We’re certainly not starved when it comes to fine dining options in Hong Kong, but one thing we haven’t had our fill of is hearty, rustic-style family eating that truly epitomises the phrase “comfort food”. Hoping to fill that void is The BellBrook, the latest offering from celebrated Australian chef David Laris.
Although the chef and location remain the same, The BellBrook couldn’t be more different to its swanky predecessor Laris. The dramatic overhaul has seen the Wyndham Street interior stripped back to reveal wooden floors and chalk board rafters, and the crisp white table clothes swamped for even crisper brown paper with a side serving of crayons. The previously delicate smells wafting out of the open kitchen have also been overtaken with a distinct campfire flavour.
The menu is inspired by Laris’ former home village of BellBrook, Australia, with family-sized portions packed with indigenous ingredients served up on everything from chopping boards to handfuls of hay. There’s also a touch of vintage charm here, with Aussie memorabilia lining the walls, convict-themed Snakes & Ladders backing the menu, and ice cream floats adorning the drinks list.
Two stars of the starters that already come critically acclaimed are the black pork Scotch egg, with its gorgeously gooey centre and horseradish crème fraiche dip, and the smoky fresh salad with grilled eggplant, pine nuts and burata (buffalo mozzarella with less backbone for non-foodies), tossed with native thyme and salt bush tomato power. Also worth a spin is the spicy and succulent picked octopus, but I’d pass on the twisters next time – basically pretty looking potato chips on a stick – on account of them being more style than substance.
Making a mark on the mains menu is the native Aussie barramundi, which comes perfectly cooked within an Aborigine paperbark leaf and topped with finger lime, a jungle growing fruit masquerading as red caviar. For a truly indulgent treat, be sure to try the roast chicken, a steadfast family favourite made all the more moreish by a sneaky swab of black truffle tucked under the crispy skin. The only slight miss for me were the mussels, which although offered something a little different via a cheeky punch of chilli, suffered from an oily sauce and soggy accompanying fries due to the trendy but impractical same-pan serving.
The fun really starts when it comes to the desserts however, and with names like Cookie Monster, Road Kill Pavlova and F.O Chocolate Cake (that stands for ‘full on’ if you come with the kids), how could you resist? Be warned however, these gusty guilty pleasures truly do come made for more than one spoon, so don’t be shy to share.
With daily and seasonal specials and a truly inspiring drinks list (best Bloody Mary in town – you heard it here first!), like home, this rustic but by no means bucolic beauty will always appeal to those with a well-fed sense of nostalgia.