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Stepping into the revamped Police Married Quarters (PMQ) and through a dimly lit courtyard, we find the newly opened Aberdeen Street Social. The quaint two-story space has been decorated by leading Chinese designers Neri&Hu, their signature style showing through details such as teal blue framed floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, which allow the space to flow seamlessly between indoors and out. The bar is on the first floor, with brass and copper fixtures setting the tone for the modern yet uniquely antiquated space, topped off by a hypnotic installation by Sovereign Art Prize winner Adrian Wong. Little knick-knacks and curiosities, as well as an excellent collection of small works of art line the walls and shelves at every turn. The teal of the window frames is seen throughout not only the bar, but also upstairs in the restaurant. Rustic wood floors create a warm dining space and the semi-open kitchen allows for a glimpse into all the action.
Aberdeen Street Social is the third collaboration between acclaimed British chef Jason Atherton and Hong Kong entrepreneur Yenn Wong, so expectations ran high for the food. The meal began with an amuse bouche of roasted garlic rosemary bread and buttermilk fried chicken with a pine nut crust. Both whet the appetite and were followed by our starters of slow-cooked hen’s egg with black pudding, crispy pig’s ear and pickled king oyster mushrooms, the restaurant's signature "C.L.T", as well as the steak tartare with pickled onion, fresh cheese and sourdough croutons. The hen’s egg was cooked with precision, resulting in a soft and runny yolk, which was richly balanced with the black pudding and the crunchiness of the pig’s ear. The herb garnishes proved to be distracting and didn’t add anything exceptional to the dish. The steak tartare was excellent and well composed, with the pickled onions lending a much-needed acidity to the dish. The kitchen works magic with simple ingredients, as in the restaurant's "C.L.T" starter comprising of sea-fresh crabmeat paired with lightly soused tomatoes that have taken on a wonderfully smoky flavour. Eaten with crisp lettuce leaves, this dish is the perfect antidote to a humid summer day. A main course of roasted sea bass with sea vegetables paired beautifully with the textures and softness of the cauliflower couscous, but we felt that the fried oyster was a bit of an unnecessary addition. Our waitress heartily recommended the braised ox cheek with roasted bone marrow, sourdough crumb, carrot and horseradish mash; while the meat was extremely tender and flavoursome, the dish lacked enough contrasting textures to create an exciting mouthful. We polished off the meal with the JAAL 75% dessert of semi-dark chocolate with banana and calamansi mixed with madras curry spices. The result was an interesting combination of flavours as expected, but a lighter touch with the spices and fruits would complement rather than overwhelm the chocolate.
The wine list at Aberdeen Street Social is rather extraordinary and includes wines from France, Italy, Spain, Australia and much more. Not only is there variety in terroir, there are also quite a few wines by the glass to choose from and the selection of reds, whites, roses and champagnes is astounding. Some of the labels proved to be a little more interesting, boutique and peculiar, but many big name chateau and vineyards dominated the restaurant’s wine list. The pricing of the wines also provided good choice, as glasses range from HK$65 to HK$245, and bottles are priced from HK$350 to HK$48,500 for a bottle of Pétrus. We decided on a glass of rosé and the Aberdeen Street Social house white wine, which was a Clos de l’Elu from Loire Valley. The white wine was light, fruity and quite appropriate when paired with our flurry of British fare.
Service at the restaurant needs polish in comparison to the rest of our experience. We were not initially given a wine menu and had to ask for one, it was difficult to get the attention of servers to take our order and the wait in between our first and main course ended up being 25 minutes. Despite the several downfalls in service, servers were always polite, ready to recommend dishes and provided great explanation of the menu.
A three-course meal for two including a glass of house wine each comes to around HK$1,600, which is to be expected for a dining experience in one of the city’s beautifully rejuvenated heritage sites.