Racines, PoHo French Restaurant Review | Delish Eats
REVIEWS

Delish Eats: Racines, Vibrant Gem of Southern French Flavours in PoHo

Restaurant story: Literally translating to ‘roots’ in French, Racines sets out to emphasize the beauty of Southern French cuisine that both founding chefs grew up loving. Built upon seasonality and vibrant bursts of flavour, Racines’ menus are curated explorations into the potential of fresh ingredients and their heritage in the South of France, with offerings usually lasting only several months at a time for optimized flavours.

Chef story: Sharing a friendship stretching out to almost two decades, Chef Adrien (from Toulouse) and Chef Romain (from Nice) have worked in esteemed Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, both serving as apprentices at La Chèvre d’Or, before continuing their careers in Asia. Brought to Hong Kong to join Caprice and Petrus, respectively, the two have since combined their efforts to tell the culinary story of their native Southern France through the establishment of Racines.

What’s the vibe and venue like: Warm earthen tones and naturalistic textures provided a soft and welcoming backdrop that guests settle comfortably into throughout the night. The space adheres to a serene palette of greys, beiges, and dark greens – not unlike colours from the roots of a tree. A vintage dark wood table lies as the main long countertop, which affords front row seats to witness the preparation process, and to chit-chatting with the Chefs.

Racines Hong Kong Chef Adrien Chef Romain

How much does it cost: The seven-course experience is priced at HK$1788 per person, with the option for an addition of Kaviari Ocietra Caviar (starting from HK$98), as well as a bespoke wine pairing priced at 3 glasses for HK$598 and 5 glasses for HK$898.

What is the menu about: This autumn features the ‘Plénitude’ menu featuring a seven-course progression across the flavours of Southern France, bookended by house-made smoked butter on fresh sourdough (baked using a recipe shared by Levain Bakery) with amuse bouche to begin, and petit fours for a sweet finish.

What did we order: Squid, Artichoke, Oyster, Red Mullet, Pigeon, Fennel

(Not pictured) Sourdough Bread with Smoked Butter, Amuse-bouche (Pigeon, Mussels, Hokkaido Uni), Ossau Iraty, Petit Fours

Racines HK Squid

Squid: Stuffed with a ratatouille filling transformed into caponata; the squid makes an immediate impression thanks to the tang of its white wine vinegar marinade. A slight smokiness is present thanks to the addition of pine nuts and a garlicky sauce, drawing from harissa and Spanish-influenced flavours, complementing the innate brine of the squid with invigorating freshness.

Racines Hong Kong Artichoke

Artichoke: The artichoke is braised and presented as a reworked ‘pain de viande’ using pork consommé and hazelnut dust. Served beside a bed of pickle salad, that has been in the works for a whole year, this course blends the velvety mouthfeel of a pate with the sharp zing unique to pickled foods for a striking contrast.

Racines Hong Kong Oyster

Oyster: Starring oyster in the form of a froth atop bite-size cod fish with porcini mushroom, the dish is a play of textures that unfold into a progression of flavours. The oyster itself carries a sort of sweetness, reminiscent of ume, and warms from the inside out in a clash of sea and land that ties the mushroom’s earthiness with its marine counterparts.

Racines Hong Kong Red Mullet

Red Mullet: Evoking techniques used to cook Marseille fish soup, bouillabaisse, the mullet is tender and flakes off with each prod of the fork yet remains succulent and mouthy. The marinade of olive oil and tomato paste seep in with an autumnal richness that feels distinct for a fish-centric dish.

Racines Hong Kong Pigeon

Pigeon: This signature Brittainy pigeon dish is a crowd favourite - and for good reason. The meat is tender and savoury, whilst the characteristic ‘oiliness’ of the pigeon (that I often notice in the Cantonese style of preparation) is retained just under the crisp of its skin, without ever becoming grimy or overly fatty. We enjoyed the dish with our choice of custom-made knives each marked with the name of an important figure in Racines’ restaurant history, adding a layer of significance to the course.

Racines Hong Kong Fennel

Fennel: Despite the name of the course, the fennel plays a secondary role as a palate refresher to its counterpart, a luscious kumquat sorbet. Melding together sweetness and a slight vanilla fragrance with the sourness of the citrus fruit, the sorbet reminds me ever so slightly of Yakult. There is an added flair of sophistication thanks to the liquorice-adjacent touch of the fennel vinaigrette, preventing the dessert from venturing into being too sugary-tasting.

Racines Hong Kong

What we liked: In addition to crafting a coherent menu for those who might not be familiar with the Southern French region’s palate, Chef Adrien and Chef Romain made sure to extend their hospitality and attentiveness to each table. They took the time and care to paint vivid pictures of the France they had grown up in, with animated storytelling and genuine smiles.

What we didn’t like: The biggest woe of the evening was realizing that the items I had enjoyed most may not appear on the roster again after the next change in seasons and harvest.

What you should order: The menu is a pre-determined, self-contained experience of curated courses and more. The Osmose wine pairing is a recommended choice for gourmands who enjoy a complementary tipple, and try the Pigeon if you can.

Location: Racines, 22 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 5742 6539

This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Racines in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.   

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.