Monday, September 4, 2017

Fancy Pub Grub

There were definitely other sports bars in town that I felt more like at home either for practical or sentimental reasons, but I must admit as far as food and location go, none of them beat Dicken's Bar in Causeway Bay. Recently I was there on Friday evening to check out some dishes from their new a la carte menu after not being here for God-knows-how-long.

Going down the narrow staircase lined with sports memorabilia and photos it's hard to imagine how spacious Dicken's Bar is at the basement of The Excelsior hotel. I arrived early – well it's Friday and no one's in particular mood of working late - and the place was already packed with people with an interesting mix of crowd, from tourists dropping by for a drink to couple on a casual date or even families with kids for a dinner gathering.

For a bar like this, I felt like beer is the only appropriate drink, and they got a long list of choices available, in bottles or on tap, from the generic choices to some interesting selections from local breweries to around the world. I am into local beers lately so I went for a couple made right in Hong Kong, starting with the Gweilo Pale Ale then the Big Wave Bay IPA. Despite the somewhat non-PC name, I actually did like the Gweilo Pale Ale more this evening, with a crisp citrusy taste and a pleasant, refreshing aroma. It went down so smoothly in this summer heat (and that's why I picked that over the IPA - I thought it's a little too hoppy for me)

Food was equally interesting. I would not think much of pub food normally, but here they do have some innovative dishes, in addition to those predictable ones like Fish n Chips, Shepard’s Pie and Burgers (I am sure those still taste very fine here). Okay, we did start with a bowl of nachos (with the usual condiments but in unusually big portion), followed by seared quail legs served with crispy ham and spinach in a honey pepper sauce. The quail legs had amazing flavor and a smoky aroma, working well with beers definitely.

The octopus carpaccio was my favorite of the evening, in an east-meet-west presentation. The octopus was gently poached and thinly slices, and topped with a salivating Sichuan chili pepper sauce and dots of avocado puree. It has just the right amount of heat in each bite but not overly spicy.

We had a few more main courses to share among us. My favorite was actually the Guinness Beef Ribs, with the bone-in beef cooked with stout and served with creamy corn, melted cheese and plenty of jus-stout reduction spooned on top. It was a satisfying piece of meat great for sharing. We were so packed so we only managed to split a couple dessert. The black forest trifle, served in an old-fashioned glass with kirsch vanilla sauce was a bit simple but delicious nonetheless, paired perfectly well with a glass of coffee stout, just to complete the flight of dishes from their new menu, all prepared with some sort of liquors. How fancy.

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? August 18 2017
Where? Dickens Bar, Basement, The Excelsior, 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Octopus Carpaccio with avocado, peppercorn chili sauce
Web: https://www.mandarinoriental.com/hong-kong/the-excelsior/fine-dining/bars/dickens-bar


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