After my interview with Mr. Raymond Moore, Food and Beverage Manager of Rhombus International Hotels Group, about AVA Restaurant Slash Bar a few weeks ago, I was eager to find out more about AVA’s very popular sister restaurant, AZURE Restaurant Slash Bar and, specifically, about the wine program they have installed there.
I met with Mr. Morgan Rousseau, M’aître d’, to discuss the concept behind the restaurant, its cuisine and its wine list. Morgan explained to me the name “Azure” and why it fits the venue. He described to me the wine list, which is mostly made up of French classics, and explained some of the consumption trends he has noticed among the restaurant’s local, Mainland Chinese, tourist and expat clientele. When asked to suggest a signature dish and wine pairing, he chose Azure’s Australian lamb chop and paired it with the Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico.
Our interview follows.
My name is Morgan. I am the Maitre d’ at Rhombus International Hotels Group. I am in charge of the service and operation at AVA Restaurant Slash Bar and Azure Restaurant Slash Bar. My job is to take care of the quality of the service and to maintain a standard for the company.
Please tell me a bit about the concept behind the cuisine offered at Azure Restaurant Slash Bar.
Azure’s cuisine is of European style with a French touch and an Italian touch, but it blends with Asian cuisine too.
And a bit about the interior here at Azure, why is it so blue? Is the name Azure a play on the Spanish word “azul” for blue?
“Azure “ in Latin languages – Spanish, French, Italian – means “dark blue.” It is a really dark color which is especially beautiful at night, like this venue.
And a bit about the wine list, is it mostly made up of Old or New World wines? Is any one region given preference on the list?
In Azure we have a good balance between Old and New World wines, but mostly we have a large selection of French wines here.
And how would you say that the wine list complements the cuisine at Azure? Is there any particular region whose wines match up especially well with the cuisine offered here?
It depends on the palate of the customer. A more Western customer, for example, will prefer a European wine with a stronger character. Asian customers tend to prefer mono-cépage wines from the New World, easier to understand and order. But our wine list is designed to match the cuisine here.
And about the glass-ware, I’ve seen that in Azure’s sister restaurant, AVA, they serve the wine in stem-less glasses. Is this so for this restaurant as well?
No, in Azure we are a bit more traditional. A lot of our customers prefer larger wine glasses to enhance the flavor of the wine.
How is the wine list physically arranged, by variety or region?
By variety, by grape. This is easier to navigate. But also, within variety we divide by region as well.
And what information do you provide to your customers about each wine on the list? Is there any official information or do you write the tasting notes?
We work closely with the wine suppliers, so we display the official information they give us about their wines first. And then we also add our own experience. We understand that our guests have different preferences and palates, so we have to provide the best information possible.
And tell me a bit about your clientele. Are they mainly locals, Mainland Chinese, tourists or expats?
Azure is a great place in Hong Kong, so we have a lot of local clientele and expat clientele also. It is also a key place for tourists. We are one of the most beautiful bars in the world, so this brings us a large crowd of tourists. It’s a very dynamic venue.
And have you noticed any trends in the varieties that customers tend to order the most? What seems to be most popular among them?
It’s a mix. A lot of our Mainland Chinese guests, for example, are more into name than flavor. Locals tend to want to make new discoveries and get more informed about oenology. It is in fashion to learn about oenology in Hong Kong, so they like to speak to the sommelier and drink mostly New World wines, which are easier on the palate and easier to understand the flavor of. And expats mostly order Old World, so Italian and French.
And if you could pick one pairing of a dish to a wine which would best represent Azure, which would you pick and why?
I think I would go for the lamb, because it goes with many different styles of wine and so it is the easiest dish at Azure to match. For example, you can go with the French wine like a Pauillac or an Italian Amarone or some New Zealand wine would also be a good match. My personal recommendation would be the Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico.
Sounds great. Thank you so much.