There’s something about ducking into a back alley that makes you feel like you’re onto something. You’ll also have to hop over an industrial pipe while you artfully dodge suspicious drops of water from above, but that’s beside the point, hidden venues give you the feeling that you’re in on the secret. And these days, a bar that throws it back to the Prohibition Era doesn’t quite cut it for us Hongkongers. No, we need more. We need cracking good food with outstanding cocktails and an adequate distraction from reality in the form of live entertainment.
Located down the staircase that sits at the corner of Hollywood Road and Lyndhurst Terrace is Quality Goods Club, the live music restaurant we never knew we needed. It’s also a sibling to Peel Street’s boisterous sons Shady Acres and Honky Tonks Tavern, so even before you enter you’ll carry some expectations. Fortunately, it exceeds.
As a late night and walk-in only restaurant, Quality Goods Club opens at 6pm on most days – Sundays they do brunch from 2pm. And when I say 6pm, please don’t be an eager beaver (ahem) and turn up at 5.50pm because you’ll be turned away and have to stand in the alley like a naughty child. When we are welcomed in, we’re greeted with a request for vaccination records which makes sense since they are a performance venue. Plus it’s pretty intimate inside with high-top bar and booth seats dotted around the stage with pink spotlights.
At dinner time, urban walls meet dim lights and sexy lounge vibes. We sat in one of the booth seats, which is comfortable for the two of us. Shame about the massive column blocking our view of the stage, but there are other seats with clearer views if you should be so inclined. On the evening we went, live music started at 6.30pm for smooth jams, with the restaurant getting busier at around 7.30pm before more lively beats came on at 10pm. Other days, Quality Goods Club hosts ticketed comedy nights.
We kicked things off with cocktails from their happy hour menu (available 6pm to 8pm with selected wines and drinks for $70; Australian beer $40). The smoky Ballantine's blended scotch and gin-based ‘Suffering Sunset’ is refreshingly fruity with apricot, ginger, lemon, and single malt mist, while the spirit-forward Negroni-like ‘Goodie Two Shoes’ made with Australian cherry gin, Aperol, Punt e Mes, San Luis and grapefruit has that familiar bitterness that keeps you sipping. But it’s the ‘B.G.T’ with its mix of herbed vodka, yellow Chartreuse and lemongrass oleo with fresh lemon that wins our vote, leaving an appetising tang on my tongue that sets me right up for dinner.
To start, we opted for the soul-soothing crab bisque, and judging by the way our waiter questioned if we were sure that we only wanted one serving, we knew we had chosen correctly. The bisque is poured into a bowl of fresh crab meat and crème fraîche at the table so you can take in all the wonderful aromatics. It’s rich, silky, and more flavourful than a lobster equivalent. In hindsight, maybe we should’ve ordered more than one. Then there’s the meaty-tasting truffle toastie, a beautifully bronzed and engineered sandwich filled with savoury 12 months aged comté, truffle and caramelised onions, topped with fried quail eggs with jammy yolks.
The main event is undeniably the Bavette. Using Wagyu flank steak, this perfectly seared, gamey meat comes with buttery bone marrow and extra crispy fries, as well as a slightly sharp red wine sauce to cut through the richness. When you’re done, you’re encouraged to pick up your empty animal bone like a Viking and place one end towards your open mouth so that chilled sherry can be poured down it, delivering a supplementary hit of fatty umami that cleverly prolongs your main course.
With only one dessert on the menu, Quality Goods Club is pretty confident with The Hot Pineapple, and rightly so. The grilled pineapple foundation comes layered with a tropical tinge of passionfruit jelly, homemade vanilla ice cream, and more hot pineapple to add, while slices of mint leaf add a herbaceous note for a balanced and lighter ending to the meal.
Quality Goods Club is the new hangout spot for many. Maybe not anyone with bad knees as there are stairs and a need to dodge aircon juice, but definitely most. Dates, friends, music and comedy lovers will likely frequent, for there is standout food and cocktails to be had, all at a quality that makes you want to cancel your plans and linger on. So, I’ll see you there at 6pm. Not before.
10 Percent service charge