It seems that in order to be considered ‘cool’ in the Hong Kong restaurant world these days, you need to serve small dishes, which will be known as ‘tapas’ no matter their heritage. If we’re going by this theory, then Privé Group’s newest baby, Common Room, is as cool as they come.
Classing itself as a gastrobar, Common Room, on Wo On Lane in Lan Kwai Fong, is a huge space that boasts a sprawling 31-foot long glass and cast iron bar, which it quite fittingly refers to as a ‘liquor library’. Communal wooden tables fill the space, whilst an outdoor terrace, decorated with reclaimed ship wood, lies at the back. It was named to represent a shared, casual lounge space, like the common rooms we all remember from our school and uni days.
Common Room’s main focus is on its classic and contemporary cocktails, shaken up late into the night by three top cocktail mixologists. It does also offer a fairly comprehensive food menu, based on world-inspired dishes and served tapas style.
Once cocktails were ordered (try the Zellweger if you don’t like your drinks too sweet), we tucked into a portion of the tastiest sweet potato fries I’ve had in a long while: perfectly crispy on the outside whilst lovely and fluffy on the inside. The homemade chipotle buttermilk aioli could have been a touch spicier, yet it was still dangerously addictive.
Little, beautifully presented bites of scallop ceviche followed. Marinated in lime and topped with chilli, coriander and red onions, these beauties melted in the mouth and were packed full of flavour.
As I’ve mentioned previously, foie gras burgers are all the rage these days (remember 22 Ships and Stone Nullah Tavern?), and quite rightly too. Common Room’s wagyu foie gras burgers, laden with caramelised onions, rocket and a balsamic reduction, may just be the best I have had to date. The beef patty was clearly of the highest quality and was cooked to perfection, leaving it neither too dry nor still mooing.
The homemade chicken liver and foie gras pate, spiked with peppercorn and brandy and served with homemade crostini was heavenly rich and comforting, topped with a fruity layer to cut through the fat.
I’ve had tandoori fish, tandoori chicken, tandoori most things really, yet tandoori octopus was certainly a new one for me. These glorious little bites of bouncy, smoky octopus, paired with fresh mango, sumac and raita were refreshingly delicious and definitely something I’d order again.
Ask anyone to name the ultimate comfort food and there is little doubt that a good mac + cheese will be high on the list. There is even less doubt that Common Room’s individual, beautifully presented portions would jump straight to the top of this list. Packed full of buffalo mozzarella, Gruyere, Parmesan and Gouda, these little bowls are intensely cheesy and impossible to resist.
Opting for the most intriguing sounding of the two dessert options (from the fittingly named ‘heaven’ section of the menu), we tried the cryo-fried vanilla ice cream. First set alight with flaming brandy, this bowl of battered ice cream was then extinguished with strawberry maple syrup – quite the spectacle to watch, yet for me the whole thing was a little too sweet to be able to handle more than a couple of mouthfuls.
Overall, Common Room is a fun, exciting new place where I can definitely see myself spending leisurely evenings with a group of friends, whether for refreshing cocktails or scrummy foie gras burgers. Prices hover around the $100 mark for cocktails, whilst food prices range from $58 to $132 – not bad for delicious world-inspired ‘tapas’ you’re unlikely to find elsewhere, unless of course you feel the urge to order everything on the menu; trust me, it’s a definite temptation…
1/F, Wo On Building
8-13 Wo On Lane
Tel: +852 2525 3599