Owing to innumerable indiscretions I’m resigned to the fact that if I’ll be reincarnated as a slug or, if I’m lucky, some sort of rodent. It’s an inescapable karmic reality reinforced by the fact that I’m about to stuff my face with enough beef and wine to render my stomach with Buddha-like rotundness.
Gough’s on Gough is more fortunate. The recently shuttered restaurant has transmigrated up the karmic ladder. Based on merit accumulated in previous lives, Gough’s has reincarnated as one of the many ritzy new restaurants in Kai Kwun. Statement is it’s new name.
From the Beatles on heavy soundtrack rotation, to the creative interpretations of nostalgic dishes, to the décor of aristocratic eccentricity, Gough’s has not just taken a leaf out of the book of Gough’s, it’s ripped-out and pilfered every bloody page. And that’s no bad thing. Goughs was pretty damn good.
Gough’s, and now Statement, is an exemplar of that much maligned term, modern British. Like all the best restaurants that ascribe to that epithet, our Maître D’ was French, the wine was new world and the customers were, by and large, antipodean.
The menu however was an epicurean homage to The Crown. Lunch is termed Luncheon and the Brunch menu is labelled The Britannia Brunch. It’s all as English as a sex scandal involving a minor royal and, well, a minor.
Next to which there’s nothing more English than a roast potato. So it’s there we must start.
I was hoping, expecting even, Statement to be heir apparent to the roast potato of Goughs. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Just look at that them. They’re pathetic. They weren’t crispy, they were the size of Lego bricks and they tasted like they’d been roasted in dishwater rather than goose fat. They had chives on for Christ’s sake. They stirred all the positive nostalgia as a visit from ‘a family friend’.
It’s only really in retrospect I realise how wrong they were. That’s because I had been positively sedated by half a dozen momentous starters.
There was fluffy brown bread smothered with marmite butter (which is as good as it sounds), pump oysters and cider vinegar, soft beetroot and smoked salmon, a wonderful ham hock terrine, sweet lobster meat on top of omelette squares and a sea urchin risotto that tasted like a happy winter’s day at the seaside.
With the Britannia Brunch, all the aforementioned starters were for sharing and champagne was in free flow. There was as fine selection of mains, including Wiltshire guinea fowl with black pudding gravy, Pacific black cod with with saffron potatoes and shellfish consommé and salt-baked fish. On any other day of the week you’d be hard pressed to overlook them, but it’s Sunday, and that means one thing.
The beef we all ordered was delivered ceremoniously on a silver plater. It was pink and juicy
with a Yorkshire pudding and an amber coloured jus (it was most definitely jus and not gravy). Creamy, butter-sodden mashed sweet potato couldn’t quite make up for the roasties, but they did make a commendable effort to do so. It was all quite beautiful.
Statement itself is also really rather beautiful. It’s Jay Gatsby meets a first class carriage on the Flying Scotsman. Large, comfortable booths encircle the high-ceilinged space, in which Art Deco cutglass and ornate panelling sit perfectly below the exposed iron skeleton of it’s former police barracks frame.
As we leant back to both admire the architecture and pop open a couple of buttons, the dessert trolley was wheeled out like a near-death Princess Margaret. The delights with which it contained were the two fat ladies on a plate. Gout-inducing stodge, packed with sweet, delicious flavour and bags of personality.
After Eight chocolate mouse was a big nostalgic hit, while fruit summer pudding was a massive sugar hit. I’ll forgive the fact that there was Victoria sponge on the dessert trolley (as this should only be served with tea upon visitation from the aforementioned ‘family friend’) because it was a fine example of that WI staple and by this time English sensibilities had alcoholicly fallen by the wayside.
We waddled out into the haze of the warm winter’s sun – an alcoholic haze that would carry through to Monday morning. Credit card statements show that a great many more drinks were had in the courtyard and photos reveal we attempted – with some success – to balance said drinks on the juvenile terrorists head.
A jolly good time was had by all. Shame about the roast potatoes.