Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Just another gastropub - Bread Street Kitchen

I will say on record that I am normally not big a fan of Dining Concepts restaurants - I personally never had particular memorable experiences in any of their places (with the sole exception of BLT Burger, perhaps) - nor I am those kind of person craving for the so-called celebrity chef restaurants - you know, where someone who made their name as cooking show hosts, lend their endorsement to some dining outlets around the world but have nothing to do with their day-to-day running whatsoever.

I am saying this just so you got the idea of my enthusiasm level about the recent opening of Bread Street Kitchen, a collaboration between Dining Concepts and Gordon Ramsay (yeah, the foul-mouthed TV personality seen in multiple shows who also happened to be a chef/restauranteur)

That being said, I am still curious to check this new restaurant out with an open mind, so I tried the online reservation page on their website last month and landed us this slot on a Saturday afternoon exactly one month later - yes, that's the earliest reasonable time-slot available at the time of booking, since the other available choices would be like 11pm on a Tuesday evening or something. And as it turned out, this is the third new restaurant we managed to try this week alone - after Neighborhood and The Continental which we went earlier on weeknights.

The restaurant is located in the ever buzzing LKF Hotel building on top of Lan Kwai Fong. We went during the day and the dining space looked relaxed, with bright interior, natural lighting and modern, industrial decor. The only complaint I got was there's almost zero distance in between tables, which made it a bit uncomfortable, especially with a dude sitting at the next table almost well within my elbow distance at just the right angle too. Thank God I managed not knocking his head off at some point during our meal, barely.

Open kitchen just behind our table
You can't ask for a more generic contemporary British gastro-pub menu than what's being offered here. I bet if you take a blind guess of what's in there you would probably get at least 80% right. Seared tuna? Yup. Scallops with some purees smeared on the plate? Yup. Caesar Salad? Of course. Fish and Chips? How can it not be there? Well, I can go on and on but I think you got the picture.

Flat bread, caramelized onions, taleggio cheese, cured pigs cheek, basil pesto
Among the four of us we ordered 3 different appetizers to share. The tamarind spiced chicken wings was finger-licking good with a very rich taste - though I thought it tasted more like an Asian, soy-sauce glaze rather than the usually tangy tamarind, or it could be my palate was a bit off from a flu. The flatbread has good balance of sweetness and creaminess, with the caramelized onion and melted taleggio cheese contributing most of the flavors (with basil pesto nowhere to be seen even though it's listed in the menu) And I also like its warm and crisp crust which was light but worked just fine with the richer toppings. My favorite, however, was the couscous, a vegetarian option in the Salads section. I love that crunchy texture of the pearl couscous with just a hint of exotic spicy kick (presumably turmeric and probably something more) and the sweetness from that of the corn kernels and dried cranberries. This is a salad that I can appreciate.

Bread Street Kitchen short rib burger with Monterey jack cheese, spicy sriracha mayo
For entrees, one could pick from the Mains section featuring a number of cooked dishes, or the Grill with various meat options. Of course, there were also a choice of sides, but as I mentioned, you probably would have guessed what was there. I ordered the restaurant's namesake short rib burger, which surprisingly came without any garnishing on the plate - I meant, yes there were the bun, the beef patty, the Monterey cheese, a piece of lettuce and the sriracha mayo, but that's it, sitting by itself on a large plate. Oh well, I just thought putting a few chips on the side (or for crying out loud, a piece of gherkin) wouldn't hurt. Anyway, the burger's fine - in par with my expectation. The beef was cooked just as ordered (medium rare) and was juicy and flavorful - even though the portion seems quite small for the price - and the sauce was more sweet than spicy. I wouldn't mind more generous pour of sriracha in the mix. I also liked the slightly toasted soft bun with sesame tossed top and bottom.

Eton mess, strawberries, Chantilly, meringue
There isn't much to write home about the Eton Mess dessert, except it was well, a typical Eton Mess. But I want something "light" and that's the lightest of all choices, skipping past those with chocolates or toffees or caramel. It's really hard to mess up putting in slices of strawberries, tossing in some meringues and filling the glass with whipped cream, and great they didn't.

Overall it's a decent lunch and I reckon Bread Street Kitchen is an okay gastropub - nothing wrong with its food, its decor or its service, but I bet there were no less than a dozen similar places offering just the same thing. Then my question became - why would I want to pay a premium to visit a place which happened to have some celebrity chef's name attached to it when the restaurant was just like any other random pick in town (and possibly less difficult to book)? Unless, of course, if you are a fan of Dining Concepts and/or Gordon Ramsay.

When? October 18 2014
Where? Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, Mezzanine Level, LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street  Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Couscous Salad with sweet corn, cranberries, radish, spring onions and mint

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