Sassy Food Blogger Michelle of Chopstixfix gives us her take on The Press Room Group’s newest opening…
If it wasn’t for (what seems to me) a mile-long hike from the depths of Quarry Bay MTR station to the outside world, I’d be milling around there more often as there are a few restaurant gems to be found in that area. The latest addition is The News Room, the newest member of the Press Room Group and an apt reflection of the commercial surroundings.
As a frequenter of The Press Room on Hollywood Road and a fan of their mac n’ cheese, I was excited to find out if there was anything different about The News Room, and as it turns out, there is. Clearly designed for the cool media and smart-looking business-types, the interior is all wood and leather seating, walls and floors, with an air of 1940s laid-back sophistication. It is quite easy to picture a budding journalist scribbling away in the corner over a glass of whiskey or two.
A bar flanked by a myriad of wines and liquors, greets you in the doorway and one of the first things you might notice are these brilliant Enomatic wine dispenser machines. Similar to what they have at Tastings wine bar, these machines are available for trigger happy corporate, advertising and IT people at happy hour after work. The glasses come in small, medium or large, and if you’re having a particularly bad day, you can help yourself as many times as you like, using their special News Room card.
I settled into one of the booths at the back and managed to have a lovely chat with Kavita Faiella, the Press Room Group’s wine director and sommelier. I’m not big on wines so it was a great opportunity to learn a thing or two from Kavita.
Boasting a selection of just under 200 wines, the News Room’s wine list comes in a moleskin journal notebook form on lined paper. There is a Global alphabetical list (not by country), which has both Old world and New world wines of every kind. If, like me, you prefer cocktails, take a look at their signature cocktails which are created as a reflection of past journalists, writers and journalistic events, such as the Nixon sour and the Hemingway Daquiri.
I had the Love and War cocktail to taste, which is in homage to Martha Gellhorn, one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. The mixture of Pineau des Charentes, elderflower liqueur, apple juice and basil, was very refreshing and a good start to my wine studies!
The food menu has a variety of New York style deli snacks and international comfort food, created by ‘Polish by-way of London-experienced’ Head Chef Kris Bandel, from The Press Room, who I discovered used to work at a couple of my favourite eateries in London!
My gorgeously fresh and meaty Louisiana chilli crab cakes (a signature dish served warm with pepper, Cajun spices and lemon dressing) went extremely well with the Hiedler Grüner Veltliner white wine from Austria, which I was told, is a nice alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
The other two white wines I sampled were the Old world Christian Moreau Chablis, made from Chardonnay and a New World wine from Australia’s Morning Peninsula- Yabby Lake, which, after several large sips, I could detect was earthier and more full-bodied.
For mains, I was greedy. I had their black truffle mac & cheese and the braised oxtail and kidney pudding which I was so happy to see on the menu, that I was practically hyperventilating (I’m a massive steak and kidney pud fan).
Anything with black truffle makes me feel a) posh, and b) spoilt. Mac & cheese with parmesan, mozzarella, pecorino, white truffle oil on top and black truffle shavings? Whoah. I was in truffle heaven. Plain mac & cheese makes me smile with glee anyway, but this was quite decadent, and the smell was just sublime. Bits of burnt cheese on top, gooey cheesy macaroni mouthfuls and sips of wine were making me giddy.
The next treat was the much anticipated oxtail and kidney pudding. I often look longingly at Fray Bentos’ tinned steak and kidney puddings in Taste, but having no oven, all I can do is pine away when I have cravings. This dish was enormous, a large suet dome sitting in a pool of gravy, hiding its meat, and what I loved was how generous Chef Bandel was with the kidneys! With this, I tried 3 red wines – a Portuguese wine called Howard’s Folly, a premium red – Unity from Napa Valley, and Epsilon, (a Shiraz), from Barossa valley. Chef told me how surprised he was at its popularity; obviously some secret pud-lovers out there in Quarry Bay, but I’m not surprised at all as the oxtail was beautifully cooked, though I could have done with less suet, but you don’t need to eat it all.
To end a very boozy, heavy lunch, I had their crème brulee, which rather quaintly, came without its ceramic pot encasing. It was creamy and delicious and polished off with a glass of dessert wine, the New Zealand Wairau River, Botrytis Riesling 2009.
The ambience I felt, is suited to those with a more serious or mature predisposition, and isn’t meant to be an establishment for the achingly hip or young. They have a private dining room for larger parties and an outdoor terrace, which is a great place to wind-down after work. The interior is a place for intimate conversation and enjoyment of simple but high-quality food at decent prices.
The News Room Taikoo Fong, 33 Tong Chong Street, Quarry Bay
2562 3444 thenewsroom.hk