An Inside Look At Écriture
To Maxime Gilbert, the name of his restaurant is something of particular significance. “Écriture means ‘writing’, and when you start a restaurant, you start a story,” he explains, when we meet just a few days shy of the venue’s grand opening. It’s an apt choice of restaurant name, and the connection with the written word plays out throughout the space. Upon exiting the elevators, you’re confronted with a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with tomes on the arts, while on a smaller shelf just flanking the open kitchen there are a few beloved cookbooks penned by culinary greats, from Paul Bocuse to Yannick Alleno.
It is also fitting if you consider that Gilbert has been working on his draft for the restaurant for over a year, after leaving Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in September 2016 to join the Le Comptoir group. Right from the beginning, in a departure from the norm, Ecriture is open for both lunch and dinner service—a testament, perhaps, to how confident Gilbert and the team are about their masterpiece, no longer a work-in-progress.
Iterations of the menu have been hinted at prior to opening, and the final version is tight and concise. It is Gilbert’s way of embracing the philosophy of Korean artist Park Seo-bo, whose works reflecting the notion of ‘purity’ adorn the walls. “At the beginning, we started with a very long menu. We quickly realised that that was not the right way to go,” he explains. He credits his mentor Yannick Alleno for setting him on the right path with the advice that “it’s better to do one fabulous dish, than three middling.”
At the end of the day, Gilbert says, guests should come away happy and not weighed down by too many courses that are too rich and heavy, and meals that take too much time. “It’s better to concentrate and focus on something that is perfect and make the customer happy. It’s the shortest tasting menu I’ve ever done. This also allows us to use better quality produce, and that’s something that is very important to us.”
One might say that Gilbert is trying to redefine the genre of fine dining with this approach, and time will tell whether this restaurant will become a culinary classic.
Écriture, 26/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; ecriture.hk