With all the delicious varieties of cuisines on offer in Hong Kong, sometimes I just crave classic, hearty British dishes. British food would never be my go-to food. Give me Thai, Chinese, Italian or pretty much anything else. But there are times when I do love a yummy plate of bangers and mash, or greasy fish and chips; something that reminds me of cold wintry days in England. Note: I will only ever want to be reminded of cold wintry days when I am not suffering one.
Alfie’s by KEE is quintessentially British. It is brought to us by Alfred Dunhill and KEE private members club, both of which were always bound to produce a stylishly elegant venue. Comfortable leather armchairs abound, instantly giving an air of class. I particularly like the black and white photos of London and the big angry-looking Bulldog. Slightly British overkill, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need.
The menu is simple, the aim being to stick to what Britain does best: bangers and mash, fish and chips, cottage pie – you get the idea. Whereas other places that charge the earth for British food might decide to experiment with flavours a little bit, Alfie’s continues to charge the earth for very simple British fare…some of which I could definitely do better myself.
Starters were promising. The prawn and Dorset crab cocktail was more of a mousse than your regular prawn cocktail. Although it looked disappointingly small for a hungry, growing boy, the subtle, smooth flavours made up for it.
I admittedly picked the Ticklemore goat’s cheese tart because I liked the name, followed by the fact that I love goat’s cheese. The pastry was soft and light and the cheese was beautifully creamy. It was accompanied by a beetroot, carrot and apple salad that created a delicious balance between this and the savoury tart.
The hot mackerel was almost like a bruschetta, but a slightly less healthy (on fried bread) and slightly more fishy version. Either way, it went down very well, with the only complaint being that there could have been more of it.
The broccoli soup was pleasant on the whole, although the taste of smoked salmon mousse was a little too strong and slightly overpowered the subtle taste of the broccoli.
Onto the mains: I have already mentioned twice in this review that one of the most popular British dishes is bangers and mash. This suggests that Alfie’s Devon pork bangers and mash, which costs over $200, should be just as good as expected. It isn’t; somehow the whole dish lacks seasoning and leaves a lot to be desired.
The Cottage pie similarly should have been a winner. It looked the part, so why did it not taste the part? The portion was again on the small side and the whole thing was just a little bit bland. Did the chef forget to season our food?
The Roast pork belly and crackling, however was delicious. A little bit fatty, but that’s what pork belly is all about, and the crackling was perfectly…well, crackling! A smear of swede, apple and mustard mash with gravy on top completed the dish.
The Pan-fried seabass with potato rosti and swede and carrot mash was very simple yet also a success.
Moving onto desserts, the apple and blackberry crumble was exactly as it should be: the tart blackberry balanced the sweet apple, and the soft crumble and ‘proper vanilla custard’ made it the perfect comforting dessert.
The banoffee pie was my favourite however; delicious buttery caramel, crunchy biscuitty base, all topped with little chocolatey balls that crackled in the mouth and reminded me of the kind of sweets I used to buy in my school ‘tuck shop’. If I wouldn’t go back for another bowl of bangers and mash, I’d certainly go back for the banoffee pie!
Alfie’s has a very comprehensive wine list, but if you’re looking for something a little more special (with prices to match), pick up a bottle at Berry Bros & Rudd just next door.
My overall opinion of Alfie’s wasn’t entirely awful. If someone invited me back and I had nothing better to do, I wouldn’t necessarily say no, but let’s just say there are plenty of other restaurants I would rather go back to. And if I’m really craving simple, hearty British fare, I might as well save myself the trouble and the unnecessary cost and make it myself!
Alfie’s by KEE
M18-19, Prince’s Building
10 Chater Road
Tel: +852 2530 4422