Clarence is the brainchild of Chef Olivier Elzer of the two-star Michelin restaurant L’Envol. The restaurant popularised the term “yakifrenchy” (essentially French specialities served on a skewer) and has recently launched a monthly special menu, with the March one dedicated to his Alsatian roots.
A Review of Clarence
“Four hands” collaborations have become quite common in Hong Kong, especially with the borders opening, and chef Olivier Elzer has done it like a filial son and brought in the big gun for his Four Hands Alsace Menu for March – his mum, Dorothée Elzer.
We have to admit we were most curious when we heard it was to be the elder Mrs Elzer and eagerly agreed to lunch. I was not disappointed. Upon exiting the lifts, I could see a pair of what looked like Mickey Mouse ears over the dividers. “That’s my mum,” Chef Elzer tells me.
The “ears” turned out to be just the tip of the full traditional Alsatian costume Mrs Elzer wore to greet us and somehow, it transported us all magically near the German border in eastern France. It was a feeling that only intensified as course after course from the two generations of Elzers arrived at our table.
You can have a choice of a four-course ($988) or seven-course ($1,488) for the Alsace menu, with a four-glass ($688) or six-glass ($988) wine pairing of special wines from around the region. This menu will be available until March 31, but Clarence’s normal menus will also be available.
We started with a Mama Elzer special, Le Foie Gras d’Oie, a terrine of goose foie gras with Gewürztraminer jelly and black truffle. I’m not normally a big fan of foie gras in terrine form but the goose version was much smoother and went very well with the fluffly kouglof, an Alsatian brioche.
This was followed by chef Elzer’s pork beer soup with spätzle and roasted knuckle. The combination of textures of the latter two coupled with the rich broth was heart-warming and exceedingly satisfying. The pike quenelle that came next with crémant d’Alsace sauce and a generous dollop of caviar was soft and malleable, almost melting in the mouth.
The icy plum granita with poached grape was a great palate cleanser before the hero of the lunch made an appearance. The Le Baeckeoffe, a traditional casserole of pork, beef, lamb, potato, leek and black truffle was reinvented with a puff pastry. The meat was full of flavours having been steeped in the rich sauce and the pastry was perfect to clean the bowl with!
The Alsace farmed Munster cheese crispy with horseradish and crunchy lettuce was an absolute delight. The thin slice of Munster cheese was fried to perfect crispiness that was enhanced by the crunchiness of the lettuce drenched in horseradish.
We ended the meal with another Mama Elzer special, Le Cheesecake. It was truly the lightest cheesecake I have ever tasted, in weight and richness but certainly not in flavour. Served with a spoonful of light cream, it was a soothing end to great afternoon in Alsace. And this may be your only chance to try it because not even Chef Elzer has the recipe.
L’Amer Bière – Pork Beer Soup / Spätzle / Roasted Knuckle
Le Baeckeoffe – Traditional Baeckeoffe / Pork / Beef / Lamb / Potato / Leek / Black Truffle
Le Munster des frères Marchand – Alsace Farmed Munster Cheese Crispy / Horseradish / Crunchy Lettuce
The biggest thrill is getting to meet Mama Elzer in full traditional Alsatian costume and to see the chef reduced to a nervous and excited schoolboy in front of his mother. The chemistry between the two is obvious and it has translated into the excellent dishes that were presented. The unique Alsatian wine labels such as Josmeyer and Charles Frey were well paired with the cuisine and we even had the chance to try an Alsatian beer in Chef’s Olivier personal collection of beer mugs. In all, it was a great introduction to Alsace.
Price for two:
$2,976+ for seven-course dinner
25/F H Code, 45 Pottinger Street,
Central, Hong Kong
Mondays – Saturdays
Lunch 12nn – 4pm
Dinner 6pm – 10pm