As the holiday season approaches, we reluctantly embrace the idea that “sharing is caring”, especially when it comes to precious, precious food. Luckily, celebrity chef Tom Aikens has curated a new à la carte menu at The Pawn, designed to do just that, so there’ll be no squabbling over the food, thank you very much. You can anticipate wholesome and unpretentious dishes, the casual, hearty sort that you’d expect to be served back home with Mum and Dad (except you don’t live at home anymore and now you actually have to fend for yourself in the minuscule kitchen that comes with most HK flats).
Spelt and quinoa salad with avocado and roasted sprouts
House ricotta with heritage tomatoes and red pepper relish
Classic British food meets sophistication in Aikens’ new menu. We were heaped with premium-quality ingredients and a refined approach to staple dishes, starting with a seemingly simple quinoa salad ($130) that knocked some socks off. Roasted sprouts and creamy avocado paved the way, with a bed of crunchy romaine lettuce, spelt and quinoa bringing up the rear. This singular and satisfying salad screamed substance and flavour.
Next came The Pawn’s house ricotta ($135), a perfect little cheese served with a dollop of red pepper relish and a stunning assortment of heritage tomatoes. Fresh and sweet, the ricotta worked harmoniously with the tangy toms and peppers to provide a delicious, balanced mouthful.
Charred celeriac and duck liver parfait
A knobbly, unsightly underdog turned fine dining superstar, we’ve been seeing more and more of celeriac in the past few years, for good reason; handled properly (and we expect nothing less of The Pawn), it’s a subtly sweet and super-nutty veg that’s versatile enough to be served with meats, salads and slaws. The Pawn’s take comes in the wonderfully indulgent form of charred celeriac with duck liver parfait ($148). The paper-thin shavings of celeriac retained a pleasant and firm crunch, and slivers of it, along with the velvety, savoury parfait, were eagerly piled on top of house-made sourdough slices.
We were slightly taken aback at the thought of a bright orange carrot risotto ($162), but it turned out that we were in safe, capable hands. A curious amalgamation of fermented and roasted carrots with a peculiar touch of almond nut butter, it had all the elements of a promising and well-executed risotto. Unfortunately, the texture and flavour of the carrots didn’t make much of an impression on us.
Parsley and English mustard lamb rack, chuck steak and scones, steamed mussels
Braised ox cheek and linguine
Chef Aikens’ favourite of steamed mussels in malt beer ($215 for 500g/$385 for 1kg) turned out to be ours of the day too: temptingly fragrant and soaked in a runny, mussel-y gravy, served with robust chips to mop up the juicy mess. A crown of bacon and shallots gave it an irresistible kick. We’d recommend ordering more than one portion if enjoying the mussels with friends or family; they’re absolutely addictive.
We thoroughly enjoyed the textbook-perfect parsley and English mustard lamb rack ($288) and dreamily tender braised ox cheek in red wine jus ($215), served with linguine and a bed of crushed peas, but a special mention goes to the chuck steak ($195 for small/$295 for large), swimming leisurely in a pool of meat gravy amongst shallot, Cheddar and parsley suet scones. A shining example of comfort food at its best, the soaked scones and abundance of sauce were inviting elements for gravy hunters to begin the diligent effort of mopping up the cast-iron skillet.
Frozen lemon mousse
As sweet, fruity and palatable as the Eton mess ($70) and sherry trifle ($130) were, the flavours were predictable, and no amount of indulgent meringue, sponge cake, berries and whipped cream could hold a candle to the frozen lemon mousse ($90). The combination of crumbly digestive biscuit base, tart lemon curd filling and charred, caramelised popcorn topping was an absolute knockout; we highly recommend it.
Under Tom Aikens’ guidance, The Pawn has consistently churned out food of a superior level, and their sharing menu is no less impressive. Though some dishes stood out more than others, almost everything we tried was worth tasting. For those wary of the usual price tag that comes with dining at this established restaurant, perhaps The Pawn’s new sharing menu will provide an excellent opportunity (and excuse) for a dining excursion with family and friends.
2/F, 62 Johnston Road, Wanchai, 2866 3444
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.