Beefbar Hong Kong

Beefbar Hong Kong

Where:
Beefbar Hong Kong
2F Club Lusitano/16 Ice House Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
 +852 2110 8853

Price:
HKD880 (+10% service charge) for the signature tasting menu.  We were out at HKD1,300ish including cocktails and wine.  HELP ME I’M POOR.

The deal:
Beefbar have recently set themselves up on Ice House Street, adding Hong Kong to its other random assorted global locations such as Moscow, Mexico, Mykonos and Luxembourg. Just by its awful name, you can guess that Beefbar is pretentious as fuck and if you were in any doubt, the restaurant is tackily emblazoned with “BEEFBAR, BORN IN MONACO”.  On an early weekday, Beefbar HK is almost at full capacity and to make sure you’re having an experience befitting of a restaurant BORN IN MONACO, as soon as you step out of the lifts, no less than three attractive smiling hostesses will gently wave you into the restaurant as you pass by what seems seems to be an excessive amount of floor staff at every turn.

Beefbar HK has clearly dropped a bunch of coin on its fit out, befitting of the luxury concept they are going for.  Beefbar HK is a cool monochromatic slick interior with a fucktonne of white marble, black leather and a tasteful scattering of brass, lit appropriately by pools of just dim enough amber lights.  I’m always bitching about restaurant acoustics but I gotta say that despite Beefbar’s excessive amount of shiny, sleek, hard surfaces, Beefbar’s acoustically sound ridged ceiling means at least you’ll be spared from enjoying your BORN IN MONACO experience in a fuck no echo chamber.  Enjoying the rare privilege of being able to enjoy conversation despite the almost full restaurant, I ponder the most ludicrously sized menu which annoyed the fuck out of me because what’s the fucking point of importing all those black leather chairs if you can’t even comfortably sit at one without your menu careening into your olive oil dish, your neighbour’s bread or some fancy ass wine glass. HAY BEEFBAR, WHERE EXACTLY IS MY FUCKING MENU MEANT TO GO??

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Despite the hundreds of wait staff that are milling around, it took a ridiculous amount of effort to get the smaller tasting menus for the entire table, the waiters taking two separate requests and three individual trips before our table was blessed with the fucking novel concept of one menu for one person.  Menu logistics aside, after chewing down some fuck yeah bread and a negroni aged in a claypot (how necessary is claypot aging? I’m not entirely sure, but at least my negroni was fucking A1 great), our gang decides to pile in for Beefbar’s ‘Signature tasting menu’, which consists of four sections, “Raw Bar”, “Burger Bar”, “Our Great Meat” and “Dessert”.

The “Raw Bar” component is split into two courses, a ceviche and a tartare course.  The first ceviche duo is the ”Octopus ceviche, cucumber & panzanella salsa” and the “Sea bass ceviche, saffron, fennel & mandarin”.  The octopus ceviche is fairly unremarkable and while the menu may try to fancy shiz up by calling it a ‘panzanella salsa’ (an Italian tomato sauce with breadcrumbs), it’s really just a one-dimensional tomato sauce with some croutons bobbing about in it.  The sea bass ceviche also suffers from the indignity of sounding far more impressive on the menu than it really is, delivering fresh sea bass with some pieces of fennel and mandarin which don’t really pop with any of the faint liquorice or citrus acidity that you would hope for, with the lack of seasoning not helping the whole boring ass affair.

But as we’re at Beefbar and not Seafoodbar, I’m prepared to put my ceviche related disappointment to one side and set my expectations higher with the tartare course.  This course consists of two types of tartare – a traditional beef tartare and a milk-fed veal filet tartare.  The traditional beef tartare is solid but not exceptionally memorable, and it’s the veal tartare that provides the first solid fuck yeah moment of the night.  The veal is more delicate in flavour when compared to the beef and Beefbar play to this, bringing out the veal’s more subtle flavours by pairing it with the strong tarragon with its shade of aniseed and providing a textural contrast with a slightly sweet hazelnut praline.  I would have happily ditched the beef tartare and double downed on the fuck yeah veal tartare.

Beefbar isn’t a warm space and by the second course, one of my homies had already asked them twice to turn the blasting air conditioning down which was threatening to send us straight into the icy grip of hypothermia. Beefbar kept this Arctic theme up with the temperature of their red wine and despite our wine being served before our first course, by the end of our second course we were all desperately clutching our wine glasses to try and transfer some of our rapidly diminishing body heat into our icy as fuck red wine, as clammy condensation still formed outside the glass.  I’m fine with a red wine coming out a bit cool from the wine fridge as it will normally be an appropriate temperature after a few minutes but I don’t want to be served red wine so fucking cold that I’ve got concerns that it’s still gonna be frigid as fuck by the fourth steak course.  We pointed out our near glacial red wine cooler situation to one of the waiters who fetched a more senior dude who just shrugged us off and said “We didn’t want you to drink too quickly!”.  Yeah sorry senior waiter homeslice, don’t quit the restaurant biz to take up stand up because I ain’t fucking laughing at your quips.

