I’ve always been a fan of Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships and Ham & Sherry, both on Ship Street, yet I must admit I was getting a little bored of the Spanish (yet not so Spanish) theme. When I heard that he was opening a third restaurant, this time in newly refurbished PMQ in Central, and this time serving ‘modern British’ cuisine, this really got my attention and I have been counting down the days until Aberdeen Street Social opened, only finally getting round to trying it for brunch on the lovely mid-week public holiday – I love it when those little days off pop up out of nowhere!
The two-storey restaurant on Aberdeen Street (obvs) has a bit of something for everyone. Downstairs is a cocktail bar and café, with a fun space for all-day dining that spills out onto a patio overlooking lovely gardens (with real grass, might I add – a novelty in Central!). Downstairs is also home to Sweet Social, a bakery and retail shop that serves some seriously good treats.
Meanwhile, upstairs is more of an elegant restaurant, yet still a casual, comfortable one. They have maintained elements of the original historic building, teaming these with contemporary touches such as teal window frames and slick leather chairs. Quirky artwork also hangs on the funky wallpaper-lined staircase as you head up to the dining room.
Brunch is one of my favourite meals; you can eat breakfast-style food, lunch-style food and a range of desserts all in one sitting, without anyone judging you. Chances are you won’t have had breakfast and perhaps you may have even done a little workout beforehand, mainly to pass the time when you would otherwise have been thinking about food, and, at least in my case, so that you can eat more and feel less guilty about it.
Brunch at Aberdeen Street Social (I will refrain from using the rather unfortunate acronym) started healthy-ish, with a plate of avocado on toast with 2 poached eggs and extra bacon. This is obviously a very simple dish, and one that is easy enough to make at home, yet here the quality of the ingredients truly shone. Everything from the home-baked multigrain toast, to the lovely buttery avocado that was just subtly kissed with a touch of lemon zest, to the perfect poached eggs and truly British-tasting bacon was excellent.
Getting less healthy, the smoked onion, goat’s curd and king oyster mushroom flatbread (read: pizza) was also a hit. The dough was light and fresh, serving as a delicious bed for the lovely toppings. I would, however, have liked a little more goat’s cheese to go with the flavoursome smoked onion, as some pieces were slightly lacking.
Although they moved away from the British theme, the pulled pork empanadas were delicious. Five little parcels of pastry encased succulent pulled pork, served with smoky barbecue sauce. I suppose, if you wanted to believe Atherton was sticking to his British theme, they could be loosely linked to a very posh Cornish pasty, but I’d rather have these than a Cornish pasty any day.
Meanwhile, thirsty for some kind of brunch-style cocktail, I searched the menu for a Bellini or Buck’s Fizz equivalent, but the closest thing I found was a Pea-lini, made with salted pea cordial, Herbsaint, fresh lemon juice, smashed mint, Prosecco and, apparently, British summer. I was unsure about the pea cordial, but it was that last ingredient on the list that sold it to me. It was a lovely, refreshing drink that I could quite easily have ordered many more of.
I was pleased to see that the Sweet Social part of the brunch menu was just as long, if not longer, than the savoury part. From here we chose the ‘JAAL 75%’ chocolate ice cream, which was sweet and heavenly, served with chunks of chewy brownie and crunchy chocolate balls. The peanut butter cookie, however, was even better. Both crunchy and chewy at once, for any peanut butter lover, this cookie was pretty magical.
Last, but not least, the Kouign Amann was also pretty special. This sweet, flaky, buttery pastry had a beautiful caramelised crust that basically took a standard croissant-style pastry and elevated it to a whole other level.
Service was mostly excellent; there were one or two servers who didn’t seem very knowledgeable about the menu, but on the whole they were was friendly and efficient. We paid $800 for the two of us and definitely didn’t leave hungry. I’d say that brunch at Aberdeen Street Social is a pleasant alternative to a mass-produced hotel buffet brunch. It’s a place you can linger for hours in a comfortable, social setting and somewhere I will definitely be returning to – I need to try the dinner menu after all!
Aberdeen Street Social
G/F, 35 Aberdeen Street
(enter through gate closest to Hollywood Road)
Tel: +852 2866 0300