Hong Kong’s hunger for quality alfresco dining is understandable. We want to enjoy the sunshine and steer clear of the air con when we eat. But, with property prices at ridiculous levels, the outside eating experience in the heart of the city usually sees diners overlooking seedy streets or sitting in matchbox spaces where you can barely fit a table. True, there are a handful of spacious spots to eat a quality meal in the open air – but too few.
However, Shelter bucks the trend. It occupies a huge terrace on the seventh floor of Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place, creating a great bustle-free, airy feel, and sports long, fern-lined walls. Vegetation is abundant, particularly with the organic herb garden the chefs use. But it’s the food we’re really here for – and there’s a large selection of standard Italian fare on the menu, with starters like bruschettas, and pizzas, pastas and meaty mains. It’s not an adventurous menu by any means, but since the kitchen uses organic products, we let the ingredients speak for themselves.
We start with the tomato bruschetta ($98). It’s bright, fresh and zesty – the tomatoes adding an earthy tang to complement the excellent toasted bread. And, next up, the handmade spaghetti arrabbiata ($148), a bowl of thick chewy goodness using fresh spaghetti, screams of rustic Italian dining. To finish, we tuck into the anchovy pizza ($168) – but it’s a tad too salty due to the far-too-generous helping of fish on top. This isn’t fine Italian dining but it’s good, aided by that fresh, organic feel.
So don’t come here expecting outstanding Italian fare. But do come here for decent fresh tuck and for an airy alfresco experience above the busy CWB streets. The only thing they got totally wrong was the name. This is no shelter. It’s a delightfully open space which transports you far, far away from our busy city. Lisa Cam
Shelter Shop 718-719, 7/F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Rd, Causeway Bay, 2778 8398; shelterhk.com. Dinner for