In my college days, I spent some time in the south of France on a homestay program and among my fondest memories were the nights of home-cooked meals made by my host mother – simple, unfussy, easy home cooking. None of this fancy French food whipped up by yet another Cordon Bleu trained chef could ever beat the cooking of dear “maman” – and that’s the belief behind new Soho restaurant, Les Fils a Maman.
The restaurant was first started in Paris by four childhood friends, who came together to make the recipes passed on by mummy dearest! Les Fils a Maman, literally meaning “Mama’s boys”, was created to serve simple home cooking for French boys (and girls) galore – and now they’ve brought that very same concept to Hong Kong, their first branch outside Europe!
Tucked off a hidden alley on Hollywood Road (where Vietnamese restaurant Song used to be – walk from Central and you’ll spot the sign pointing you down some stairs), Les Fils a Maman is a French sanctuary fitting snuggly between the boundaries of Central and Soho. The windows of the restaurant open up to a quiet public garden, so if you can, snag a spot by the back windows!
The décor is a charming mix of French nostalgic pieces, Asterix comics and toy cars proudly displayed on the shelves, with enchanting road signs from France and family snapshots of the Les Fils team on the walls. Altogether it makes for a lovely intimate and cosy atmosphere that suits the simple homely food perfectly.
We were recommended to start with the simple tomato mozzarella – an easy yet tasty salad of fresh greens, sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella torn into pieces. The mozzarella was milky and delicate with just a hint of sourness. It might be just a simple salad, but you just can’t go wrong with this dish to start off a meal!
Our second starter was a cute little jar of fried Babybel cheese on a bed of salad. The salad was a little heavy on the balsamic dressing (a sharp shock to my tastebuds!), but as for the croquettes of Babybel…. I mean, who can say no to fried cheese? It had just the right crunch on the outside, with the contrast of oozing cheese melting in the centre. Yummy!
For our mains, we opted for one of the daily specials, the tenderloin with garden vegetables. The beef itself was a tad overcooked, but the crunchy bacon bits on top of the meat and the smooth creamy blue cheese sauce underneath were a total winner – Rach and I simply couldn’t get enough of the sauce, using the array of vegetables to soak up every last drop!
We also tried the homemade fish nuggets, playfully presented with the fish fingers in a little pot, accompanied with fries and carrot puree on a wooden board. Sadly, the fries weren’t warm enough, and the mash… well let’s just say we prefer sliced carrots rather than a baby food style purée!
For dessert, we opted for the profiteroles crème patissière and the chocolate M&M tart. The profiteroles were sadly not as light and airy as I had hoped, and the crème patissière piped into it was also a bit on the heavy side.
The chocolate tart had a moreish rich flavour but was also quite dense, and as much as Rach and I wanted to finish it, it just seemed never-ending! It could probably be halved in size and be just as satisfying (and perhaps served with ice-cream to cut through the richness), and we couldn’t detect much presence of M&Ms either. Needless to say, we were definitely on chocolate overload (yes… it does happen!) and wished we’d instead tried the tiramisu kinder pot that the table next to us loved.
The simple homely menu is somewhat reminiscent of La Cantoche, another quirky French eaterie also hidden down a side alley off Hollywood Road; Les Fils is a little pricier but still reasonable, with the set lunch costing $125 for two hearty courses and $160 for three (just watch out for some of the add-ons for certain dishes). There’s already a healthy French clientele only a month after opening (always a good sign!) and we were excited when owner Stephane told us about their popular Sunday brunch option (lunch service finishes at 2.30pm the rest of the week), as this is the perfect casual location to while away a weekend afternoon with good food and great company.
So if you’re ever looking for some home cooking without the fuss of actually cooking at home, make a reservation at Les Fils a Maman. You’ll no doubt be charmed by the creative and nostalgic décor, and the atmosphere is just perfect for a meal from your home away from home!
Les Fils à Maman LG/F, 75 Hollywood Road, Central
2871 0045 www.lesfilsamaman.hk