As is now the fashion, I’m compelled to apologise on behalf of my country for events far beyond my control. As a Brit, my sorrow and shame at Brexit knows no bounds. I hereby apologise unreservedly for the unnecessary, senseless chaos my home country has embarked upon and, by extension, imposed on the world.
As a Brit, I also feel compelled to apologise for the new Bread Street Kitchen. The new Bread Street, like Brexit, fails to reflect the modern, progressive culinary society we (and more specifically, Gordon Ramsey) have worked so hard for.
It’s easy to forget amongst the bravado, swearing and idiot sandwiches that Gordon Ramsey’s reputation as a chef is beyond reproach. Before Gordon, London was a gastronomic backwater, drowning in a sea of thick gravy and lumpy mash potato. Somewhere in the early noughties, he began delivering serious dishes with an elegance and deftness of touch that simply hadn’t been seen on our side of the channel.
We have none of that at the new Peak Galleria outpost. Like Brexit, what we have is borrowed nostalgia and broken promises. Bread Street promises modern British cooking but borrows a menu from a more wholesome non-existent time.
If this were an episode of Kitchen Nightmares the 44 food item menu would be torn to shreds. Like the menu, the dishes are dense. The beef ragu pudding, beef wellington and shepherd’s pie would all have me salivating if it were a cold autumn day in London. But on a humid spring day in Hong Kong they had me sweating. And, regardless of the restaurants desired informality, and regardless of how artery-cloggingly delicious it may sound, fried buffalo chicken burger with franks hot sauce and blue cheese saucesimply shouldn’t be on a Ramsey menu.
So with hesitation, we ordered a steak (Mr. A) and a burger (Mrs. A). As someone who wants to understand the pedigree and potential of a restaurant, I shouldn’t have order steak and burger. But the margin for error with all the dishes on the menu (perhaps with the exception of the Wellington) is huge. And here I’ll present my final tenuous Brexit analogy, with its menu, Bread Street leaves very little room to impress and lots of room to disappoint. A great shepherd’s pie is a great shepherd’s pie – but deserves no plaudits. A bad shepherd’s pie is unforgivable.
Shortly after ordering a wooden board of warm focaccia and caramelized onion butter was delivered. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, caramelized onion butter sounds like the stuff of dreams. I was ready to herald it as the finest use of butter since The Last Tango In Paris. I ate it, it was ok.
But the steak and burger arrived soon after. Both were very good. They were tender, juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was well balanced. And, the chips… well, the chips were great. Like mini crispy, fluffy roast potatoes, they were the best I can remember having in Hong Kong. But still it’s hard to be impressed.
Your opinion of Gordon Ramsey will depend on when and whence you came. I, as a middle-class, middle-aged (I’m not, but for the purpose of sentence construction, let’s pretend) chap from middle-England, remember a time when going to a Ramsey restaurant was unattainably extravagant, representing the height of progressive gastronomy. This goes a long way to explaining the many Brits attired Sunday finery (my little family included) while everyone else was in sweaty Lycra, fanny packs and sun visors. And this gets to the heart of the Bread Street’s problem; who’s supposed to be the audience? Is it people wanting a great dining experience or is it people wanting sustenance having trudged up the Morning Trail?
I suspect it’s the latter. If it were about the former I would expect, along with mouth-watering food, mouth-watering views of Hong Kong (why else would you open a restaurant on the top of a mountain). I can confirm that the new Bread Street provides unparalleled views of the peak tram queue.
The staff however, as is usually the case in Ramsey restaurants, are incredible; charm personified and attentive to a fault. Not one of them tired of picking up the wooden blocks that my baby daughter delighted in chucking on the floor. But even they couldn’t compensate for a flawed concept.
With its relocation up the peak, Bread Street Kitchen could have, and should have taken a long hard look at itself. It could have designed a menu around seasonal produce that reflects modern British cuisine. It didn’t.
It’s not quite a kitchen nightmare, but it’s certainly reminiscent of that unnerving feeling of waking up somewhere unfamiliar, looking to your right and realizing you’ve made a very big mistake. Gordon, I have nothing but admiration for you, but you’re better than this.
How much? $798
Where? Shop G02, G/F, Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak
Who goes?Disappointed Brits and sweaty people