Proof of Passion: Restaurants And Bars in The Time of Covid
If there’s one industry we must applaud for the quick-thinking, action-driven changes necessary in the face of lockdowns, it’s food and beverage. And with no dine-ins after 6pm, well, yet more pivoting became necessary. We get the scoop around town.
Imagine a lush jazz lounge, exquisite Chinese fare and, best of all, a cocktail menu carefully devised to match the vibe, and the first place that comes to mind is Foxglove. So aptly named after the species of poisonous flora, it’s the place to go should you miss the era of speakeasies.
Paying homage to the golden age of jazz and aiming to capture the electric energy of the Prohibition era, its new cocktail menu features an exotic, refreshing rum-based concoction with a hit of ginger and citrus known as The Girl From Ipanema. But if you’re looking for something with a harder hit, The Wallerman Punch is a nod to the world’s first cocktail created by pirates, which comprises rum, cherry liqueur, pistachio, blood orange and a pinch of cardamom.
“The restriction has been a big challenge for us, as we’re known for our live music and glamorous cocktail vibe,” says co-founder Shakib Pasha. “However, our recent menu of new dim sum and Cantonese dishes has been very popular among weekday lunch-goers. We’ve also extended happy hour from noon to 6pm. The biggest pivot has been introducing a disco brunch for the first time — DJs, dim sum, and free flow of Foxglove’s famed cocktails.”
2/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central; +852 2116 8949
The ultimate sanctuary for rum lovers, The Daily Tot serves up one of the most diverse selections in Hong Kong. It recently introduced the No Boundaries Vol 3 cocktail menu, designed by new assistant bar manager Maikal Gurung, previously of Island Shangri-La’s Lobster Bar & Grill, and co-founder Tiana Ludhani. For something that both tastes good and looks delightful on social media, go for What the Duck?, an ambitious blend of homemade coconut chamomile curd, lemonade and rum.
On the subject of the latest round of restrictions, Ludhani says, “The bar industry has learned to live with Covid. When I say ‘live with’, I mean we’ve grudgingly accepted it. We’ve tried to stay ahead of the game to manoeuvre faster than the government’s flip-flopping of the rules. All of us have been forced to be incredibly creative.
“At The Daily Tot, we came up with daytime value sets for two or four people, as well as Daily Tot Sundowners (our version of happy hour) with off-menu cocktails and wines. We also focused on safe, socially distanced daytime activities, such as trivia free-flow and cocktail masterclasses. The support from the community has been unmatched because, let’s face it, Hong Kong is a city where stress levels are at an all-time high. People need their cocktails, and we’re here to provide them.”
G/F, Felicity Building, 58 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2366 6836
It’s the best time of the year for a nice, waterfront stroll with your friends. We love Kennedy Town for the range of gastronomic offers, a highlight being popping into Grain Gastropub & Brewlab at the edge of the district for a cold one. Or a not-so-cold one, if you’re going for a beer that’s a little darker.
The venue has recently introduced an extended weekend roast from 12pm to 5pm with hearty choices that include stout-braised ox cheek, and slow-roasted lamb shoulder glazed with stout molasses.
Co-founder Chris Woodyard says, “We’re using the time to focus on staff training and getting closer to our community with beer education through our Meet the Brewer programmes. Customers can meet the brewer, of course, and get complimentary pours fresh from the beer tanks. We just want to add more personal touches and interactions until things are back in full swing.”
G/F, New Fortune House, 3-5 New Praya, Kennedy Town; +852 3500 5870
If it’s wine you’re after, newly opened Bacchus on Hollywood Road is a stop you’ll have to pencil in. Serving up Asian-influenced French cuisine, the venue also doubles as a wine destination with more than 800 labels from around the world to choose from.
Led by renowned wine educator and sommelier Hervé Pennequin – awarded third place in the World’s Best Sommelier rankings, 2004 – Bacchus offers wine-pairing options for every dish on the menu, as well as designing bespoke wine dinners.
“Even with the new restrictions, we wanted to continue our mission of ‘edutaining’ our guests through showcasing some of the best wines from around the world,” says Pennequin. “Our offers aren’t only at a very decent price, but they introduce more obscure grape varieties that diners may not be familiar with.
“We recently created our Wine Time menu, available on weekdays from 3pm to 6pm, which allows guests to discover and enjoy 18 different wines with unlimited pours. For those who want to line their stomachs so they can drink more, we also have nibbles based on our à la carte selections too.”
3/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan; +852 852 3750 5200
Source: Prestige Online