Looking for a way to justify that Saturday afternoon shoe shopping expedition? Well, apparently we burn about 160 calories for every hour spent shopping and the more we carry (read: the more shoes that we buy), the more fat we burn… Suddenly a five hour shopping trip and a very large credit card bill seem eminently sensible – new Louboutins and a smaller waist, who can argue with that?!
One of my favourite Saturday shopping spots is Elements Mall in Kowloon – a great selection of shops from H&M and Zara through to Mulberry and Jimmy Choo, not too packed and a haven of air-conditioned zen in comparison to the sweaty grubby Hong Kong streets. After putting your Mastercard through its paces, you’ll probably be feeling a little peckish and knowing that you’ve expended all of those calories, a bit of indulgence is definitely called for! So whistle up past Gucci and Burberry and head on up to the roof where you’ll find Civic Square, a small courtyard flanked with a selection of restaurants and bars (including another Sassy fave, Papi), then mosey on over to the far corner (working off those all important extra few calories meaning dessert’s a given!) and you’ll find American sports bar and grill, Grand Central.
The restaurant’s welcoming and laid-back vibe with an urban edge is the ideal spot to kick back and relax after a hardcore shopping session. Groups sit sipping frosty beers at tall tables that spill out onto the patio, couples snuggle into red leather booths while munching on burgers while bar staff shake up cocktails under exposed light bulbs illuminating the stainless steel bar. East Coast American classics are the Grand Central menu staples but things are kept exciting with a sprinkling of international twists – a little Japanese influence here and a touch of Thai spice there.
After a particularly wallet-draining shopping excursion a couple of weeks ago, we headed up to Grand Central to rest our weary feet, curb our enormous retail-induced appetites and try out their recently revamped menu (courtesy of new executive chef Keegan McLeod). Sinking into a big comfy booth beneath a mural of the New York skyline, we couldn’t help noticing that the refreshed menu also included a brand new drinks selection. As we’d shopped like Carrie Bradshaw, we felt it was only right to make like the SATC girls and indulge in a little liquid refreshment of the cocktail variety!
Scrolling through the snazzy iPad drinks menu, we were feeling a little overwhelmed with choice until our waiter insisted that we try Grand Central’s signature cocktail, a drink with a secret recipe so closely guarded that all he could tell us was that it was fruity… Moments later, tall glasses of emerald green lethal-looking liquor arrived ominously smoking and garnished with rosettes of fresh apple. Cautious sips revealed a dangerously non-alcoholic tasting and yes, very fruity concoction. We decided we’d better order some food before we tipped over into tipsy!
We plumped for seafood to start. The prawn cocktail was outwardly retro – plump juicy king prawns arranged around the edge of a martini glass of shredded iceberg and cocktail sauce – but with a fresh modern kick in the taste, a tomato-based non-creamy cocktail sauce spiked with horseradish. The perfect update to a kitsch classic. The cod ceviche wasn’t quite so successful; cured with lime and apple cider, the cod was buttery soft but just too bland.
Any shortfall in the starters was completely forgotten when the main courses were wheeled out – a juicy Black Angus prime rib-eye steak and a roasted rack of Australian lamb… total carnivore paradise. Cooked to perfection, the steak was 16 ounces of all-American meaty deliciousness. The star of the show though was the lamb rack. Served atop a dollop of creamy buttery mash with a mustard and herb crust, the lamb was cooked to pink-middled, melting tenderness – a great big bear hug of a comfort food dish.
Sides of garlicky sautéed field mushrooms and steamed broccoli meant we could polish our five-a-day healthy eating halos while the devil on our shoulders somehow managed to order the three cheese macaroni – pure unadulterated creamy, oozy, naughtiness that had us scraping the bowl clean.
Eyeing our heavy bags and contemplating the MTR ride back to Central, we decided we still had a few hundred calories left in the bank – so we opted for the chocolate lava cake for dessert, plus a round of red wine mojitos to tide us over the twenty minute cooking time. We were assured that it was well worth the wait… and they weren’t kidding! In a tenth of the time it had taken to bake it, every last trace of molten chocolate and vanilla bean ice cream had been devoured.
A few rough calculations later, we realised we’d overeaten by approximately three hours’ of shopping. Nothing for it but to head back down to the shopping mall to rectify the situation with a couple of pairs of Jimmy Choos and a Zara blazer…
Grand Central Bar & Grill Shop R001, Roof Level, Civic Square, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
Check out Natalie’s blog for all things food, fashion and fun, 3 Bad Mice.