When ordering a tasting menu at a restaurant, I always believe that a restaurant should be showing you their best shit.  Particularly if they have the audacity to slap ‘Signature’ on it.  This is why the Burger Bar component of Beefbar’s signature menu beggars absolute belief because what is the mental process behind putting out a tiny ass dried out sweet brioche bunned burger that holds a small grainy and dry as fuck beef patty which is swamped with super spicy jalapeno mayonnaise and then thinking “FUCK YEAH, this red hot mess of a slider is definitely my SIGNATURE”.  Unless Beefbar feel that their signature is providing constant, fuck no disappointment to everyone in their lives.  My feelings on using brioche for a burger bun is well documented and this dried out mess does nothing to allay my firm belief that sweet brioche ain’t fucking cut out structurally for burger life.  UGHHH, BRIOCHE, MY NEMESIS.  Y U STILL A THING?  But the sad times don’t end with the slider, as Beefbar aren’t content to just call their entire menu a signature, billing their uninspired kale salad as a ‘signature kale salad’.  This signature signature double throwdown is nothing more but big chat because fuck, let’s be real, who the fuck wants to eat kale when they’re smashing a night out at a restaurant focussed on how shit hot their beef is anyway?  Don’t we save that trying to be healthy kale bullshit for weekday al desko lunches and green smoothies after the gym?

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Hopes for my steak course were not riding particularly high at this point with my spirit sapped by the brioche slider nightmare that had just transpired.  For the meat course, it’s a choice between the “Milk-fed Dutch veal filet 200g”, “American prime “Black Angus” beef filet 200g” or the “T-bone Colorado lamb rack”. I order the beef and while there is much written about how Beefbar cook their steaks, for all the fancy as fuck bluster and technique, I was considerably underwhelmed.  I always have my steak rare and my Black Angus beef fillet is not so overcooked to warrant it being sent back but it was definitely closer to medium-rare territory than rare.  All I could think of was how I wanted my steak to be juicier and more tender, with not a single fuck yeah steak synapse firing within my increasingly weary body. If any waiter had bothered to ask me how my steak was I probably would have replied “FINE”, through gritted teeth as I wished for slightly bloodier times.  It’s served with some fresh horseradish tartar which I can get behind, more so than the blueberry honey sauce which despite its feeble attempts at being an inventive steak sauce results in a slightly fruity, sweet sauce which resembles cheap BBQ sauce, doing everything it can to detract from the lack lustre beef.  I can’t remember ever eating blueberry anything with a steak and I can’t say I’ll be making it a life goal to make it part of my future steak endeavours.

Beefbar don’t stop the big talk and their menu declares that “All mains are served with our unrivalled mashed potatoes”.  I gotta say, Beefbar’s mash is a big fuck yeah and I decimated my serving, enjoying it far more than anything else I’d been served so far.  But truth, how fucking hard is it to make off-the-charts mash provided you add enough of the calorific good shit like cream and butter?  End conclusion, Beefbar’s steak failed to elicit any strong fuck yeah feelings at all and while the potato mash was a fuck yeah, I was devoid of any fuck yeah feelings for a steak that could at best be described as serviceable and at worst, bordering on being too overcooked. But WTF mate, am I at Mashbar or Beefbar?

We ask for the third time to turn down the arctic level air conditioner which continues to battle valiantly in the struggle against global warming, with each request to do so resulting in mass confusion amongst the increasingly flustered waiters. Our entire table is completely underwhelmed with the beef course and hope to find some salvation in the Dessert “Maison” section of the evening.  At some point, one of the waiters informs just one of our guests about how the soufflés take 20 minutes so we should order it now if we want it.  She replies “OK”, thinking that meant “OK, I heard you” versus “OK, giddy up the whole table wants soufflé, ship that good shit in”.  We were sitting at our table a bit confused as to why we’d been abandoned by the numerous waiters flitting about, until we see about five waiters busily setting up a side-table next to us where two large soufflés are presented with much aplomb.  One is a pistachio and cherry soufflé and the other is allegedly a chocolate, sesame & caramel soufflé with yuzu ice cream, with each soufflé designed to be shared between two people.  They look fucking perfect, rising like a puffy pale green or delicately brown cloud, an inch over a shiny, copper pot.  However the problem is that none of us really wanted soufflé as we’d had our hearts set on the carrot cake.  To our waiters’ credit, when we flagged the ordering mishap to them they very graciously took the whole mix up in their stride, not making a single bit of fuss and politely offering us a couple of additional serves of carrot cake as well. Fuck yeahhhhh, waiters who make the best of a shitty situation without throwing the blame in my face.  However, given the amount of puffy soufflé that was being served to our entire table, we said we’d settle for just one serve of carrot cake.

