Friday, 18 December 2015

Mercedes Me - Luxury showroom and fine dining restaurant?

As far as luxury brands go, Mercedes is one of the most enduring and well known brands on the planet, especially if you're a car nut.  I've always been more of a Beemer guy and BMW is my luxury car of choice.  But the world of luxury car brands is a competitive beast, and many of the well known brands are looking to expand their base with more accessible entry level cars.  It seems that Mercedes is taking another approach to help their luxury brand become a little more accessible with the introduction of the Mercedes Me concept.

Partnering up with Maximal Concepts in Hong Kong, the crew that run Mott 32 (see post here) and Blue Butcher (see post here), Mercedes Me is one of the first concepts stores that blends a Mercedes showroom with a full restaurant.   Located very conveniently in the Entertainment Building in Central (underneath HMV), the restaurant slash showroom is noticeable with a stylised logo that is both serious and whimsical at the same time...  Oh, and don't forget the flashy Mercedes vehicle that on the night of our visit was the safety car from Formula 1 Grand Prix.

I'd been keen to get into the restaurant for a while, and had been stymied by trying to book in on a Friday and Saturday night, it seemed that Mercedes Me was doing well enough that you couldn't book a decent time on a popular night.  As it turned out, we were able to secure a table as a 'walk in' early on a Sunday night, which suited me just fine.  Not knowing what to expect from a restaurant in a car showroom, I was impressed with the fit out.  I shouldn't have been surprised by the lux fit out that combined a very modern restaurant with a homage to one of the most recognisable car manufacturers on the planet.

Mercedes Me takes a very creative approach to food.  Executive chef Edgar Sanuy has created a menu that is a melting pot of cuisines from regions such as Japan, Latin America and Spain to create a menu that is designed to share. Sections are labeled 'Raw' 'Cold' 'Hot' and 'Grill', which covers a pretty wide variety of delectable looking options.  With so many great looking choices, we knew that we'd have to come back for multiple visits before we'd be happy.  

Starting with the 36 month, 100% acorn fed Iberico Jamon, we were immediately impressed with the generous serving of the Spanish delicacy.  Served on an interesting looking plate that reminded of bitumen from the street outside, the Jamon was served with a tomato salsa and little toasties (which were replaced by the eagle eyed staff when we ran out).  It was a case of beautiful food, served very simply and the salty ham was delightful, especially when combined with the sweet tomato salsa.

Our next choice was the sustainable blue fin tuna with cucumber and bathed in a wonderful ponzu sauce.  I loved that Chef Sanuy had opted for the sustainable blue fin tuna, which was in alignment with his philosophy of great fresh produce.  The large squares of tuna had been marinated the ponzu sauce and were lovely and fresh, each square an explosion of flavour. Freshness came from the  cucumber and sweet avocado pieces and there was a little bite from the Spanish onion garnish that sat atop.  We quickly devoured the tuna and then wished we had a spoon to finish of the ponzu sauce that was left in the bowl.

There was something not quite right with our next dish of organic 100% grass fed steak tartare with pickled egg yolk and fifteen secret ingredients.  It was hard to put my finger on at first, I mean the dish looked beautiful with splashes of colour from the pickled egg yolk, contrasted against the red of the beef.  Crisp tuile completed the look, poking out of the beef tartare to give a very modern take on the classic French dish.  There was also nothing wrong with the sweet tartare, that was clearly for high quality beef.  No, it was something subtle, but very important.  There was no real bite to the dish, it just tasted very sweet and needed some contrasting punch, I think something like pickled gherkin would have made all the difference.  Maybe there should be sixteen secret ingredients?

We were back on the right track with the Southern Pacific scallops, served with bitter orange, baby shiso, apple and yuzu-jalapeno.  It continued the trend of beautiful looking dishes and was served with the scallops sliced very thin and served raw.  There was a hint of colour from the yuzu-jalapeno sauce that thankfully didn't pack too much of a punch and worked wonderfully with the delicate flavours of the scallop.  

By far my favourite dish of the night was the quintessentially Spanish dish of octopus with potato foam sprinkled with paprika and then finished off with puffed pork skin.  I particularly loved the thick tentacles that were expertly cooked to just the right texture and had a wonderfully sweet flavour that was enhanced by the paprika.  The potato foam was as light as air and almost dissolved as it touched the palate.  But, who could overlook the puffed pork skin, little light bubbles of the best pork crackling ever, it was a delightful dish.  Even the girl, who's not normally a fan of octopus thought it was a good dish.

While there is a literal plethora of savoury dishes on the Mercedes Me menu, there were only two desserts on offer, and only one that appealed.  It was easy to choose the caramelised Catalan cream foam with vanilla ice cream, orange pieces and honeycomb.  I mean, really, it just sounds delicious, right?  And it was superb, mostly.  There was a serious amount of the super sweet Catalan cream foam, which to begin with was simply stunning, but as it became clear that there was the proverbial 'bucket load' of the sweet stuff, it overloaded the senses.  There was a little respite from the pieces of peeled orange, but there was nowhere near enough to balance out the dish.  This one either needed less Catalan cream foam (nooo!) or much more of the orange pieces to balance out the sweetness.

I wasn't sure what to expect when checking out Mercedes Me.  I was hoping for a great little meal that had a bit of kitsch factor by being in a Mercedes dealership.  What we found was a beautifully contemporary styled restaurant with food that was treated with respect.  Sure, there were a couple of little hiccups, but they quite possibly had more to do with my palate than anything inherently wrong with the food.

It was very quiet during our Sunday evening dinner, with only a few tables taken up.  This was both good and bad.  Good, because we had excellent and attentive service from the many wait staff on hand (there were more wait staff than diners).  Bad, because I had the feeling that Mercedes Me would have the most amazing vibe when filled with patrons sitting at the bar and tables sharing a meal and lusting over the Mercedes in the showroom.

Now, as I said, I've always been partial to BMWs and had to sell our little Beemer when we moved from Brisbane to Hong Kong.  I'm not going to say that dining in Mercedes Me has changed my mind, but I have been thinking that the new Mercedes AMG A 45 looks quite interesting...

1 comment:

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