This is a restaurant that is easily in our top five HK restaurants for those wanting or needing to eat gluten-free. There are a number of reasons of this, not all of which relate to the food. That said, helmed as the restaurant is by Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton, it perhaps isn’t a surprise that its European inspired fare scores top marks. The glorious whole barramundi shown above stuffed literally to the gills with garlic baby leeks, thyme and lemon will attest to that.
The location of the restaurant on the lower side of the old Police Married Quarters, now re-christened PMQ is fabulous for locals and visitors alike. Upstairs there is formal dining hall with a slightly industrial machine-age aesthetic interspersed with cabinets to give it a rather more domestic look. Interest is added by a view through to a semi-open kitchen and, on the other side, tables and chairs spill out onto an attractive terrace with views over some of the grittier buildings and art galleries in the area. Downstairs the restaurant is more informal with tables inside and an open area outside.
Also high amongst the metaphorical ticks against this restaurant is that it is an establishment that takes food intolerances in its stride, whilst not being in any way a compromise for companions who don’t need to think of such things. In all but one of our visits (where the waitress was new and was quickly rescued) virtually no fuss was made when ordering. This is always such a relief: none of us really wants to feel feel that we have to conduct a catering course on what foods contain gluten or sense that we have had a coeliac label taped to our foreheads when we would prefer to relax with our friends.
One of the indicators of how seriously an establishment takes the need for gluten avoidance is how they deal with the bread issue. Most coeliacs are accustomed to seeing their unconstrained fellow guests served with bread while they are ignored. Even in establishments such as Jamie Oliver’s chain, which appears to be very well aware of all the issues of catering gluten-free, their way of dealing with it is just to omit the bread even in those circumstances where it is integral to a meal – you can have the burger without the bread if that appeals to you…
At others such as Jaan in Singapore they go to the other extreme: on our last visit they offered us a range of gluten-free breads, one of which, a seeded variety, was the best we have ever tasted, and which we would choose over normal varieties if we had that freedom. Anyway, back to Aberdeen Street Social, we were delighted to be presented with gluten-free bread and a pat of butter, attractively served on wooden platters. Another tick in the box.
A main course featuring venison was sublimely cooked. I had a moment’s hesitation when it looked as though the garnish to the right might have flour in it but I removed it just in case and was later assured that it was ok to eat.
Although we weren’t hungry enough for desert, a little staircase was presented with chocolates and other sweet treats on each step. As ever, we assumed we wouldn’t be able to join in but happily this proved mistaken as the chocolate they use at Aberdeen Street Social is gluten-free. That is impressive. As a coeliac you tend to be grateful for what you are given and not expect the full range of a menu let alone find you are able to enjoy all elements of it. Restaurants that show they have thought it through every step of the way in sourcing their ingredients deserve our custom and our accolades.
Brunch with friends here is great too: it is just the place for a long unhurried catch-up. The waiter contributed to the laid-back vibe, being incredibly patient as we vacillated between choices. In the end we settled for a plate of fresh fruit and poached egg on avocado and gluten-free bread, accompanied by fresh juices.
The gluten – free bread made its appearance again , this time toasted acting as the carrier of the avocado and egg.
The piece de la resistance was however the roasted whole barramundi pictured at the top of this article. We were going to order four of these when the waiter helped us out. Thank goodness he did – they really were large. Two between four was definitely the right number. On other occasions we have ordered the salad nicoise, a wonderfully fresh concoction.
We followed this with an Eton Mess, delightfully served in a kilner jar.
On another occasion, just as delightfully, if not as artfully presented, we enjoyed a lovely blackcurrant sorbet.
All in all for brunch, a casual lunch or a more formal dinner this is a great place to go.
Aberdeen Street Social, PMQ, G/F, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2866 0300 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org