Fish & Meat
Over the past two years, Hong Kong culinary agency Maximal Concepts has been on the up. The group, which is behind LKF’s popular glamour-club, Play, last year launched Mexican hotspot Brickhouse in Central as well as premium meat restaurant Blue Butcher in Sheung Wan – with both eateries becoming instant successes. Maximal is now trying to continue its rise with a restaurant that focuses on ingredients: Fish & Meat.
Where Blue Butcher focuses solely on the beast, Fish & Meat in Central’s Wyndham Street splits its menu between creatures of the land and sea – as well as a few bonuses on top – in order to catch Centralites in its net. The name Fish & Meat actually is a broad definition of the term, where on the menu ‘fish’ ranges from octopus to langoustine and ‘meat’ includes veal and a whopping 32oz Kobe beef steak. However, the name is simple, so expect simplicty here and the mission, it seems, is to drive overindulged palates back to appreciating simple ingredients with head chef Russell Doctrove of Amber and St Betty fame in the driver's seat. He's also worked at award-winning British eatery Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
The 3,500sq ft Fish & Meat looks bare when you first stroll in, with whitewashed exposed brick walls, cast iron lighting and uncovered wooden tables that make the place seem like a chic little Scandinavian cottage eatery. But it does the job – your appetite is immediately whet for some quality rustic food. A meal of fish and meat is just what you need.
But before we get into the food, we want some drinks. And we’ve heard on the grapevine that the ingredient focus spills over into the bar here, so we can’t resist trying the specialty cocktails ‘garden salad’ and ‘farmhouse jam’. The salad is cute and – just like Fish & Meat – does exactly what its name suggests. It’s refreshing and tastes of veggies like basil, asparagus, arugula and celery. You could easily confuse this aperitif as an appetiser and forget there’s gin in it. The jam arrives aptly in a mason jar with a spoonful of preserve on top. After we mix the blueberry and thyme jam with the prosecco mixture, we indulge in a highly fruity affair, which is another dangerous drink to have on an empty stomach…
Then it’s down to the food. The menu separates dishes simply by size – small or large – and has some welcome surprises like fresh burrata and sautéed clams. But we opt first for the sea urchin bruschetta ($95), a plump slab of the seafood draped in a thin film of lard on top of a delicate slice of bread. We thoroughly enjoy the sweet ocean flavour of the sea urchin rounded off on the back end by the lard to avoid any hint of fishiness. Another brave dish is bone marrow crostini ($115). Soft and squishy on the palate, it works beautifully with the fresh pesto. And the homemade duck egg ravioli ($110) sports a thin chewy pasta which gives way to a luscious rich yolk that alone carries the flavour of the dish. The burnt sage butter just pronounces the richness even more.
With enough indulgence in the smalls, we go lighter on the protein and plump for the whole roasted Italian sea bass ($690) to share. At first glance it looks a little burned but the buttery bass actually works with charred skin. As for the texture, it’s soft and luscious – the result of a good roasting – and it’s also supremely fragrant. This is an excellent fish dish – and surely personifies just what this new restaurant stands for.
From the simple-white-plate-and-no-garnish presentation to the décor to the service and even to the name itself, there’s no frills at Fish & Meat. But that allows the food to become the entire focus. In a city with the most restaurants per capita in the world, sometimes it’s good to be reminded that it’s the ingredients that make the dish. Lisa Cam
Fish & Meat 1-2/F, 32 Wyndham St, Central, 2565 6788; fishandmeat.hk.