LGB was one of the first tea salons to bring macarons to Hong Kong. Focusing on the Parisian experience, the brand has coffee kiosks and salons dotted all over town. And now this self-proclaimed purveyor of fine foods has dipped its toe into Spanish cuisine by opening LGB La Mer in Causeway Bay. Located on the ground floor of the WTC More complex, with the same beige and wood-toned décor as the rest of the chain, at first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking the only items on offer are coffees and pastries. A deeper look at the menu reveals something different, with elaborate pairing ‘journeys’ of various types of vermouth and the celebrated Spanish brand of tinned seafood Espinaler – which the bar holds exclusive distribution rights to in Hong Kong. The multi-course ‘journeys’ start at $450 per person, so we choose a few select items instead.
Vermouth is a long ostracised tipple. Although essential to a classic martini, many modern bartenders prefer to replace the flavourful ingredient when making versions of the drink, opting instead for other alcohol infusions – such as chocolate, truffle or bacon – and simply tagging the word ‘tini’ at the end. We’re glad that this apértif is making a small comeback at LGB and are especially impressed with its collection of 17 different bottles, so we start with an Espinaler red vermouth ($45) and a Yzaguirre black ($65). Served with a slice of orange, the former has a pleasant fruity front end rounded off with spicy notes of clove. Whereas the Yzaguirre has a darker colour with stronger aromas and a treacle back end. The two are solid offerings that demonstrate how vermouth can stand on its own. The canned Espinaler sea snails ($35), with their bouncy texture and mild brine, cut the perfume of the drinks nicely.
The only thing holding LGB La Mer back as a hot hangout is its ambience. If it can shed its café vibe, patrons might bypass the coffee machine and actually order a drink. Lisa Cam
LGB La Mer Shop G008-010, WTC More, 280 Gloucester Rd, Causeway Bay, 2327 8225; legouter.com.
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