It's summer time and junk-trip season and I'm the queen of "man I really wanna pig out but I have to be on a diet"... which sort of eliminates any Sunday brunches which mention foie gras cooking stations or dessert buffet selections. We can't completely cut out the tradition though, so if you've got that hankering for a decadent deal, then the best way to go is The Principal's Sunday brunch.
What's great about this set is that it offers the depravity of a buffet brunch without actually being an all-you-can-eat affair. The multiple courses give the effect of lots of food, but most of it is actually very classy, summery -- healthy, almost, as evidenced by the fact that it starts with a refreshing yogurt-and-berries combo. If you're like me, you'll probably feel a little "WTF" about that. I never freaking order YOGURT at a restaurant when you can buy it at 7-Eleven for $5. But it gets better, I promise. There's cold cuts and cheese and figs to follow... that's a bit more like it. But don't fill up.
The Press Room Group, which owns The Principal, has always been very forward-thinking in their concepts, and bold in making style statements (the fact that this haute restaurant is themed after a school, but not in a cheesy way, certainly shows that). So it's very much appreciated, the sense of whimsy that's infused by serving something like homemade tins with seafood. It helps that these are yummy.
But not as yummy as the CEVICHE IN JARS, goshdarnit. So beautiful, and classic, and restrained. That's what I appreciate most about dining at The Principal, they really know how to pull back, in an era of dining where more is more. There's no liquid nitrogen or molecularly fantastic foods masquerading as other foods. Just really quite flawless execution of finessed, but not overly fancy fare.
Like, who would throw in a whole course of fried fritters if the idea is to be a fine-dining joint? As the Press Room Group matures, I really feel like they get a better handle on food concepts and what Hong Kong actually needs. In The Principal, that's a) a non-poserish fancy restaurant that balks the whole suit-and-tie stuffiness; b) wholesome Spanish-influenced food, extremely well-executed; c) specifically in this instance, a brunch that's not like any other brunch in Hong Kong.
It's one main per head, chosen from a handful of diverse options, from free-range egg with parmentier, caramelized onion, fava beans, artichoke chips and truffle (and that 63-degree egg is FAMOUS here. PS eggs cook at 64 degrees, thus the exactness of temperature) to spinach/pine nut/goat cheese quiche to what I ordered, pain perdu with bacon, caramelized banana, maple syrup and bacon ice cream.
Nobody actually ordered the quiche. I'm sure it's very good, there are just... other, better-sounding things on the menu. Like BACON ICE CREAM. I don't know why it's called pain perdu (lost bread) instead of just French toast, but I venture to say I lost myself in that stuff. Man oh man.
Save room for dessert: Churros and marshmallow noses and other fun concoctions, like jelly candies with pop rocks. Pop rocks are making a comeback in fine food, I've had them three times in recent press tastings: here, at View62 by Paco Roncero and at Nobu. I feel like I should get my hands on a pack and try incorporating it into an at-home dessert, I think it could be a nice companion to ice cream. But I'd probably end up eating them all before the recipe was actually executed.
Sunday brunch at The Principal comes in at $690 with free-flow water, juice, coffee, wine, lager and champagne. So I guess if you're one who's concerned with getting your money's worth, you could also consume a lot of liquids.
Optional additions include oysters -- a dozen for $555 or half that for $290. Totally good but honestly not necessary with this orgy of food. Half of it might be cold and summery light, but it all adds up, so you'll leave more than satiated, without having to take place in the foie gras line five times.
The Principal is at 9 Star Street, Wanchai. Tel: (852) 2563 3444.