Foxglove is a difficult restaurant to review. Where it scores is in its location in prime Central Hong Kong, just a few steps away from Queen’s Road. However, given it’s address I must admit I was disappointed that there wasn’t any remnant of the industrial aesthetic that must have once marked the Printing House; instead it is housed in a typically undistinguished office tower with entrances from both the ground floor of Ice House Street and Duddell Street.
Incidentally, I am not sure why their main address is the Duddell Street one as accessing it requires using a slow lift office lift to the second floor, the ice House Street makes much more sense as it is on the ground floor and is much more fun given the designer has taken the umbrella theme along the street-side wall and the interesting entrance.
Foxglove is ‘disguised’ as an old umbrella shop ‘established in 1868’ with a facade displaying a fine collection of animal handled umbrellas with signs suggesting they were both sold and repaired at the establishment. Their attractively designed website tells us that the choice of name ‘Foxglove’ comes from the flower that is said to cure ailments of the heart and is inspired by a well-travelled British gentleman ‘who may or may not be fictional’ named Frank Minza.
Once you know the ‘story’ behind it, the different elements make sense, and like Mak Mak the speakeasy, hidden restaurant helps the transition from characterless office or bustling shopping centre into a different world. We decided to try their ‘Executive’ Lunch, although the secrecy extended to the difficulty of booking: despite trying several times after 11:00am and leaving messages there was no response or even a call back.
It was only because it is so central and there are other alternatives nearby that we thought we would walk along on spec. We mentioned this to the lady behind the desk but there was no apology for our wasted time, the response was just to say “she would check’.
There wasn’t any real difficulty with the gluten question, the salad nicoise would be fine and they could remove the spinach foam from the halibut in case that caused a problem but they couldn’t advise me to order the creme brûlée. This may means the deserts are made elsewhere or the person responsible for making them wasn’t on duty. Whatever the reason most people avoiding gluten would prefer to be warned away rather than suffer the consequences further down the line.
The salad seemed fresh and the roasted fish nicely cooked, although the accompanying vegetables were rather hard. We were unexpectedly offered two glasses of champagne, an offer extended to all Monday lunch customers (presumably to encourage trade, although even with that there were only 4 of two when we were there). Unfortunately, particularly given this was a gift one of the glasses was presented with a very clear smear of red lipstick. Although it was swiftly removed by the charming waiter and replaced, inevitably the incident left lingering concerns about the hygiene.
The metal canopy over the dining area was perhaps there to evoke the inside of an airplane and might explain the brass turbine in front of the stage where it hosts jazz nights. Unfortunately when we were there the air con was fierce so much so that both we and another couple changed tables to try to mitigate it (wasn’t it possible just to turn it down?). I don’t want to write this venue off: it may well come into its own at night. If it attracts good live acts the extensive cocktail bar might be a great attraction. Maybe, despite the difficulties at lunch, we will try it again on one of those evenings.
Foxglove, 2nd Floor, Printing House, Duddell Street, Central/ 18 Ice House Street
Tel: 2116 8949 www.foxglove.hk