The Story of Ecriture
Located in Hong Kong's newest piece of real estate, H Queens, Ecriture is the brain child of Executive Chef Maxime Gilbert who envisioned the restaurant over a year ago after leaving Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in 2016.
Part of Le Comptoir group, Ecriture represents a move away from the traditional concept of fine dining so we went to indulge in their unique menu and speak to Maxime himself…
Tell us a bit about Ecriture and what guests can expect?
Ecriture means 'writing' and that's what I wanted to do when I conceptualised a new restaurant, start from scratch and begin our own story. This is how we treated the menu as well.
We wanted to start the restaurant with a clear line. Ultimately, the food we cook is the essence of French cooking but I draw upon inspiration from Japan, their way of cooking and their flavour profile.
Above all, Ecriture is about our guests, this is how we see the restaurant, through their eyes. Everything is chosen for the guest so that they can enjoy this unique culinary experience. From the cutlery and plates to the way we've designed the open kitchen, it's all about guest experience. Ecriture is our unique way of fine dining, we might be more relaxed but we still want to be on top.
Is there a difference between what you offer at lunch and dinner?
Lunch and dinner are largely the same but with a few small differences. I didn't want guests to have a different experience at each meal. We've tried to keep the menu concise and targeted so that we could focus closely on each dish rather than doing multiple dishes and lowering the standard.
Why did you turn to France and Japan for influence in the menu?
We use Japanese produce but it's not the only produce we use. We have a base of France and Japan but it depends on the menu for what guests will be experiencing.
France and Japan also share the same season but there is also a bigger story here; there is a lot of admiration and respect between each country. If you work in Paris, there are lots of chefs coming over from Japan to train and vice versa. We are learning a lot from each other.
What do you think is the most important thing to consider when running a restaurant like Ecriture?
The service is one of the most important parts of our restaurant. We had a Chinese guest who visited and he came to see me after his meal and he was so impressed by the service. He mentioned that he hadn't experienced this elsewhere in Hong Kong.
We have ultimately created a really strong family. You can see that the service and the kitchen really work together and I think that is really important.
Who has inspired you?
I worked with Yannick Alleno for 10 years and he became my mentor so I learnt a lot from him but at the same time I was able to evolve and use these skills in what I did next. I left Alleno to go to Amber and that was the first opportunity I had to do something really different.
I waited to open Ecriture because I wanted to be ready and mature enough to open something I could go all in on. It forced me to push myself that one step further.
On becoming a mentor to others…
It is a big responsibility that you have in this role. The role of the chef has evolved, more and more you see the Chef as the GM. I try to be the captain by making sure everyone can operate together because that's when it works. We have a vision and as a team we bring that vision to life.
Training and sharing is a big part of my job. If you don't share what you have learnt with the people you are surrounded by then there is no point. Shaping a new chef is a big deal. When you see someone succeed, you feel a huge amount of pride knowing that you were part of it – pushing, encouraging and promoting them every step of the way.
What do you hope guests take away when they leave?
Your pallet and the food you taste is a souvenir and this taste can take you back to a memory of a certain place and that's what I hope our guests take away. For example, I wanted to do something different to petit-fours when guests ended their meal; I wanted them to have a memorable last bite. This is also why there are small surprises throughout lunch and dinner that no one is expecting, keeping our story never-ending…
Ecriture is part of Le Comptoir, a leading restaurant group based in Hong Kong. Le Comptoir was founded in early 2013 with the goal of redefining the fine dining experience. The group runs several Hong Kong properties including Bibo, Hotshot, Tri, Cabana, Djapa, Umi, The Lighthouse and The Ocean.