Neighbourhood spots hold a charm of their own. They may not be world renowned or boast Michelin-star winning chefs but they’re eateries that residents nearby frequent over and over again simply for its convenience and the thrill of being in the know on the local gems. And even in hip Sheung Wan, the newly opened, elegantly tucked-away Shelter Lounge is staking a claim to being one of area’s top neighbourhood food stops.
For starters, it has conveniently long opening hours, catering to everyone’s needs. Early risers can get the day started the right way by feasting on Shelter’s brunch menu, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-2.30pm. During weekdays, lunch sets start selling at 11am-2.30pm where, from $108-$148, you receive a daily soup or salad, main course and coffee or tea. After calls for tea time where guests can nosh on the sweet treats and fine coffee or tea and in the evening, you’re ushered to the second floor for a more romantic dining scene and a menu of tasty seasonal small plates to share with dinner mates. It’s really made for those who don’t want to leave the place – and once you’ve checked out Shelter Lounge’s mod 60s-meets-colonial farmhouse decor, you’re not going to want to.
Those hoping for dinner can expect seasonal delicacies prepped in smaller sizes for sharing and sampling. We enjoy items like the juicy grilled hanger steak ($208) and the pork belly ($168), soaked in celery-root and pickled apple. The ingredients are high quality, with the steak a fine, heavily smokey flavour. The highlight, however, is the pork belly – soft and tender with just the right meat to fat ratio and perfectly shining from sweetness, it’s a dish we could easily order twice.
Though we are impressed with Shelter Lounge’s dinner menu, the true joy of this place is in its brunch choices. On a good day (meaning not soiled by the rain), the first floor is bright, warm and welcoming. As you sit around the long communal table, you’re presented with a choice selection of eggs, breads, fruits and other morning goodies. The classic eggs Florentine with smoked salmon and spinach ($98) is hearty and whole. The Hollaindaise sauce is well-blended with a sublimely satiny texture and we love the eggs – they use ones from natto-soybean-fed chickens, meaning their yolk is extremely yellow (almost orange!), and more pungent and salty. We can’t get enough of the unique natto eggs, so we try the scrambled natto eggs ($98), which come paired with chorizo and toasted sourdough. Fabulously presented, the dish is gentle on the seasonings but gives the tough, dense sourdough a chance to shine. The chicken burger ($118) topped with brie cheese also comes hefty in size but light in taste. Paired with stocky thick cut fries coated with seasoning and some thickly cut roasted tomatoes and onion, the burger is definitely cleaner than your usual fast food fare.
The hard to reach location and all-is-welcome attitude of Shelter Lounge may be a few reasons why it won’t ever become a true hipster joint – but it doesn’t need to be. Rather, we reckon the neighbourhood faithful will drive Shelter’s success.