Afterthoughts – Deep South Cookin’ at Restoration
As a jaded Hong Kong diner, I am always looking for the “next new thing” in a restaurant experience. Last week, my culinary attention-deficit-disorder (ADD) led me to Restoration, a newish restaurant on Wyndham, which promises to bring the flavours of the Big Easy, to the Big UnEasy (aka Hong Kong).
The only other restaurant that register on my radar for cajun / creole food is Magnolia, which serves up some finger-lickin’ ribs and fried chicken, but requires advance reservations. So on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, a couple of friends and I decided to see for ourselves what the competitor looks like.
Upon entry into the 1st floor, the atmosphere transforms from muggy Wyndham street traffic chaos to sun-filled living room breaming with southern charm. I love the ease in which the dining room flows with the glass paneled kitchen.
The restaurant is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Jack and Kathlyn Carson. Kathlyn manages the front of house while Jack is the head chef.
I love the rustic charm of the restored furniture – it reminds me of the sort of rustic charm one would find in an old Louisiana plantation mansion.
Kathlyn was a cheery, welcoming host, and gave us great suggestions on menu items. I decided to get my New Orleans groove on and try the quintessential oyster po’boy, which has been satiating deep South appetites for at least a hundred years. The oyster po’boy, or “oyster loaf” came dressed with slices of tomato, pickles and shredded lettuce, over a thick submarine French bread. The po’boy term was coined in 1929, when former streetcar conductors, Benny and Clovis Martin, opened a diner and decided to hand out free sandwiches to fellow workers during a 4 month long strike.
I loved the gritty cornmeal breading on these oysters. It was a welcome contrast to the brimy soft oysters within. The sandwich was HUGE, and extremely difficult to eat (don’t order this on a first date!). I kept on compressing the sandwich in order to take a bite, but at the end I gave up and ate the yummy bits in between instead. The sandwich was so huge I wouldn’t have been able to eat all that bread anyways! One note – this is not a gooey sandwich slathered with all kinds of creamy sauce, so it helps to add a little hot sauce on top as po’boys tend to be pretty dry. It also made all the flavours melt together.
Our lovely host brought over a selection of sandwich sauce toppings. I am a sucker for Le Creuset, and these little sauce pots looked absolutely darling!
One of our lunch buddies ordered the Philly Cheese Steak, which came at a more manageable proportion. She liked it and found it quite flavourful.
Another friend ordered the soft shell crab sandwich, which was apparently, very delicious. You can actually see the outline of an entire crab in the sandwich! It was topped with the essential BLT ingredients: bacon, lettuce and tomato.
We were curious about the “hush puppies” on the menu, and Kathlyn was very honest about them as they are not her favourite menu item. However, she was so very kind to offer us a plate for sampling. Hush puppies are essentially pieces of fried cornbread, and very dense. I was the only one at the table who liked them!
The mountain of fries came “American” sized, and peppered with cajun seasoning. There was nothing not to like about this side dish!
Our gracious host capped off our yummy lunch experience on a sweet note – how can anyone say “no” to warm chocolate chip cookies and ice cream? I loved the cookies, although found it a tad too sweet – the ice cream actually balanced out the sweetness of the cookies! My fellow lunchies also felt that the cookies could have been more gooey rather than crunchy, but that’s all based on personal preference.
Verdict: This is a great lunch option. I haven’t been to dinner here yet so I can’t speak on the menu choices, but I would imagine something along the lines of gumbo and jambalaya. It’s a great place for laid-back southern cooking, and a welcomed diversion from the all too prevalent French, Italian, Japanese options around LKF / Central. Was it ecstatically fantastic? Maybe not, but it is something different and interesting to try.
Tel: 2536 0183
1/F, 63 Wyndham St.,
Central, Hong Kong