Monte Carlo, the famous district of the tiny European principality of Monaco, may mainly be infamous for gambling, Formula One racing, James Bond movies, and other ostentatious displays of wealth. But perhaps beef should be added to the list.
The Giraudi family, historically meat traders, established the Giraudi Group in Monaco in the 1970s. This family business has now grown into one of the largest European meat import/export businesses, including as the first importer of certified Japanese Kobe beef into Europe. With these meaty roots, the group expanded into the restaurant business, among others, and opened the first Beefbar in Monte Carlo in 2005.
With additional branches subsequently opened in Moscow, Mexico and Mykonos, Hong Kong became the fifth location of Beef Bar with its opening in Central late last year.
Befitting its European heritage, Beef Bar is located at 16 Ice House Street in the Club Lusitano Building, where its eponymous institution has served Portuguese expatriates since 1866 – making it the longest continuous presence at a location by a club in Hong Kong.
Upon entering Beefbar, one is first struck by the design, which is elegant and contemporary, but more conservative rather than trendy. The dining room has light marble walls, the lights are dimmed but not dark, and a selection of wine is displayed in a glass case.
I would certainly recommend to start your evening at the bar, as it is well stocked and traditional cocktails are made to perfection. On my last visit, I had an Amaretto Sour, the first cocktail on the menu. The drink was topped with an airy layer of frothed egg white and garnished with an alcohol-infused dried orange, which was itself topped with crumbled almond. It was without question the best example of this drink I have tasted. I was also intrigued by the homemade negroni mix infusing on-site in a clay pot, but I didn’t try it.
For dinner, I have tried dishes from both the à la carte and tasting menus. What I like here is that whichever you order from, the focus is solely on quality and taste and not on monstrous portions of dead cow, unlike traditional American-style steakhouses – even very good ones.
A half-portion of Angus Beef Tartare
The à la carte starter menu includes a ten-item “Raw Bar”. The traditional Beef Tartare (HKD240) was split into two portions by the waiter for easy sharing, and was smooth and flavourful with the meat complemented but not overpowered by condiments.
The Angus Beef Carpaccio
The Black Angus Beef Fillet Carpaccio (HKD220) was thinly sliced and served flavoured with salted fried basil, fresh celery leaves and some delicate slices of very thin, crumbling toast.
The mains are broken down by category denoting beef type and origin, e.g. American prime black Angus, Australian crossbred Wagyu, and certified Kobe beef, in each case indicating cut and weight.
Large steaks are certainly available but for the richer cuts, I find that a smaller portion is a better way to balance a full meal. The 100-gram Kobe Fillet (HKD590) was a rich luxurious-tasting piece of meat plated with the simple accompaniment of a small amount of rock salt and wasabi. I would avoid using the red miso sauce served on the side as I found it too strong for the meat which should be enjoyed for its own full flavour.
The Milk-Fed Dutch Veal
The 200-gram Milk-Fed Dutch Veal (HKD380) was beautifully finished on the outside and pink and tender throughout. The port wine sauce it came with was light enough to be an appropriate complement.
The Jalapeño Chillies Mash
Beefbar’s menu also lists a full slate of side dishes including seven varieties of mashed potatoes. The Jalapeño Chillies Mash (HKD80) was served in a deep copper pot topped with slices of bright chillies, with fresh minced jalapeño evident throughout the smooth, buttery mash. It was absolutely delicious with a good kick. For a healthier side, the Asparagus and Parmesan (HKD80) consisted of a handful of nicely cooked, crunchy green pieces of sliced stalks atop a smattering of cheese.
For the uninitiated, the Signature Tasting Menu (HKD980) is also a good introduction. The menu includes six courses starting with three from the raw bar, followed by a delicious Mini Jalapeno Burger, a main of either black Angus (served two ways) or cod, and concluding with dessert. The raw items, consisting of a Sea Bass Ceviche, Veal Tartare and a Japanese-style Beef Tataki, were excellent, although personally I prefer the richer taste of the Angus Beef Tartare to the milder though very tender veal.
Given that it is Beef Bar, I would certainly recommend the Angus beef selection for the main. Both the fillet and the bavette were thick pieces of medium rare beef served on a hot iron skillet, accompanied with their signature mashed potatoes.
Coffee parfait, salted caramel and chestnuts
The dessert of coffee parfait, salted caramel and chestnuts was beautifully presented but somewhat underwhelming to eat after the delicious preceding courses.
My only other quibbles with this restaurant is their sometimes rather bland amuse-bouche served and the occasional service issues. These included a waitress who could not explain the options presented on the tasting menu, and a bill which charged for a bottle of wine when only a glass was ordered.
All and all, I can’t wait to go back here and try more cocktails, more meat (both raw and cooked), and more mash at this elegant and contemporary steakhouse from Monte Carlo.
About the Hungry Lawyer: Marc Rubinstein, born in Baltimore, USA, has been in Asia for nearly 20 years with 13 of those in Hong Kong. He has split his career between banks and law firms, and is currently the general counsel of an Asia-based real estate and alternative energy investor. Marc is a co-founder and co-chair of the Hong Kong Gay & Lesbian Attorneys Network, and previously chaired the Nomura Gay & Lesbian Network, Asia. In addition to being a hungry lawyer, he has run three marathons, eight half-marathons and completed the Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker.
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