Saturday, October 8, 2016

Meat Craving Satisfied at Beefbar

Sometimes restaurant names can be deceptive, but not so much with beefbar, except the fact that it's not exactly a bar but a proper modern steakhouse on Ice House Street in Central specializes in, of course, beef. I am not a steakhouse person, often preferred to enjoy the big slab of meat at the comfort of my own home in pajamas and slippers rather than having to suit up for a formal meal outside. But I was curious to check out this place after hearing all the positive reviews since opening late last year.

I arrived slightly earlier than the rest of the party, so I could let my bottle take a breather ahead of time. The interior of the restaurant was in contemporary, minimalist style unlike the more traditional steakhouses - the white, grey and black color scheme across the spacious dining area with the wine bottles on display in the temperature-controlled units may sound a bit "cold" but with the dimmed amber lighting and leather couches I felt it's cozy and comfortable.

Obviously beef is the main focus at the restaurant but there are a good selection of seafood and other meat dishes, all listed on their "one-page" a la carte menu with cocktails and drinks listed on another leather-bound booklets. After hearing the special items available off-menu (on the night of our visit, the option of Korean beef and white truffles were offered) we decided to order a couple steak dishes to share as our main course for our group of 6, and before that, our own appetizer dish to start.

I ordered the traditional beef tartare done "bistro style" as my starter course, which arrived after the amuse bouche of salmon mousse was served in a metal spoon. The beef tartare was well-seasoned with velvety texture while retaining some of a bite - definitely one of the better versions I have tried in town. The kale salad with avocado - a comped dish on the house - was refreshing with plenty of lemon zest on top with a rich dressing and grated parmesan. It was a good in-between courses amidst all the heavy, protein-rich dishes that we had.

We went for the US Prime Black Angus Beef with two different cuts as our main course this time after a quick deliberation and study on the menu. Ribeye is usually my cut of choice and the one we had - 1.3kg bone-in - didn't dissappoint. The meat was tender and rich in flavor, with good amount of fat on the side - I would say it was slightly overcooked on the outside but I did like the charred crust from the broiling. But tonight I actually preferred the striploin cut more, evenly cooked to medium-rare doneness and cut in thicker slices to serve, with firmer meat marbled with slight amount of fat and delectable meaty flavor. The steaks were tasty on their own, but I liked the sauces that were served on the side, especially the horseradish and red miso, both working extremely well with the meat.

We also shared a number of sides, most of them served in those cute little Mauviel copper pans. While I may dispute their notion of "Unrivalled" Mash Potatoes as they were described in the menu - I actually preferred the one at Robuchon - both the mash dishes we chose were still fabulous, one mixed with lemon and lime zests, and one with melted Comte cheese on top. I also loved the combination of mushrooms and chestnut, and the perfectly cooked asparagus and parmesan.

We did fairly well with our wines, especially one didn't drink at all. We started with the white then moving on to a couple red wines with vastly different characters. The slightly off-dry riesling had good acidity for a rounded taste for something easy to start, and I thought the Pinot Noir from Argentina was somewhat of a curveball but I am surprised at the pleasant nose and the finesse from a new world Pinot (guess having an Italian owner from a famous winemaker family helps). Probably not a fair competition but the Solaia was the runaway winner for our evening. Big and bold, starting from the rich bouquet of ripe blackberries and violet aroma. Black fruit still dominated the mid-palate with cassis, plum, cinnamon and cloves and the after-taste was long and mouth-watering sweet. Tannin was softer than I thought given its young age but the bottle can definitely keep for a long time. The best has yet to come for sure.

It was a tough decision to skip dessert - who could possibly walk away from ordering the chocolate and caramel souffle with yuzu icecream - but reluctantly we did so knowing there's zero chance we could even finish half of that among all of us, though I did regret a little bit afterwards but hey there's always the next time.

Waking up the next morning with a good meat sweat in the face and still reminiscing about that wonderful piece of meat was surely an indication of how much I enjoyed the evening and I am glad to have my meat craving properly dealt with this way.

When? October 4 2016
Where? Beefbar Hong Kong, 2/F Club Lusitano, 16 Ice House Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? US Prime Black Angus Beef Striploin
2013 Weingut Schloss Vollrads Riesling "Edition", Rheingau, Germany
2013 Bodega Chacra "Cincuenta y Cinco" Pinot Noir, Patagonia, Argentina
2007 Marchesi Antinori "Solaia" Toscana IGT, Italy

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