Fairly hidden away on the pedestrianised side of Ship Street in Wan Chai you will find this sweet little restaurant. Limehouse looks, from the outside, like a tiny little house you would perhaps find up a side street in Brighton on the south coast of England. The interior is also very cosy, seating around 30 people over two floors. Blue wooden tables and blue wooden panelling on the walls also trigger images of the British seaside, although that is about all that does. The rest of the decor is very mismatched although I quite liked this: an array of empty wine bottles, a strange sketch on the wall, black and white photographs of chefs, a wooden train set, an acoustic guitar and a frame of the stereotypical English phrase “Keep calm and carry on.”
Three of us went for an early dinner at 7pm and when we arrived there was only one other table occupied in the entire restaurant. Towards the end of our meal, a few others filled up but it was by no means a full house, although it was only a Monday night. This did, of course, mean that the service was very good, especially as there were three waitresses huddled outside the kitchen right behind where we were seated, all waiting for something to do.
The drinks list, much like the menu itself, is very limited. They offer a selection of red and white wines (all just about reasonably priced), a couple of choices of beer and a few different types of water. That is it. No soft drinks, no juices, just wine, beer or water. Two of us ordered a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which wasn’t bad, although it was a little bit too warm. Even though each glass was poured at the table in front of us, we were not offered the option of tasting it which I wasn’t too impressed with.
The actual menu (which changes seasonally) consists of four starters and five main courses, serving up modern British classics. Not a huge selection but helps one avoid panic ordering. For starters, two of us opted for the Stilton Cheese on Toast – two thickly-sliced pieces of baguette, toasted and smothered in stilton and walnuts, served with a green salad. This was delicious but rather heavy and rich. The walnuts and the green salad were a welcome accompaniment to balance the flavours and refresh the palate a little bit. Our third diner chose the Petite Fish and Chips which made me wonder if that was supposed to be petite, how big is normal?! It was anything but petite. The photo below was actually taken half way through eating this, so double what you see and that is what they call ‘petite’. I think it was made for giants. Nevertheless, it was very tasty – the fish melted in the mouth and the batter, although on appearance seemed heavy, was actually very light and fluffy.
For main course, I chose the Shepherd’s Pie which was, again, enormous, yet very good. Not too runny, not too stodgy and served in the ceramic dish it was cooked in, therefore piping hot. Sprigs of fresh herbs and little chunks of carrot made it extra special. The Not Exactly Bangers and Mash had an interesting flavour, sweetened by the caramelised onion gravy on top. This dish is named as such because the sausages are homemade without the usual casing. Instead, they are wrapped in caul fat. I strongly advise not asking the waitress what this is, as she proceeded to Google it and showed us a picture of caul fat. As it turns out, it is not too dissimilar to what regular sausages are encased in, but no one needs to see a picture of it, particularly if you’re dining with a vegetarian! There was no vegetarian option on the menu, but my friend was offered spaghetti in cream and truffle sauce, which was not too creamy, not overly truffley and tasted great.
The desserts on offer are not listed on the menu but depend on what is available on the day. We had the choice of Lemon Tart, Chocolate Tart, Bread and Butter Pudding or Sticky Toffee Pudding. Although we were, as my Grandpa used to say, TTT (tummy touching table), we opted to share the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Unfortunately they didn’t have any ice cream to accompany this, and the ‘custard’ was definitely not custard, but the pudding itself was divine and reminded me of the kind served in a cosy English pub.
Total bill came to $300 a head. They also offer a two-course lunch set (menu changes weekly) for $88 which I would like to try, although if the portions are anything like the size they serve for dinner I’m almost certain I would be in a completely useless comatose state all afternoon. But if you’re British and feeling homesick (and hungry) Limehouse is definitely worth a try.
35 Ship Street
T: +852 2528 5818
Date visited: Monday 16th May 2011