1/F, 63 Wyndham Street, Central
One step inside Restoration and you feel transported. Scattering the space is the eclectic yet elegant touch of New Orleans decor, with rooms dimly lit yet still lovingly warm and inviting. Bar stool diners had a better view of Chef Jack Carson and the team in the hot kitchen, but our table was cosy, humble and gave us enough privacy. From the window-side, one could look down from the first floor to the seemingly distant Wyndham Street and grating pace of Hong Kong’s party district.
What looked like painted and restored vintage furniture pieces could be found in the corners of your eyes, in the small details but in a big way. A few quaint gerber daisies at the center of our table was the clincher, bringing me somewhere I’ve surely never been. But immediately, I felt at home, or at least somewhere familiar. The service was similarly warm, as well as knowledgeable and attentive.
I was excited to taste what I already felt comforted by: The Big Easy.
But first, we needed to kick back in our plush burgundy leather seats with a drink (or two).
I am assuming Restoration need to update their Drinks menu online, as I can’t seem to find the name of this cocktail. I apologise for this, and will aim to amend this once I find out. Featuring jalapeno-infused tequila lemon and cucumber, this cocktail (above) is not one to miss if you like a spicy bite with your libations. We also had the Wiling Watermelon ($88) which had less of a kick and I’m not much of a fan for gin. Another cocktail with rosemary-infused vodka (nameless until further notice) was delicious. In any case, definitely scan their signature cocktails for something special and you won’t be disappointed.
*Edit: The Jalapeno-infused tequila cocktail is called the Antebellum, mixed with muddled cucumber, lemon, lime, bourbon and a splash of beer. The Revival is the rosemary-infused vodka signature cocktail with Meyers dark rum, muddled ginger and lime. These two are must-tries!
Food-wise, we started with a salad. This Fried Softshell Crab ($148) was superb. The organic raw greens played see-saw with the soft-shell crab and its deliciously creamy, tarty partner – the Louisiana remoulade. We enjoyed how fresh and zingy the salad was despite the fried crab component. My only qualm was that the batter could’ve been slightly more crispy, as I think maybe it was laid out with the dressing a little too long before being served. Always a toughie.
The Crispy Pork Belly ($98) was another delicious starter. I could not fault this at all – apart from maybe the photo we took… Imagine slow-cooked, succulent pork flesh and melt-in-your mouth fat with its bite-sized outsides fried till crispy deliciousness with cajun and the like. One popped in my mouth and gave me the fattest grin, and I didn’t even realise until the BBQ sauce nudged my lip. Dipping each piece in the BBQ sauce of molasses was the sweet, rich, heavenly crown for a glorious porky king… or maybe his thick brown blanket, the way it comforted our bellies so. Either way, I covered it generously.
There was also lightly fried sage leaf which had a delightfully crunchy bite. The chef had treated the rosemary on our Rosemary Fries ($78) in a similar fashion. And to be honest, we preferred munching on these, and fried garlic, instead of the fries themselves.
That said, there were a LOT of fries – the biggest portion I’ve ever seen! – and we got through a good half of them. Life achievement? Probably, I should’ve asked for the T-Shirt. There was something about the crunch though that felt slightly overcooked about these guys. Ah well..
The Corn Maque Choux ($78) with crawfish ($108) was the most-loved side dish of the evening. I feel like all creamed corn sides on menus, any menus, all menus, should be revamped for this Louisiana brainchild. The braised corn in cream was tender and flavourful, and we weren’t shorted by the abundance of soft, sweet crawfish either. So filling, yet so devastatingly moreish.
The American-sized portions of Restoration did not help me devouring this. But good on them for serving food the best way they know how. Nothing dainty in the slightest, that’s for sure.
So, with a disclaimer – don’t be surprised by how much chicken you’re about to see either.
Jack’s Fried Chicken ($258). Boom! is all I can think to say when I see this again. I’m not sure what kind of hormone-jacked chicken was used for this dish, or whether the breasts just seemed unnaturally huge, but damn, was it tender! However, I must say the tobasco aioli did nothing for this, and looked slightly too watery to pass for a decent aioli. The watermelon pickles were delectable, but again, seemed like additional fluff that didn’t really work. I would’ve preferred more of that BBQ sauce, or something just outright tart to slop on to all that MEAAAAAAT and deep-fried skin. The condiments failed to do this for me.
The real star on the menu for mains was Stuffed Blackened Catfish ($258) which was prepared perfectly with the traditional flavour partner-in-crime: jumbo lump crab stuffing. Ridiculously soft and packed full of flavour, we were so full by the start of this dish because of those big portions… but still finished it all. The ‘lemon brown butter’ as its published on the menu was something more, beautifully rich and easily mopped up.
I will recommend Restoration to anyone and everyone looking for something a little different in dining around Central. This is seriously good food served in the biggest, loveliest portions, in a space that just makes you want to slow down a while, take it easy, maybe even speak with a little Southern drawl…
So why not kick back, chow down and settle down? Lan Kwai isn’t calling your name on 63 Wyndam Street; Louisiana is.