Jun 07, 2012|
Blue Butcher (108 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, 2613-9286): Maximal Concepts—the group behind popular nightclub Play—is expanding aggressively into F&B with not one but two new restaurants hot on each other’s heels. The first is Blue Butcher, a NYC-style meat house headed by chef Danny Chaney that serves lots of dry-aged steak, fish and animal parts in general. My friend Garvey (who is always the first to know about and try new restos) booked a table last week and we went for a preliminary taste-test. They’ve really done well with the space—it looks much more open than M1NT and the short-lived Republik, although I guess it’s not fair to compare since, as clubs, the former venues served a totally different function. I didn’t get a chance to sample the Prohibition-themed cocktails, but we did order up a storm of food, from the bone marrow and mussels appetizers to a hefty 32-ounce Australian wagyu rib-eye. If you like Yardbird-style hospitality and the Lily & Bloom vibe, Blue Butcher will be right up your alley.
And then there’s Brickhouse (G/F, 20A D’Aguilar St., Central, 2810-0560), Maximal Concepts’ second venture, whose grand opening is happening as I type. Headed by chef Austin from Austin, Texas, Brickhouse is a Mexican restaurant with a strong focus on light and healthy ingredients, but the stars are obviously tacos, tacos and tacos (chicken, steak, pork, fish, even venison!). I hear there’s going to be some yummeh smoothies too. I’ll spill more when I’ve actually been!
The Vinexpo came and went last week, and with it emerged some statistics that confirm our city’s residents are top-ranked alcoholics. Each Hong Kong adult, on average, drinks about five liters of wine per year, which puts us squarely ahead of other Asian countries like Japan, Singapore and even China. We also toast champagne twice as much as the rest of Asia put together—guess we have a lot to celebrate. In terms of what we like, the market is still dominated by the French—their Bordeaux are like the LVs of the wine world, and we know how much Hongkongers care about their brands. By most accounts, French wines in Asia are the most overpriced commodities ever—and not just the top-notch ones; even the meh ones command a fair price. A chat I had with the GM of the Regal HongKong Hotel (88 Yee Wo St., Causeway Bay, 2890-6633), Glen Farmer, during an Italian wine dinner last week also revealed that winemaking methods in the Old World are often less hygienic (due to open-air processes) than the closed-air systems many New World winemakers employ. But who are we kidding: it’s not like that’s going to change the local perception of what makes a good wine anytime soon.
At the Vinexpo, I also had the chance to meet David Garrett and Andres Rosberg, the people behind Entaste (www.entaste.com), a consultancy that has essentially created an insanely comprehensive database of all the wines of the world (780,000 and counting). They’re currently offering their database in tablet form to restaurants in Hong Kong, like 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Gold and Amber—and I can see it changing the way diners order wines in the future. I can’t speak for everyone, but the way I usually go about restaurant wine lists is pretty random. I stay away from the ridiculously priced ones, have a vague clue about which type of red or white I’d like, and the rest is a game of dice. With a menu like the one that Entaste provides, the experience becomes interactive, and the diner is able to learn more about each type of wine available and make more informed decisions (and give the sommelier a run for his—or her—money). Of course, whether we’ll see these proliferate is for the restaurants to decide, but in the meantime there’s also Entaste’s neat little app (tinyurl.com/d2bjkvm), which gives wine pairing suggestions as well as a lot of other useful info. I just downloaded it for US$1.99, and it’s a handy primer for any type of wine you can possibly imagine. Warning: the app isn’t that stable—it’s buggy and the program likes to shut down when you press the back button. David and Andres, if you’re reading this, I’m waiting for the upgrade!
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