zero time in contact with an iron and also suffered the indignity of being so threadbare and worn out that it actually had a sizeable hole in it. This seems like fuck no poor form for a restaurant that’s comfortable with charging its patrons mains that start at HKD385.

For entree, I ordered the salmon tartare, which didn’t seem to be anything too revolutionary on the menu and didn’t fail to surprise when it arrived.  I was struck with how perfectly down the middle of average this dish was.  The tartare was raw salmon combined with avocado and served on top of a crispy rice wafer, with all of this surrounded by a sea of pomelo sacs.  I get what this dish was meant to achieve, the raw salmon should have been complemented by the creamy avocado, with the crispy rice wafer providing some textural contrast and the pomelo should have been the acid to cut through the salmon to provide a fresh, bright note to the dish.  However, the salmon was cut too finely, meaning it was almost textureless and the tartare itself wasn’t seasoned enough, to the point of being bland.  This flat salmony mess was further exacerbated by the pomelo lacking the intensity in flavour to provide the fresh, citrus counterpoint against the salmon.  It felt like the kitchen should have nixed this dish or reimagined it after they’d tasted the substandard bland-ass pomelo they’d been provided with.

For main, I had the veal meatloaf “Wallenberg”.  Cafe Gray’s meatloaf is a take on the classical Swedish dish, Wallenbergare – which are fancy ass burger patties named after some ballin’ rich as fuck Swedish family.  Wallenbergare is a breaded patty made with veal and cream, often served with small green peas and lingonberry jam.  Cafe Gray’s fancy ass meatloaf follows this serving suggestion with artistic splashes of red lingonberry sauce and small, bright green peas carefully dotted around the plate.  Despite my scepticism about having fine dining meatloaf, it was fuck yeah veal times and the lingonberry sauce was a sweet though tart affair which cut through the rich veal mince.

Dessert was a caramelised white peach served with chamomile and honey, and a scoop of milk tea ice-cream.  Oh yes, there’s that really fucking obvious reference by a chef who is clearly a well travelled culinary nomad, proving that shit by making a local reference to a classic HK drink.  The ice-cream definitely had that milk tea feel to it, but I don’t know if that’s a real feat of culinary achievement given that it’s just gotta reference some sweet black tea and a bit of evaporated milk to replicate that milk tea feeling.  Despite the ice-cream, this dish was entirely forgettable and didn’t elicit any strong feelings at all, except a dull ache of being a bit bored by it all.  I just really don’t give a fuck if there’s chamomile infused honey, I can’t get that fucking excited about cubes of warm, slightly mushy peach masquerading to be some sort of a fancy dessert just because it’s served in purposeful stacks with an ice-cream quenelle hanging about on the side.

timgunnlacklustre

To round off the meal, you’ll get some rough hewn chunks of milk and dark chocolate, which is a nice fucking closing touch.  The black Americano that I ordered was fucking excellent too, which is always a surprise on the upside because I always expect the worst from hotel associated restaurants when it comes to post-meal coffee.

My biggest issue with Café Gray is that its food doesn’t match the restaurant that it wants to be, or at least what its prices say it should be.  When you are charging those prices, your food should be fucking memorable and if you were to recommend it, you should have a handful of dishes that you thought were fucking unreal and your homies would be fucking stupid if they didn’t take your recommendations on board.  Sure, the service and the ambience of Café Gray is a fuck yeah and when you take your parents here or someone who hasn’t been to HK before, they’re gonna get dazzled by the view and interiors and think it’s a fucking incredible restaurant.  It’s the sort of restaurant that some fresh faced kid who doesn’t know any better would take his girlfriend on a Big Date, because he’s heard it’s got a view and it’s pricey so it must be good. But it’s always the small details that move a restaurant from being serviceably satisfactory to a major fuck yeah which can justify a large price tag.  Café Gray definitely fucks this up, clearly not having that eye for detail to elevate itself to the next level, which shows itself in crinkled, holey napkins and dishes that leave no memorable mark on your psyche.  I just imagine whoever’s running Café Gray taking a look outside their windows at the fuck yeah view, ordering some expensive martini and then just dialling the rest in, because why bother trying that hard with the food if people don’t mind paying for the privilege of the view?

Verdict:
Fuck no, because this is one of those adequate meals which is no big deal if someone else that you don’t care for is paying but if it was your own hard earned bucks, you’d be very underwhelmed at what you’d just paid for.

No Comments

Fuck yeah or fuck no?

%d bloggers like this: