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Restaurant review: Cochin in Central – quintessential French fare in a casual setting

We visited Cochin – the small French bistro that replaced Peruvian restaurant, Chicha, on a quiet night when only a couple of other tables were occupied.

The menu is divided sections that include “from the tin”, hot and cold small plates, bigger plates “for one or more” and “for two or more”, cheese and desserts.

Beef tartare Polmard (HK$250 for 150 grams) was fantastic, as it should be; it uses meat from the high-end artisan butcher in Paris. The coarsely chopped meat came with pieces of delicious smoked sardines, blobs of smooth avocado purée, pickled egg yolk and microgreens, none of which detracted from the deep flavour of the beef. The tartare was served with wafer thin pieces of toast that were too flimsy, and we ended up eating the meat with the crusty baguette.

Our second favourite dish was the organic lamb pot-au-feu with anchovy-herb dressing (HK$260). It was a summery and refined version of pot-au-feu, with tender meat, a light but deeply flavoured broth and vegetables that included pea pods and yellow squash.

Brittany mackerel (HK$265) was marred by slightly too much salt on the fish which was otherwise deliciously rich and fatty. The accompaniments – confit lemon gremolata, potatoes and young romaine lettuce – were fantastic.

We loved the meaty, well-seasoned filling of the rabbit and foie gras pie (HK$275), but the pastry was soggy and not buttery enough.

Of the desserts, pistachio creme brulée (HK$120) was smooth enough, but tasted oddly more like marzipan than pistachio. The accompanying langues de chat were too hard. Babau au rum (HK$130) was a failure: it tasted as if it had been made of pound cake, rather than a spongy savarin dough, and the syrup was too sweet.

Cochin, 26 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2561 3336. About HK$325 without drinks or the service charge