Castelo Concepts is a restaurant group ironically devoid of concept. I’m partial to the odd Oolaa brunch as much as the next gweilo, but the prospect of trying the latest batch to fall from the cookie cutter machine fills me with a sense utter indifference. But, with Saturday morning hangover in full bombastic swing, the decision to take the short walk to The Winery was, if not the enthusing option, the easy option.
The Winery attempts to drag Sai Ying Pun’s gentrification kicking and screaming to the unsightly recess of Connaught Road West. In contrast to the grey world outside, the interior is colourfully decked out like a budget Rainforest Café, with animatronic wildlife making way for antipodean yoga mums cherry-picking carbs from their salads.
After a short wait we were shown to a small alcove in the second floor and sandwiched uncomfortably between two other tables. So close were the tables that my experience commenced with uneasy eye contact with the blonde next door as I decided which bodily appendage to present as I squeezed past (I kept my inner Tyler Durden at bay and went for my posterior). This was followed by further awkwardness and profuse apologising as I flipped mango from my fish taco onto her table.
We slept through breakfast so had to make do with the lunch menu. The mains were expectantly uninspiring (burger, steak, pasta) so I opted for a couple of the more imaginative starters, while Mrs A, persuaded by the promise of stodgy fulfilment, went for mac n’ cheese.
Things kicked-off with the aforementioned fish taco. I received five well-prepared morsels each presented on top of half a lemon (when really a single slice of lime would have sufficed). Each taco contained succulent swordfish with avocado and mango, providing a satisfying start, but a start that aided little in terminating my hangover.
However, the second of my starters, a portly sausage roll, put paid to that.
I’ve been told I have tendency to overvalue length of an inch, but even by my eager estimations the sausage roll measured at least nine. The ample girth was packed with lean pork, enclosed in crisp pastry and covered with a sticky BBQ sauce. Unfortunately, raw onion and an over zealous amount of whole fennel seeds portrayed a lack of aptitude and finesse, but the sausage roll remained adequately satisfying.
When I’d trudged through seven of the nine inches a side of sweet potato fries arrived. The greasy tempura batter that encased the fries was unwarranted but made more agreeable by a smooth sriracha mayonnaise.
As I ate contentedly Mrs A sat with an increasingly displeased expression. There are a few things my wife doesn’t do very well; waiting, hunger and red wine hangovers. The restaurant was not to know all three were in play. I however, was preparing myself for attack of weapons-grade melodrama. This was narrowly avoided as, forty minutes after ordering, a trough containing baked macaroni cheese arrived. The macaroni itself was remarkably light and the crunchy top and bacon lardons provided welcome taste and texture.
There’s little to dislike about The Winery but also nothing to love. Given its infancy I can forgive the waiting and portion size and, with the onset of the next hangover we’ll probably find ourselves back there.
- How much? $495 without drinks
- Where? 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun
- Who goes? Whose who can’t face the walk up the hill to Ollies… or Jaspas… or Oolaa… or High Street B&G.