Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'll Take 69 Instead

Is style everything? Can beauty compensate for a lacking in other areas? Nowadays, so many restaurants get a pass for so many of the wrong reasons: because they're backed by the right people/brand, because they fall neatly into some dining fad, because they've been hyped up so much that assumption actually trumps reality. Does Madam Sixty-Ate get a pass for being a really cool-looking restaurant, having a great eye for definitive art, and understanding how to push the envelope with food, without necessarily living up to its potential?

I went to the Wanchai restaurant with my biffy Pat during the Festival of Restaurants week organized by the HKTB. Point: even though it was discount week, the supposedly cheaper set menu for lunch was still $250, same as what two-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation was charging (I know some people hate Bo, I used to be one of them but I like it now). Was the food at Madam Sixty-Ate good enough to exceed Bo, whether in presentation, creativity or taste?

Decor-wise, no complaints. The afternoon light is amazing, the interiors quaint and comfortable, and the fixtures unique and eclectic. I've been for drinks in the evening and it was just as nice.

This was the week before Pat got married, so he was on the phones (yes phoneSSS) a lot, during which I photographed his big mussels since he'd been working out ahead of the wedding. WAH so MAN.

I saved the food for last because, honestly, it wasn't memorable enough for me. When I was having it (almost a month ago) I remember thinking that it was okay. Contrast it with this: when I went to Yardbird, I loved it so much I rewrote the Prestige Dining supplement to exclude it so that I could do a full feature on it in December (read it here) AND went home and recreated all my favourite dishes (blogged here).

Yet I barely remembered what I ordered at Madam Sixty-Ate until I saw the pictures. Some things worked (really tender chicken), others didn't (Pat's mush of a watermelon dessert). The dishes looked pretty, but not properly finessed -- my ice cream was half-melted on the plate when it arrived.

I've asked a lot of questions here, and I sense that the answer to all of them is no. Now here's another one: Was I mostly satisfied at the end of the meal? Sure. But maybe that was only because I got to stare at Pat's muscles.

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