Editor's note: since this review the head chef has changed - it is now Fabrice Vulin in charge.
The Caprice restaurant is on the 6th floor of the Four Seasons hotel, with a fine view over Hong Kong harbour. There is an open kitchen, with a large team of chefs beavering away in full view of the dining room. The room is large and tables are generously spaced, with everything well appointed, such as the Limoges crockery.
The wine list is a major event in itself with just under 1,000 separate bins available from every corner of the world. Unfortunately the mark-ups were high, even by hotel standards. Examples were Kanonkopf Pinotage 2004 at HK$ 550 for a wine costing around HK$ 165 in the shops, Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2006 at a heavy price of HK$ 1,620 for a wine you can get hold of for about HK$ 300 retail, Antinori Tignanello 2005 at HK$ 2,200 for a wine which costs about HK$ 530, and Jermann Dreams at a steep HK$ 1,580 against a retail price of around HK$ 300 or so.
The team is pretty much transplanted from Cinq in Paris, with head chef (Vincent Thierry), front of house manager (Jeremy), pastry chef and a sommelier all having worked at Cinq in its glory 3 star days under Philippe Legendre. This was not apparent with the nibbles, which I later discovered were not directly dealt with by the head chef (one might ask why not). A poached quail egg with panacotta with black truffle jus was pleasant but the jus was a little grainy (15/20) while a shellfish samosa and bean puree was under-seasoned and had slightly soggy pastry (14/20). After this lacklustre start I was therefore pretty surprised, not to say stunned, by the food that subsequently appeared.
The bread is made from scratch here and included excellent baguette, brown rolls and superb olive rolls (18/20 for the latter) served with Brittany butter. Langoustine ravioli reminded me of a similar dish at Cinq, with a beautifully flavoured Brittany langoustine, feather-light pasta, girolle mushrooms, little veal sweetbreads and a fine, aromatic shellfish sauce. This was a delight, the langoustine perfectly cooked, the girolles bring a little earthiness, the sweetbreads adding a further but complimentary taste dimension. This was a stunning dish (19/20).
A black truffle and artichoke tart was not quite in this league but was still a fine dish, prettily presented with an aged Parmesan emulsion. The striking thing about this dish was the depth of flavour, both of the artichoke and the Parmesan emulsion, the truffles just adding a hint of their delicate aroma (17/20). Next for me was a dazzling Challans duck fillet with buttered Savoy cabbage and foie gras, with a rich sauce made from juices of the duck. On the side was a little dish of Parmentier potatoes, a layer of terrific mash potato concealing more duck meat. The duck was perfectly cooked, as was the foie gras, the flavour again superb, seasoning exact (19/20). John Dory was also a capable dish, a fillet well timed and served with coconut orzu pasta and fruity marinade enlivened with a gently spiced curry sauce; John Dory has robust taste that had no difficulty with these accompaniments (17/20).
I had avoided cheese in Hong Kong until now, when I discovered that the cheese was from Bernard Antony. Not only that, it is delivered weekly and is kept in a specially built, humidity-controlled cabinet. The front of house manager has a genuine passion for cheese, and cares for these as if they were his own children. Every cheese we tried was in perfect condition, from a soft fragrant Colombier, to a ripe Munster, a fine Roquefort and the great four-year aged Comte that only Antony produces (most Comte is aged only up to three years). Once we got to talk about cheese we were offered a tasting of wine: not just one glass, but a taste of separate wine, each chosen to match the individual cheeses that we had selected! A true 20/20 cheese board.
Desserts continued the high standard. A little pre-dessert of profiterole pear with gingerbread ice cream and a salted caramel was lovely, the pear neatly balanced by the other dish elements (19/20). Golden apple dacquoise was offered with a Breton sable biscuit and blueberry mousse, and a dazzling yoghurt sorbet (18/20). Even better was an Arabica coffee dessert with fruit biscotti, Mascarpone and cappuccino ice cream; the depth of coffee flavour in this dessert was a triumph (19/20). Coffee was also of a high standard, served with passion fruit macaroons, assorted chocolates and green apple marshmallow (18/20).
Service was terrific, of the level that can happen in really top French restaurants. I was really taken aback by the standard of cooking after the mediocre nibbles. Dish after dish was of strong two-star and often three star standard. The bill was HK$ 1,500 per person with a moderate wine. Main courses are around HK$ 440-460, starters HK$ 220-430.