If I’m honest, my first visit to Rosewood Hong Kong’s fifth-floor dining area left me puzzled. Rosewood is of course a luxury hotel chain – and Rosewood Hong Kong is arguably Hong Kong’s most luxurious hotel. But when I arrived (to have lunch at Michelin-starred Indian eatery CHAAT), I was surprised that it felt like a food court, albeit a high-end one. And given that the prices are not exactly food-court prices (they are much, much higher), I wasn’t running back.
Even after six years in Hong Kong, restaurant prices still astound me. Dinner at a mid-range restaurant often comes in at around HK$500 (or US$60/CA$80) per person at minimum. The night before my visit to Bayfare Social – Rosewood’s tapas-inspired restaurant and bar – I’d had dinner at La Paloma, a well-known tapas restaurant in Sai Ying Pun, for around $700 per person. So perhaps I subconsciously started my meal comparing the two Spanish spots.
After arriving at Bayfare Social, we were introduced to the new chef de cuisine, Jorge Vera Gutiérrez. Chef Gutiérrez has had a distinguished international career, having worked at innovative and Michelin-starred restaurants in Madrid, Copenhagen and the Canary Islands. In Hong Kong, he spent time at FoFo by el Willy, and it turns out he was formerly the head chef of La Paloma.
Bayfare Social used to have more of a Mediterranean vibe, but now the focus is on Spanish cuisine (though interestingly the menu continues to have an international noodle section – perhaps previous bestsellers they want to keep on). The à-la-carte menu has been completely refreshed.
Here are some of the highlights of our meal:
The red sangria ($130/glass or $500/1L carafe) is fresh, fruity and light, featuring Grand Marnier and cinnamon along with red wine. While waiting for our food, we were given a lovely warm bread bucket.
The pan con tomate ($65) with grated Spanish tomato sits atop crystal bread and is drizzled with Arbequina olive oil – a classic done well. The olive oil is the chef’s favourite and has a distinctive mellow flavour.
You might have already seen the scallop tiradito ($180) on Instagram. This dish is a showstopper in both looks and taste. Fresh Hokkaido scallops are served with an escabeche (vinegar-based) dressing and charred avocado. The made-in-house black olive powder adds an interesting twist.
We were able to feast our eyes on the Spanish tomatoes used in the tomato salad ($140). You don’t see these tomatoes in Hong Kong every day, and they were very sweet and plump. The Chardonnay dressing and Spanish anchovies are nice accompaniments, adding acid, salt and fat to the sweet freshness of the tomatoes.
The tortilla de patatas ($120 or $150 with Ibérico ham) is delicious. Eaten traditionally for breakfast in Spain, Spanish tortillas are often served as appetisers here in Hong Kong. I’d happily eat this version at any time of the day; it’s moist, hearty and, while light on the egg, has a distinctly eggy flavour.
We’re told the grilled Spanish sea bass ($260) has been a hit with diners, and we can see why. The quality of the fish is great, and the salty, smoky roasted red pepper sauce is a welcome change from the sweetish sauces that often accompany fish dishes in this city. Good value for money too.
The cochinillo asado ($460), or Spanish suckling pig, is more of a splurge. The pig is cooked for 14 hours and then roasted in Bayfare Social’s pizza oven, resulting in tender meat and thin, cracker-like skin. We especially loved the sauce made from the pig’s head – savoury, with a rich depth of flavour. We poured this sauce over the suckling pig as well as the accompanying potatoes and padrón peppers!
Bayfare Social’s paella ($380 for small or $530 for large) contains lobster stock that’s made fresh every morning. Though there were just three of us dining together, we opted for the large version of the squid-ink paella – which is usually recommended for 4–5 guests – and we nearly polished off the whole thing! The rice with aioli has great flavour and bite (though not as much crunchy socarrat as we would have liked), but my oh my, the grilled Spanish octopus is outstanding.
Our meal ended with Catalan cream ($80) and churros ($80). Both are solid, though the churros were my favourite. They have a wonderful bread-like texture, which I prefer over the crunchier versions.
Bayfare Social is definitely worth a visit. It’s still casual, but more elegant than La Paloma (don’t get me wrong – I love La Paloma, but I think it’s more quirky and comfort food focused), with similar prices. Perhaps it’s like a little sister to the refined and more expensive La Rambla at ifc mall. Overall, the food is delicious and the prices are fair, reflective of its location in the casual dining section of Rosewood Hong Kong.
If you’re in the area for lunch, note there is a good-value weekday lunch offering (11:30am–5pm) that includes six types of Spanish-style sandwiches starting from $125 and a paella of the day starting from $140. There is also a daily happy hour from 3–6pm with two hours of free-flow cava, selected red and white wine, Spanish beer and three types of cocktails paired with two sharing dishes from 11 choices of Spanish tapas (each additional tapas is $60).
5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 3981 8732
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.