With a name like Whispers we were expecting to see a stripper pole in the middle of the dining room (being housed in the same building as clubs Shake Shake and Sugar). You can imagine our disappointment, then, not only by the lack of dancing girls, but with the food as well.
Whispers isn’t quite sure what it is. You enter through a bar which leads to the restaurant in the back. The bar has loud purple tones and, quizzically, a large mural of the Eiffel Tower. The dining room is L-shaped and bland, resembling a space you might find at any handful of low-end hotels. It’s as if someone came into money and said “I think I’ll open a restaurant!” without knowing the expertise this entails. The crowd on the night we visited was perplexing too. A group of Chinese gentleman swilling red wine competed for attention with a table featuring a stroller with toys strewn about and a video playing loudly on a mobile device. Unacceptable, especially at these prices.
Talking of prices, if you’re paying $188 for foie gras then it better not be burnt on the outside, which it was. The Caesar salad ($128) should have had a pungent dressing with a kick, not one that has you questioning whether there is any dressing at all. Too bad, because the runny egg on the side was a nice touch. The onion soup ($88) oddly lacked that mound of cheese one comes to crave, arriving instead with only meagerly grated cheese and croutons which could be better described as crumbs. The onions were overcooked as well, leaving them bitter. The menu is also jarring, featuring pricey starters and mains, but also pizza and tapas as well. Again, who is this restaurant trying to attract? The night we dined they were not serving pizzas; I asked if they were out of dough, but the absurdity of this question was lost on my server. We instead asked for a recommendation from the tapas list, and were steered towards the chicken wings ($68). An odd suggestion, but we figured these would have to be some really amazing wings. They were not; the soggy batter fell off at the slightest prick from a fork. Mains fared a little better. The lamb chops ($268) were cooked to the requested medium rare with a nice salty crust. Yet this success didn’t translate to the other items on the plate. Gnocchi, which have the potential to be ethereal, were instead leaden (a hockey puck comes to mind). One stalk of asparagus was like baby food, the other undercooked. The beef tenderloin ($298) was cooked sous vide and was quite tasty, with a discernible beefy flavour.
This is an odd location to open a serious restaurant, which we’re not convinced Whispers is. It’s maybe more of a clubhouse for the pre-club set, something to put in their bellies before the bottle service that will undoubtedly come later. Or maybe it’s just a place for those with money to burn to do so on mediocre food at exorbitant prices. Rex Gregg
G/F, On Hing Bldg, 1 On Hing Tce, Central, 3188 0838; www.whispers.hk. Mon-Sat noon-3pm & 6pm-11pm. Meal for two: around $1,000.
G/F, On Hing Bldg, 1 On Hing Tce, Central