London House review date: September 17, 2015
Bulldogs was never somewhere I chose to frequent. Even if Hong Kong is chronically short of decent pubs, for me it never counted as one. Their TST branch closed recently, to be replaced by “London House by Gordon Ramsay”.
I turn up from the Mody Road side so enter through a nondescript mall. There is absolutely no doubt that even upstairs, this is very much still a pub. Huge screens are showing highlights of midweek Premier League matches, while downstairs is absolutely heaving – impressive given that they’d yet to ‘officially’ open. A live Pinoy cover band are playing while upwards of 150 people are dining, drinking and spilling out into the Salisbury Road harbourside. It’s only 830pm so come proper drinking and football hour, it must be full-onAll of which is great, frankly. Gordon Ramsay’s name may be in lights above the door, but this is first and foremost a pub with real atmosphere which happens to serve some very good pub grub. Hallelujah. Hong Kong needs more places like this.There’ll be those who say that with his pedigree and reputation, his 3 stars in Chelsea and elsewhere, should Ramsay be putting his name to this sort of place? Absolutely he should. Few have been as responsible for the rise of British cuisine from the butt of jokes to world class and if he wants to give me another reason to go to the pub, I’ll take it.
It may be a step down from Bread St Kitchen in price and décor, but the kitchen is overseen by the same chef and delivers some very solid plates. The only exception is one of the starters of Sichuan pepper squid – and only because I’m a Sichuan pepper bore. It still made for good pub food with a chilli dip, but the expected hua jiao didn’t register. Much better was another starter of aubergine caviar served with breadsticks. Think the smoothest baba ganoush possible with thyme and garlic.For research purposes, a taste of the mini toad in the hole reminds why it’s such an underrated dish, a British classic of sausages, Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy. Incidentally the name allegedly came from the dish’s resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole. The mains really delivered. The shepherd’s pie was – whisper it – better than at Bread St Kitchen. Just bloody lovely, with good fries swiftly stolen by the vegetarian. Great mince and sauce, a perfect crust with brioche breadcrumbs.A shared dessert is another British school cliché of sticky toffee pudding. Here it’s sticky through a muscovado caramel and controversially paired with clotted cream, not custard. It works. My, it works. Order it. I want one again now. Do they deliver?The food plus two vege dishes and 3 glasses of decent Pinot Noir came in just north of $1100, kindly handled by a PR rep. Service was brisk and friendly under the watchful eye of manager Andy Curtis, an old school publican who has run some great venues over the years with a true sense of hospitality. At this rate, he’s going to be very busy indeed.
Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Rd, TST Tel: +852 3650 3333 http://www.diningconcepts.com/LondonHouse