There’s no attractive way to serve blobs of pistachio or chocolate soufflé and we’re all presented with smeary plates of pale green and brown soufflé.  Even putting aside “the first bite is with the eye” bullshit, my first bite into Beefbar’s soufflé was one filled with unmitigated horror which is burned indelibly into my psyche more than a week later.  The pistachio soufflé tasted strongly of artificial pistachio essence, filling my mouth with what I’d imagine an eggy sponge soaked in saliva, liquid soap and perfume to taste and feel like.  It’s served with a side dish of allegedly sour cherries which are a sickly sweet mess which does nothing to hide the soapy pistachio soufflé we’ve been served.  For all its claims of being a fancy fucking chocolate, sesame and caramel soufflé it is at best a vaguely chocolatey, wet and eggy mess with not a hint of sesame or caramel.  The yuzu ice cream it’s served with is fresh and gorgeous, but who fucking knows how biased this view might be because anything would seem like ice-cream fit for kings and angels compared to the soufflé related crimes against dessert that were occurring right in front of me.  The borderline cruel Arctic air conditioning blast is returned to full force, just to make sure that our soufflés cooled down rapidly so the above atrocities could be even furthered by eating it stone cold.  I’m fucking horrified but I’m also like a mosquito drawn to a electric bug zapper and I return to choke down several more bites of both soufflés just to make sure that this is truly one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  As I force down another spoonful, I quietly think to myself that this soufflé could be used as a blunt torture tool to break the spirit of hard men.  To make them confess to crimes they did not commit before they weep on their knees, begging for forgiveness or crying out for non-soufflé related mercy or some sort of sharp implement so they can fucking end it all.

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At this point, I look over at Ms Two Serves and I hold onto her for love and comfort, looking for safe shelter from this soufflé related abomination that we’ve just endured.  “Don’t worry”, she coos, smoothing my hair down and holding me close to her breast, “We’ve got delicious carrot cake coming to take this pain away”.  Together we stare at this apocalyptic souffle ridden wasteland, surveying the seven dishes of almost untouched congealed pale green and brown monstrosities strewn across our table.  A cheery waiter appears to present a plate containing three round orange discs the thickness of a HKD5 coin and this is when we realise that our “Carrot Cake” has arrived.

Now imagine everything that you love and hold dear about carrot cake, before you systematically strip it out and this is exactly how Beefbar must have conceptualised their abominable “Carrot Cake”.  I’m not even sure it’s legal for Beefbar to call this fuck no mess a carrot cake because fuck, that’s some misleading and deceptive conduct right there.  This “Carrot Cake” nightmare takes what should be rich, luscious carrot cake stuffed with walnuts, olive oil and brown sugar and turns it into three thin discs of dried out, grainy flavourless “cake”, topped with some sort of orange puree which tastes like processed apple sauce.  What should be tangy, thick and sweet cream cheese frosting that you want to rub all over your body to become the best version of yourself has been reduced to a tiny, watery creamy blob which serves no other meaningful purpose except to perhaps be some sort of symbolic representation of the watery tears that you want to let forth from your traumatised body, beaten into submission by this alleged “Carrot Cake” experience.  Then in what must surely be Beefbar’s “Carrot Cake” bon mot, a slice of plain roasted carrot is placed on top of it all.  I cut a piece of carrot off for Sir Crunchalot, feigning my best enthusiasm and jauntily telling him “You have got to try this!” before he realises that IT’S A TRAP, and with the betrayed eyes of someone who has been wronged he cries “Why did you do that to me??”

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Our waiters come to silently clear this dessert crime scene, heads bowed so they don’t have to make awkward eye contact with any of us, in case they might be forced to ask if everything was ok when clearly some bad shit had gone down because all the plates of dessert have been barely eaten.  We settle our substantial as fuck bill and leave with our wallets much lighter but our physical being laden with enough disappointment to see us through 2016 and beyond. That’s where I look at Sir Crunchalot at the end of the meal, press my hand into his and as my eyes well with tears and I tell him in a timid, broken whisper “That meal made me want to be alive a little less”.

Verdict:
FUUUUUUUUUCK NO.  If these are Beefbar’s signature moves, I’d hate to see their non-signature everyday meals.  Fuuuuck it might not even be mid-January 2016 but I’m gonna make the call, Beefbar’s soul destroying soufflé and “Carrot Cake” with a serve of broken dreams will be definitely making an appearance in FYN’s 2016 ‘This is Bullshit’ awards.

 

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