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Wednesday 21 January 2015

Surf & Turf: New Hong Kong Restaurants

A New Year means a new diary just itching to be filled with exciting plans.

As luck would have it, the Hong Kong food scene is currently ablaze with hot openings, so much so, that it's only the 21st of January, and we already have a long, long list of new eateries to munch our way through (a couple may be late-2014 launches that we missed in the blur of mulled wine and mince pies that consumed December, but still...).

Last weekend dawned warm and sunny and after a week of carb-dodging and generally being very, very good, we decided that it was high time that we made a start on that list of must-trys and headed out for a few bowls of deliciousness courtesy of the freshest chefs around town.

First up, it was round to the South side of the island for a sunny lunch overlooking the sea...

Pinning fingers at the ready, Maximal Concepts' latest restaurant is just like stepping straight into a 'Dream Beach House' Pinterest board.

Can you imagine a more dreamy spot to snuggle into with a gaggle of your best girlfriends and round or six of very strong cocktails...?

Crazy interiors gushing over, and mental iPhone photo snapping done, we settled into a window-seat overlooking the beach to peruse the menu while people watching and soaking up some wintery rays.

The restaurant tagline is Seafood.BBQ.Margaritas. which pretty perfectly sums up what's on offer while also massively understating what Limewood's all about. This is no beach shack serving up the catch of the day alongside plastic cups of margarita. The menu may offer a veritable aquarium of seafood options, but there's also a whole host of meat and vegetarian dishes each spiked with a carnival of South-Asian flavours. And those margaritas? Not your ordinary run of the mill margaritas and just the very tip of the cocktail iceberg here. If a cucumber, mint and jalapeño Margarita doesn't grab your fancy, how about a Barbecued Pineapple Cuban Mojito or a Charred Coconut Pina Colada instead?

When it came to our lunch, we overordered (as always) and had a couple of mishaps where forks were quicker than cameras (as always), but the dishes that managed to get snapped before being devoured included, Vietnamese Fish Tacos with lime aioli and Asian slaw...

...Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna Ceviche with Cucumber Relish and Yuzu Aioli...

... and the scary looking but mind-alteringly awesome, fresh oysters with calamansi, ponzu, scallion and quail egg...

Limewood is a huge dose of scrumptious sunshine and most definitely the best breezy, beach restaurant in Hong Kong. Come early for a laid-back, sun-soaked recovery brunch or bowl up here for sundowners after a day burning your nose on the beach where cocktail-fuelled moonlit skinny-dipping is pretty much guaranteed to ensue...

Shop 103/104 The Pulse,
28 Beach Road
Repulse Bay
Hong Kong
+852 2866 8668

The Butcher's Club Steak Frites
Heading back inland as the sun set, we'd somehow managed to while away the day with enough wandering and shopping to have worked up an appetite again. As lunch had made the very most of the best the ocean has to offer, we figured dinner should be a carnivore's dream, and an indecisive carnivore at that.

Over the last couple of years Hong Kong has seen steak frites joints springing up left, right and centre around town. Each offers a menu with a single solo star - the steak - with a little supporting role played by the chips. A year ago La Vache kicked the trend off with it's red neon cow fronted joint in Soho. Hot on its hooves were L'Entrecote de Paris and Le Relais de L'Entrecote (rather too confusingly similarly named for this English girl).

Next on the Steak Frites runaway train? The Butcher's Club - the group that knows beef like no one else in the city - not only the go-to dry-aged meat specialists but also creators of what may just be the world's best burger, the Butcher's Club Burger's Double Happiness... 

We love steak, we've loved everything the Butcher's Club boys have done before, so to say we had sky high hopes for dinner, was an understatement.

Perched right above PMQ, at the top of a flight of blackboard-flanked stairs the petite Butcher's Club Steak Frites, is a cosy space with shuttered windows and a rosy glow courtesy of dozens of wet market red lamps strung from the ceiling.

The menu is short, sweet and to the point with offering just one option - a steak and salad set. Or so it seems. In typical Butcher's Club style, a bar code lurking at the bottom of the page can be scanned to reveal a secret menu that changes regularly. With a flick of our iPhones, we discovered a surf and turf option and a jumbo cut of rib-eye big enough for two-people. Licking our lips, we placed our orders. 

The salad starter arrived and was draped in enough thick slices of maple-glazed bacon and drenched in enough blue cheese dressing not to really qualify as a salad at all. It was also so enormous that gluttons should be warned that finishing the lot may be quite capable of rendering you defeated before the main event has even been unveiled.

Food photography is not the most beautiful when taken in a room with slightly Bordello-toned lighting, but even this pathetically poor attempt to capture my supper can't disguise a pretty epic slab of meat and several juicy lobster tails (two people ate that little lot ok?!?!)

The frites were thick-cut, fried in duck fat and worth a trip back all on their own. The meat however was not quite up to our very lofty expectations. It was served a little lukewarm and chewing was at times fairly hard work. This could have been down to us asking for our meat to be cooked rare (when it should perhaps have been cooked medium-rare) and may be a peril of opting to supersize your hunk of a meal.

All in all, we'd say that Butcher's Club Steak Frites is a great addition to the roll call of steak frites spots in town, but isn't quite so scene-stealingly awesome as it's little brother, Butcher's Club Burgers (did we mention the Double Happiness....?)

Butcher's Club Steak Frites
UG/F 52-56 Staunton Street
(the entrance is tucked just round the corner on Aberdeen Street though)
Hong Kong
+852 2858 9800

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