My old pal Alice, a macaron lover, e-mailed me in April and asked where she could get decent maracons after reading my post about macaron afternoon tea in Macau. I am no macaron expert, but it doesn't take one to answer her question. All I needed to tell her was that Pierre Hermé would be opening his first store in HK in a month! If the macarons by The Picasso of Pastry fail to satisfy her, nothing will. ;P
When PH finally opened its door in IFC, we decided to get some macarons there and then catch up with each other over tea at St Betty. Technically speaking it's my first visit to St Betty, as it's called "Betty's Kitschen" and helmed by a different chef when I last visited it with Evil Girls.
The brainchild of renowned restauranteur Alan Yau, St Betty is a casual European restaurant that is just as chic as its reputed elder siblings Yauatcha and Hakkasan. We found the earth-toned restaurant with full-length windows welcoming and bright. The cheerful waiting staff contributed to the vibrant ambience too. While service could have been slightly more attentive (e.g. the waiters should regularly refill our teapots with water, instead of doing so only when asked), I didn't feel like complaining because the waiters were all quite cute, wahahaha... :P
There's one thing that we really couldn't tand - the tablecloth!! When Alice and I were taking pictures of our teas and food, the knife-edge creases of the tablecloth seemed too atrocious to ignore. :( This was the tea that I ordered, BOP seasonal Dimbula from Sri Lanka. It was weaker than I thought and not too special.
In this picture: CREASE and our tea set!
Top tier: patisserie selection
Middle tier: warm scones, homemade jam & clotted cream
Bottom tier (clockwise from top): crushed avocado, roasted red pepper & chilli jam sandwich; home smoked salmon, pickled cucumber & horseradish sandwich (but the cucumber could only be found on the beef sandwich...?); cheese puff; roast beef, charred red onion & mustard mayonnaise sandwich; tomato salsa, pesto & shaved Parmesan sandwich
Everything in the tea set appeared to be one size smaller than average. There's only 1 glass of yogurt mousse and 1 sandwich of each kind. Under normal circumstances I would start whining like a desperate housewife... not when I knew I would be having PH macarons afterwards though! :9
Reviews on St Betty's tea set are mixed; some people like it, others consider it only average. Alice and I found ourselves in the former group - we thought it's pretty decent. :) The pomegranate-accented creamy mousse on spoon, as well as the bubbly yogurt mousse topped with layers of fruits, suggested that the tea set was designed with style in mind. The 2 different kinds of mousse was solidly good, too, with tartness, sweetness and creaminess all in unison.
As the rest of the tea set appeared to be quite typical, we did not expect any surprise ahead. That's why we were both wowed by the unassuming but punch-packed canelé. It embodied 3 different textures: the caramelized outermost layer was crispy, body of the crust chewy, and the centre tender. Just like Kinder Surprise, it satisfied 3 wishes at a time! ;) St Betty's scones proved to be different from their prototypical buttery counterparts as well. They were soft and airy, somewhat like English muffin. They seemed so light and innocent that even eating them with slathers of clotted cream sounded like a healthy thing to do! :9
The sandwiches were nice; my favourites were foreseeably salmon (salmon always tops my list of favourites if it's done right - who can say no to peachy slices of fatty goodness?) and piquant tomato salsa. I also liked the cheese puffs, which actually did not have much taste, because they were like a calming oasis for my sugar-overdosed taste buds. :)
Overall remarks: If you have got bored of having tea in hotel restaurants, St Betty will be a good choice for a change. The portion is just right for fat-phobic Kong Girls, but do not go empty-stomach if you have normal appetite. :P
After tea time, it was DESSERT TIME! :D
Was disappointed that the IFC branch was only selling macaron box sets back then, so we could not pick and mix our favourite flavours. Worse still, none of the sets contained my favourite Ispahan macaron! :( How could they open a branch without even stocking up with their signature flavour!?
All the grumbles, however, were forgotten as soon as we opened the beautiful box of poetry. The neatly arranged macarons were so colourful, their flavours so playful and creative (e.g. olive oil and vanilla flavour :9)! Ever since my first encounter with PH macarons in Paris, they have become the golden standard of macarons in my heart. So how did PH macarons in HK compare with those in Paris? The jewel-toned pastries were as luscious as I had remembered, but the shells were slightly less crunchy. Perhaps I was inevitably biased after learning that the macarons were flown in from Paris rather than freshly made? Or was my memory of Parisian PH macarons overly rosy? At any rate, as sure as eggs is eggs, PH have the BEST macarons in HK. Yes, their macarons are better than those by Kong Girls' favourite Ladurée, but... *shh* don't tell others about this ok? Let the queue stay at Ladurée so we can continue to enjoy stress-free macaron shopping at PH, hehe... ;)
St Betty (website)
Shop 2075, Podium Level Two, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:00pm - 6:00pm daily
$398 per 2 persons
Pierre Hermé Paris-Hong Kong (website)
Shop 1019C, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening hours: 10:00am - 9:00pm