Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Elegant British Fare on Gough

“What’s a restaurant serving ‘Modern British Cuisine’ like?” That's the question I asked myself when I braved the heavy downpour to walk up to Gough Street last week for a dinner tasting at this new restaurant called Gough’s on Gough specializing in such. Pictures of the restaurant and its food started popping up on my Facebook feed regularly and from what I have seen and heard it’s more than decent, so my expectation was high.

First thing that caught my attention when I walked into the restaurant was the impressive décor – that plus that feeling of relief that I could finally seek refuge from the rain. The combination of wood and metal for the elegant industrial chic theme was perfectly done. Of course I wouldn’t expect less given the restaurant is created by the British furniture maker/interior designer Timothy Oulton who has the gallery/showroom just next door. So in a sense this is the extension of his gallery, showcasing what a rustic but elegant dining space should be like. And that plus head chef Arron Rhodes’ well-travelled background explained the restaurant’s modern British cuisine theme.

Up the spiral staircase from the street level entrance is the cozy dining area with both counter and table seating, with a bar along with couches on the side. We sat down at one of the couches for a drink before moving to the table to eat afterwards. I was looking for a refreshing aperol cocktail to brighten the gloomy day so the interesting-named Dr. Frogrig’s Recipe matched well to my mood – with aperol, bianco vermouth and bitters mixed with tonic water. I must say everything in the cocktail menu was very interesting – would love to try them all eventually, probably not all in one evening though.

We were offered the seasonal tasting menu this evening. Just by looking at the main ingredients listed on the menu revealed the philosophy behind Chef Arron’s dishes and his definition of Modern British Cuisine. There’s clear South American influence with ingredients like Kaniwa and Leche de Tigre in the first appetizer course, followed immediately by a dish called “Dashi, Custard, Sea Urchin, Teriyaki”. Then the salmon with curry and mussel sauce has roots back to the British tradition, and so as the strawberries and cream at the end of the meal.

We started with a whimsically plated trio of amuse-bouche bites as a facelifted version of old British fare. The Beef Pop Shots was fun as a twist to beef tartare with a buttery pastry crust rolled like a shot-glass with beef and sauce inside. Then there’s P.B.C. (abbreviation for Potato Beans and Cheese) and English Seaside with squid ink cracker with pickled cockles and crab mousse.

A pair of appetizers were served next with global influence. I was a bit skeptical when I saw “Dashi, Custard, Sea Urchin, Teriyaki” on the menu but it worked brilliantly. Similar to the traditional Japanese chawanmushi, the light dressing of teriyaki sauce plus the sea urchin added to the richness and umami flavor in the soft and delicate egg custard cooked with dashi.

Our next course was beef, a peculiar serving order given there’s still a seafood course that followed the beef before dessert. But later Chef Arron explained to us he felt such order was more harmonic to the whole menu. Anyway, what looked like a single course of beef turned out to be a double course, with grass-fed beef, porcini, shallot and potato done two different ways. First to serve was a seared steak (ribeye probably) with a creamy porcini sauce and deep-fried shallot and potato, and the second one was sous vide short rib with creamed potato and jus. Both were great – I couldn’t tell which one was my favorite.

Well the Fish of the Day was not exactly daily catch but the Scottish wild-caught salmon was delicious, with a creamy curry sauce drizzled on the side and edible flower plated with mussels and tomato halved underneath. Just coming back from a Thailand trip I thought the dish has a subtle Thai influence as well with the coconut milk added to the curry.

And I loved both the desserts – first a refreshing tropical style dish with lychee icecream, passion fruit crisps, gingerbread crumbles and mascarpone mousse, then the good old strawberries and cream with honeycomb and lemon balm with a shot of strawberry smoothie served on the side with paper straw. And amazing petit fours sweets too – I finished all my shares of those even when I was so stuffed after the main courses and desserts.

With a nicely decorated venue with a flair, comfortable interior and a well-designed menu drawing inspirations from both traditional British cooking and ingredients and styles from all over the world, I would say the dinner was bloody wicked.

(The meal was by invitation)

When? July 18 2017
Where? Gough's on Gough, 15 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Grass-fed Beef, Porcini, Shallot, Potato
2015 Chateau Favray Pouilly-Fume
2011 Chateau Haut-Maurac, Medoc
2016 Prunotto Moscato d'Asti 

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