Beefbar review date: November 10, 2015
It’s safe to say that Beefbar know their meat. A chance recent encounter introduced me to the founders of one of the world’s largest importers of high-end meats, the Giraudi Group, of which Beefbar is one of many brands featuring restaurants in locations including Monaco, Moscow, Dublin, Mexico City, Mykonos and now Hong Kong.
It’s not a restaurant you’d ever find by chance. Maybe that’s the point. It’s up in the tower below the Club Lusitano on that bend in Ice House Street. Stepping into Beefbar feels like entering a private club. It’s beautifully designed and finished, with white Italian marble, dark woods, black leather and clean angled lines at every turn. The megawatt smiles at the reception desk are genuine, as is the welcome from the French waitress. Even a week after opening it was busy at lunchtime with a largely business crowd – after lunch there, I can see why.
There are a number of set lunch options named after cities around the world. I was eating with the PR person so lunch was offered, but the ‘Sydney’ with sea bass ceviche and wagyu steak tagliata style immediately jumped off the menu. It runs $330 for 2 courses or $390 for 3 at lunch.
One of the restaurant’s features is the impressive central marble raw bar starring fresh dishes made to order such as carpaccio or tartare. It’s bigger than many kitchens I’ve seen in Hong Kong, a hive of activity and serious knifework.
The sea bass ceviche was a fine example of Peru’s most famous culinary export, a clever textural back and forth with some crisped bread, daikon and black sesame. Light and slippery and not overpowered by its accompaniments.
The main reason you come here is, of course, for the cow in all its glorious forms. Executive Chef Andrea Spagoni is a lucky man as the highest grade meats are sourced directly from the producers, cutting out the cost and delay of the middle man.
Their cooking method is apparently both ‘revolutionary and patented’ but I can see why – because it works beautifully. Meats are broiled at extremely high temperatures and then char grilled, meaning the carnivore double whammy of exterior crisp and crust before interior tenderness. If you’re interested in the serious science behind steaks, then look no further than the legendary Harold McGee explaining how ‘searing’ meat is a complete fallacy and doesn’t actually work.
The point is that the tagliata style is an absolute beauty of a cut and a finish. Look at that colour. The yield to the knife, the depth and range of flavor shows that this was once a happy animal, which can only ever be a good thing when you choose to eat meat of any description.
A small rocket, parmesan and tomato salad accompanies, but it’s the mash that you need to hold out for. Their ‘unrivalled’ mashed potatoes (Ducasse may disagree) come either natural, with gravy and Guérande salt, with jalapeno or mushrooms. The gravy and Guerande had my name all over it and was, frankly, ridiculously good. If mash is your comfort food, this is your dream writ large.
So good that, uncharacteristically, I declined the included dessert of either that French classic île flottante or strawberry tart. Beefbar also boasts a smart cocktail bar, sleek private dining rooms and access to a huge deck for a cheeky cigar. I get the impression it’s the sort of place that will quickly become an ‘in the know’ favourite – so just don’t tell anyone else.