It seems that in order to be considered ‘cool’ in the Hong Kong restaurant world these days, you need to serve small dishes, which will be known as ‘tapas’ no matter what their heritage! If we’re going by this theory, then Privé Group’s newest baby, Common Room, is as cool as they come.
Classing itself as a gastrobar, Common Room is a huge space located on Lan Kwai Fong’s Wo On Lane that boasts a sprawling 31-foot long glass and cast iron bar, referred to as its ‘liquor library’. Communal wooden tables fill the area, whilst an outdoor terrace, decorated with reclaimed ship wood, lies at the back. It was named to represent a shared casual lounge space, like the common rooms we all remember from our school and uni days.
Common Room’s main focus is on its classic and contemporary cocktails, shaken up late into the night by three top cocktail mixologists. It also offers a fairly comprehensive food menu, based on world-inspired dishes and served tapas-style.
Once cocktails were ordered (try the Zellweger if you don’t like your drinks too sweet), we tucked into a portion of the tastiest sweet potato fries I’ve had in a long while – perfectly crispy on the outside, lovely and fluffy on the inside. The homemade chipotle buttermilk aioli could have been a touch spicier, yet it was still dangerously addictive.
Little, beautifully presented bites of scallop ceviche followed. Marinated in lime and topped with chilli, coriander and red onions, these beauties melted in the mouth and were packed full of flavour.
As I’ve mentioned previously, foie gras burgers are all the rage these days (hello 22 Ships!), and quite rightly too. Common Room’s Wagyu foie gras burgers, laden with caramelised onions, rocket and a balsamic reduction, may just be the best I’ve had to date. The beef patty was clearly of the highest quality and was cooked to perfection, leaving it neither too dry nor still mooing.
The homemade chicken liver and foie gras pâté, spiked with peppercorn and brandy and served with homemade crostini, was heavenly rich and comforting, topped with a fruity layer to cut through the fat.
I’ve had tandoori fish, tandoori chicken and tandoori most things really, yet tandoori octopus was certainly a new one for me! These glorious little bites of bouncy smoky octopus, paired with fresh mango, sumac and raita were refreshingly delicious and definitely something I’d order again.
Ask anyone to name the ultimate comfort food and there is little doubt that a good mac n’ cheese will be high on the list. There is even less doubt that Common Room’s individual, adorably presented portions would jump straight to the top of this list. Packed full of buffalo mozzarella, Gruyere, Parmesan and Gouda, these little bowls are intensely cheesy and impossible to resist.
Opting for the most intriguing sounding of the two dessert options (from the fittingly named ‘heaven’ section of the menu), we tried the cryo-fried vanilla ice cream. Set alight with flaming brandy, then extinguished with strawberry maple syrup, this proved quite the spectacle to watch – yet the battered ice cream was a little too sweet for me to handle more than a couple of mouthfuls.
Overall, Common Room is a fun, exciting new place where I can definitely see myself spending leisurely evenings with a group of friends, whether for refreshing cocktails or scrummy foie gras burgers. Prices hover around the $100 mark for cocktails, whilst food prices range from $58 to $132 – not bad for delicious world-inspired ‘tapas’ you’re unlikely to find elsewhere… unless, of course, you feel the urge to order everything on the menu. Trust me, it’s a definite temptation!
Common Room 1/F, Wo On Building, 8-13 Wo On Lane Central
2525 3599 www.facebook.com/commonroomhkg
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!