Afterthoughts – French Home-Cooking at Les Fils a Maman
Perhaps I’m unreasonably biased, but I find most things French to be incredibly enchante, that is, MOST things aside from the blatant smoking in all public places, the endless complaining about all of life’s inconveniences, and the notorious workplace strikes that have become, somewhat, a national hobby. Aside from all the above, the French are rather, dare I say, a charming crowd.
On a weekday not so long ago, we decided to tuck into Les Fils a Maman, for a quiet evening amongst friends. Les Fils a Maman is part of the recent revolution of small, bistro-like French diners that have sprouted up all around Hong Kong Island. The mantra here is home-cooked French comfort food, something “maman” would whip up in her Le Creuset. The restaurant is rather secretly located, along a tiny side alley off Hollywood Road. The owners are a clan of French boys who’ve each found their way to Hong Kong, and began this restaurant as a dedication to their mothers’ wholesome home-cooking. The decor is quirky with a strong taste of what childhood for inquisitive boys would have been like in France back in the early 80s.
(Below) Picture collages of the owners.
A map just to remind us of where France is.
We were seated in a cozy nook in the quirky little diner.
I love these stacks of adventure books.
Ready to Eat!
The menu here is small, with a feature on daily specials (which I really appreciate). We decided on sharing an assiette de charcuterie Francaise, comprised of various cold cuts, pickles, terrine and rillette. We loved the variety and it was a great starter to the meal.
Not wanting to be a lonely glutton, I got everyone to share in my order of croquettes de babybel pane. The golden crust was crunchy, and the molten cheese inside piping hot. This was a great dish, although a no-brainer since who can say no to fried cheese?
The fried cheese croquettes came in a charming little glass jar.
Moving on to the mains! I am a sucker for daily blackboard specials, because I always feel that they are much more personal than written menus. Hence, I went along with the blackboard meat special – a duck braised with fennel and cherries, accompanied by rustic roasted potatoes. The duck was delicious enough, although a bit overpoweringly sweet due to the cherries. I felt the thick layer of duck skin and fat a tad off-putting, as it had a rubbery texture due to the braising, and wasn’t worth the 20km I would have had to run in order to burn off the calories. The fennel though, was a nice surprise, as it fully soaked up the flavours of the duck and cherries.
One of our friends ordered the fish and chips, served alongside a sweet potato mash. I always think it’s rather funny to have fish and chips in a French restaurant. She enjoyed it enough, but didn’t think it was anything spectacular. The batter was crunchy, but rather thick.
The star of the evening was, ironically, the unassuming burger. Well, to be fair, it is named “The Mega Burger” with a choice of blue cheese or Emmental. Our friend went full throttle and ordered the blue cheese option along with a fried egg and bacon. It was a beast of a burger, and arrived beside a giant mountain of fries. The burger was so packed that our friend had to almost unlock his jaw in order to take a full bite. His remark? Best burger he’s ever had, and this is from an English lad who’s had his share of burgers. The fries, sadly, did not measure up to the burger, and were overly salted.
A little ceramic mustard jar – how charming!
After wolfing down all that hearty French fair, we came to dessert. We couldn’t decide, so we chose a trio platter along with an espresso. What can we say? The only thing that was palatable was the espresso. The fruit medley was soggy and sour, and we wondered how this could even make it onto the menu. The chocolate cake was dry and tasted like yesterday’s baking, and the lemon curd was Super Lemon sour and also tasted like leftovers from the previous night. To say we were unimpressed, would be an understatement.
Our dismal dessert experience was semi-uplifted by the arrival of a glass jar of kiddie gummy candies with the cheque. Eating gummy worms and fizzy coca cola bottles brought me back to those playground days.
Verdict: Good effort, but greater effort needed. The ambiance and decor are quirky and fun, and this would be a cozy hangout place. The staff are friendly and service was attentive. However, menu items are a hit or miss, and not to offend anyone’s mothers, but some recipes need more tweaking to make this a memorable dining experience. However, I wouldn’t sideline this place, and I am keen to return to try this mega burger our friend was raving about.
Les Fils a Maman
75 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: 2571 0045