On the surface, it’s a shipshape idea: serve up a variety of seafood dishes in a style – and with an extensive choice of sides and sauces – that recalls steakhouse-style dining. But on the ever-choppy (and changey) strait of Elgin Street, does Ocean Grill have the depth to keep its head above water longer than erstwhile tenant Bizou?
The promising concept is buoyed by a varied menu awash with oysters, squid, crustaceans and all things fishy from opakapaka, mahi-mahi, and swordfish to barramundi and black cod. The décor, meanwhile, falls into the “inoffensively modern and instantly forgettable” category.
We elected to start by sharing a half-dozen oysters ($128) and the calamari ($98). The Tasmanian oysters will go down well with those that prefer a mild creaminess over a pronounced saline flavour, while the calamari – which came in one ‘sheet’ rather than the chunks we were expecting – wasn’t as chewy as some we’ve had, but would have been perfect if taken off the heat 30 seconds earlier.
For mains, the grilled king prawns ($218 for three pieces) were perfectly adequate in terms of flavour and texture, but hardly what you’d call a standout. The same couldn’t be said for the swordfish steak ($158), however, which was the undoubted highlight of the meal. Swordfish isn’t something you see a lot of on Hong Kong menus, so we dived in eagerly to the chunky cut of fish. At the suggested medium-rare, it was lightly seared, succulent and juicy, the perfect encapsulation of the fish-steakhouse idea. The side of basil mashed potatoes ($32, one of 12 choices) paired well.
But what had been a wholly passable meal lost some of its shine when it came to dessert. Some 25 minutes after ordering our chocolate fondant and sticky date pudding ($58 each) we were still waiting. An enquiry revealed that the chocolate fondant takes 15-20 minutes to prepare, information that would have surely affected our order had it been added to the menu. Our mild irritation quickly turned to incredulity a few moments later when we spotted one of the kitchen staff enter the restaurant with a small pot partially concealed under his sleeve. A minute later the pot (containing the fondant) was on the table with the other dessert. We felt duty bound to inquire as to where this stowaway dessert had been shipped in from, and were initially met with flat denials from our servers that it had been cooked anywhere but their own kitchen, before tacit admissions that it came from one of Dining Concepts’ other Elgin Street outlets. They needn’t have gone to so much trouble: the fondant was heavy and managed the rare feat of being both overly rich yet bland; we pushed it overboard after a scant few spoonfuls.
There’s potential here, for sure, but there are holes that need to be plugged, and plugged quickly, if Ocean Grill wants to swim rather than sink. David Cooper
G/F, 49 Elgin St, Soho, 2147 0100. Daily 11.30am-3pm & 6pm-10.30pm. Meal for two: around $800.
|Venue name:||Ocean Grill (Closed)|
G/F, 49 Elgin St, Soho