First look: NEZ Wine Bistro
A fresh take on the French bistro, with a wine list curated by renowned sommelier Victor Petoit
Calling all wine lovers: there’s a new wine bistro in town. A group of F&B veterans, chefs, and wine experts have come together to establish NEZ Wine Bistro at H Code. NEZ takes over the space that was previously home to PIIN, another wine-focused restaurant. While PIIN focused on fine dining, NEZ is slightly more casual.
Recently we went to check out the new space — excited to sample fresh takes on bistro classics designed by a multi-Michelin starred chef (a secret as to who…) and executed by talented Chef de Cuisine Don Wong (previously of the Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental and Seasons by Olivier Elzer) as well as the wine list that has been curated by award-winning sommelier Victor Petoit, currently the Head Sommelier at the Four Seasons Hong Kong.
We started off with the Foie Gras “Rougie” Creme Brulee ($298) garnished with a strawberry and raspberry marmalade. This was a decadent treat with a heavy hit of cognac. A must-order for lovers of foie gras.
While there are no official pairings on the menu, the NEZ team can certainly recommend some. For this first dish, we were served Laherte Freres 'Rose de Meunier' Extra Brut Champagne ($1250 per bottle) which is from a small family estate in Epernay who are passionate about bringing out the best of the terroirs. The bubbles balanced out the dish’s creamy texture and enhanced the fruitiness in the marmalade.
Another hit was the Salmon Rillette with Trout Roe and Sourdough Crisps ($268). A simple-looking dish executed very well — moist, fresh, and bright with lemon juice, zest, and dill.
We’re told the Burgundy Snails Roasted with Garlic and Parsley Butter ($208) have been a hit. The kitchen removes and cleans the snails, and the shell is filled with a parsley, thyme, garlic and butter breadcrumb mixture before being topped with the snail meat and then finished in the oven. A fine, simple dish.
To accompany the Burgundy snails was the Domaine du Château de Meursault, Bourgogne Calligraphy Edition 2015 ($1100 per bottle). This chardonnay is creamy and fresh, to balance the earthiness of the snails and providing a buttery finish.
If you order just one dish, and don’t mind it being a heavier one, the Crustaceans Seafood Soup ($388, media tasting portion shown) is a standout. It’s made with three kinds of stock — chicken, fish, and lobster and prawn head, and the stock is then blended with cream, butter, Pernod wine, garlic, various spices and bright hits of orange and lemon zest! The addition of orange is surprising and absolutely delicious. The butter-slow poached fillet, butter-poached leeks, and pan-friend whole tiger prawn are also cooked well.
The Domaine de Bellevue Macération 2020 ($200 per glass, $850 per bottle) was recommended to pair alongside the soup. This orange wine has ample body with light bitterness.
I recommend sharing the Organic Yellow Chicken with Green Asparagus, Morel Mushrooms and a Yellow Wine Sauce ($498). Note this is a half chicken and comes deboned. Very tender and comes in a moreish French-meets-Chinese sauce made with a morel reduction, chicken stock, cream, and a touch of Shaoxing wine.
Though rich, I could have easily had the Bavette de Boeuf Wagyu ($498) by myself. I’m not usually a fan of black pepper sauce with my steak, but this one had a delicious and unusual sweet twist with white wine, red wine vinegar, and a touch of cream. As well, the mashed potato might be half butter (at least a third?) — very indulgent. The caramelized onions sauteed with coriander seed added another dimension of flavour.
For dessert, we tried three options between four of us — and managed to finish most.
The Profiteroles with Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce ($128) are bite-sized, creamy, classic bites.
The Chocolate Moelleux with Chocolate Ice Cream ($148, not pictured) is made with 72% dark chocolate and topped with chocolate ice cream. The fondant is incredibly lush.
However the Cheese Platter ($208, not pictured) is probably my pick — if you like strong cheeses. The cheese selections will come in from Paris weekly, and is supplied by the Fromagerie Alléosse, an institution in the west of Paris since 1984. They have 250 types on offer over five categories: fromage de chèvre (goat’s milk), fromage à pâte persillée (veined or blue), fromage à pâte molle (soft), fromage à pâte demi-dure (semihard) and fromage à pâte dure (hard).
In addition to a large wine list, cocktails are on offer. We finished our meal with the Nezspresso Martini ($168), made with vodka, St. George NOLA Coffee Liquer, and espresso.
There are really cool things going on at NEZ, which is currently open for dinner only. The menu is a mix of classic dishes and fresh twists, and oenophiles will have a great time going through the wine list (we hear Victor has personally visited and thus vouches for the vast majority of vineyards on the list). Prices are high but it may be worth the splurge at least for a few snacks and drinks if you don’t want to do a whole meal. Guests are welcome to visit and enjoy the bar area or terrace.
2/F, Hcode, 45 Pottinger St, Central, Hong Kong, 2550 9605
*By invitation for Foodie