Suddenly released from a two-month long period of involuntary puritanical living (and about a stone lighter), it seemed only right to celebrate my new found lifestyle freedom with a bit of a splurge. My friend C.L. kindly stepped up to the challenge of finding a suitable venue - without necessarily realising she was doing so - and organised a chilled Saturday lunch at Cafe Gray in the Upper House for a couple of old school-friends. It was a good choice.
The decor is tasteful and smart, without being too bland, and the view over the harbour is great. Like Felix, the toilets share in this great view - well, at least, the sinks in the ladies do. I know you shouldn't judge a restaurant by the toilets but decent, well-designed bathrooms are one of my weak-spots ... well, as long as they are matched by decent, well-designed food...
It's not a cheap experience dining at Cafe Gray, sorry, Cafe Gray Deluxe, but we did come away from the HK$245 set two-course lunch feeling full and satisfied. School, despite its best efforts, failed to instill a sense of timing or direction into any of us and so it took quite a period of time for the table to be complete. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you view your waistband, there was no shortage of warm bread and warm bread refills on hand to see us through. And, despite the rather over-aggressive lady on the phone when we booked a table who was insistent that we had to be there at 12.30 because the table was required for afternoon tea at 2pm, we weren't hurried or hassled at all during our lengthy dining experience.
I started with a main course of red snapper with mussels and clams which was delightful, the fish beautifully cooked. There is actually no other word to describe it than "delightful" because it was one of those really delicate dishes with delicate flavours. I did get mild food envy when I saw my friend's roast turkey with sauerkraut but was pleased with my choice. For pudding, I opted for the rather over-sweet apple and cinnamon crumble with cider ice-cream. It was really good but I couldn't finish it due to a combination of excess sweetness and the fact that the cider ice-cream was a little limited in portion size - it was the sort of dish where, had you been at home, you'd have slapped on a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream to calm it down a bit. Included in the set-lunch price were coffees and a bowl of smashed-up chocolate which didn't stand a chance surrounded as it was by six women.
We had a really great lunch - we weren't rushed, service was great and the food was good. I'd be interested to try it for dinner although, while not exactly a scientific study, T.T.L., who was accidentally on her third visit to Cafe Gray in as many days, felt that the lunchtime dining experience was actually better than the evening ones. I suggested it might be the company that did it but rather cheekily she suggested otherwise....
Cafe Gray Deluxe
The Upper House