Sunday, February 27, 2011

The average Brit - Limehouse

Booking into this cute little bistro (excuse my, er, French, I don't know what the English call it) proved quite a feat pre-festive season last year. I tried to book a few days in advance for weekdays (like Tue) but in vain. After the eat-meet marathon that is Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year, things have finally settled down and with a quick call, the booking was granted.

Stilton and walnut toast

A good friend of mine had been wanting to come here because she grew up in Cambridge and loves her British (or as we like to say after a couple of drinks, Bri'esh) grub. When I sent her a review that mentioned Steak Diane she got fidgety like a a 30 year old Hong Kong man who's just gotten his hands on the newest obscure Japanese anime figurine, but couldn't take it out of the bag at work because he leads a team of 30 at a reputable bank.

Steak Diane
When I'm eating with the two friends there that night, they usually hand me all the ordering responsibilities (coz they're lazy), but tonight was different - I let the Bri'esh take over - it was like 1996 again. We started with a Stilton toast, then moved on to Steak Diane (bien sûr), chicken pie and roasted (? I can't quite remember, maybe pan-roasted) pork chop with apples.

Chicken pie
The Stilton & walnut toast was fine - though I can't see what I couldn't make it at home in about 3 seconds - the saltiness got a bit overwhelming after a couple of bites and I wished I'd ordered a sweet white. I didn't think much of it (fine - nothing special) but in retrospect the bread was decent. The Steak Diane was passable for the price (can't remember exactly but it was in the vicinity of HK$200), I've had much better steak and much better sauce (this was tad floury), but what can I say, you get what you pay for. At least it wasn't HK-style sizzling steak that's had all beefiness bi-carbed out of it.

Pork chop
The chicken in the pie was really dry, white breast meat. The soupy sauce was dandy, and so were the puff pastry on top and mash on the side, but the chicken - we joked that it was British in every way. (No offense, I know good chicken exists in the UK, but I think it's fair to say it's not as accessible as it is to the average HK person, and that people do eat more frozen, dry, thick-breasted pseudo-chicken).

The pork was probably the best of the lot, light pink and juicy inside, served with wedges of apple and more Stilton. Flavour-wise the pork was bland (I picked up the bone and gnawed on the usually-tastier sinewy bits to make sure), the apples could have been sweeter and/or tarter (again, they were bland) to counter the Stilton.

Everything was reasonably priced; I liked that the wine list was short, if not average (people get so obsessed about huge cellars here, am I weird for wanting to see some character and expertise in the act of choosing?), and the place is cute. In my worst, too-polite Brit way, I'd say it was "quite good"... heh.

35 Ship Street (in the quiet bit south of Queen's Rd)
Hong Kong
+852 2528 5818

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  1. I was really interesting to see what you thought of Limehouse as we really liked it. That isn't to say I thought the food was perfect but quite honestly I thought it was a lot better than many equivalents in London (and that is an embarassing reflection on our low level bistro food scene)

    I also loved the atmosphere (small, romantic and the owner couldn't be nicer).

    That said I think we did approach uncritically as it is pastiche stuff and stuff your mum makes at weekends!

  2. It's definitely a cute place. I don't think I went with any expectations (I hardly ever do, because expectations tend to screw things up!). For a mid-priced, non-Asian place in HK I guess it doesn't do too badly, but sometimes I just wonder how hard it is to make a decent sauce or to taste the food before serving? If Cafe de Coral can get my tastebuds jumping, why can't a proper chef...? I can't help being critical, it's a chronic, genetic disease...

    I must admit I'm very, very spoilt. My aunt makes a beef roast that is beyond superlative, and my mom is a whiz with pastry.

  3. Bistro actually comes from Russian - don't believe the frenchies when they try and tell you otherwise ...