Chef-owner Jack Carson is doing quite a bit of restoration with his first solo venture, the new Central eatery fittingly-named Restoration. He’s restoring his hometown of New Orleans to life by bringing pieces of the broken city over in the rustic furnishings of velvet banquettes, chipped walls and rusty barstools salvaged from Hurricane Katrina. Through the genial Southern hospitality where assistant cooks flirt behind the kitchen windows and attentive staff eagerly recommend the specials of the day. And, of course, through the food, which is simple Southern Creole cooking.
The gumbo ($118) is a warm medley of crab, okra, shrimp and oyster flavours stewed into a spicy thick broth. Generous pieces of sinewy crawfish, crunchy celery and onions pack into the crawfish crab cakes ($118), a special of the day that is also the chef’s favourite. Both are soulful warm-ups.
Since Carson’s former posts are at BLT Steak and Bistecca, we decide it’s a good bet to order a slab of meat. The USDA Choice Ribeye is a 14oz mini-monster that comes with a perfectly charred surface. The sides, arriving in a compact Le Creuset pot, lack the passionate flavours of the Blue Bayou save for the addictive creamed corn maque choux ($108) which is a tumble of sweet corn and crawfish slivers that leave a fiery kiss at the tip of the tongue. Both the bone marrow mashed potatoes ($40) and the Creole jambalaya ($118) are hearty but nothing to sing home about.
The desserts are a bit disappointing -- the pecan pie ($88) and the much-lauded ‘Ridiculousness’ ($98) – two white chocolate and macadamia cookies sandwiching vanilla ice cream - both coming off dry.
Restoration needs a bit more sprucing up to become a mainstay in the city but the spot succeeds in reviving some new (or shall we say old?) flavours to the Hong Kong dining scene. Janice Jann
1/F, 63 Wyndham St, Central, 2536 0183; restoration.hk. Mon-Thu noon-11pm, Fri-Sat noon-2am & Sun 10.30am-3pm. Dinner for two: around $1,000.
1/F, 63 Wyndham St, Central