The Pawn has always been a bit of an institution in Hong Kong, known for its colonial beauty and hearty British fare. It closed for a few months last year to undergo quite a significant renovation, promising customers (with a pretty cheesy marketing campaign) that it would be “worth the wait.”
Under the guidance of British chef Tom Aikens, the revamped Pawn reopened towards the end of last year and, from what I’ve heard, not everyone seems to agree that it was in fact worth the wait. We visited for brunch on a Saturday, eager to see what all the fuss was about.
When I said ‘significant renovation,’ I meant exactly that; other than the original structure, the place is almost unrecognisable. The cosy downstairs lounge area has been replaced by ‘Botanicals Bar,’ an airy, bright room decorated with potted plants – hence the name. It has lost the warm, inviting atmosphere, to be replaced by something almost clinically clean. Don’t get me wrong, it looks beautiful, but if you loved the charm that the old Pawn oozed, you may not love the new look.
Upstairs, the dining room is now ‘Kitchen,’ and offers even more of a change. Gone are the cute mismatched chairs, the tartan and the out-dated yet comforting wallpaper, to be replaced by marble, soft woods and, again, a very clean and polished look. As we settled down for brunch in what now must double as a private room, we weren’t quite sure how we felt about it.
The brunch menu isn’t too dissimilar to what it was before Tom Aikens took over – there are eggs, pastries, breakfast classics and a list of heartier dishes. What might have changed, however, are the prices, as to me $225 for a burger, no matter how ‘extraordinaire’ it claims to be, is rather pricey.
We opted instead for the open steak sandwich, which in fact should have been the one to call itself ‘extraordinaire.’ The steak was incredibly tender, pairing beautifully with the sweet yet tangy red pepper and onion relish, the fresh rocket leaves and crispy onion rings. I’d say this is up there amongst the best steak sandwiches I’ve ever had.
If you remember my round up of the top 10 pancakes, you’ll remember that The Pawn’s pancakes scored third place. It was therefore essential to see if the new Pawn’s blueberry buttermilk pancake was still up there amongst the champions. To start with, you’ll notice there is no ‘s’ on the end of ‘pancake,’ for there is now just one singular pancake. That singular pancake, however, is the equivalent to about three regular pancakes – five points for fluffiness. Although there were blueberries running through the ’cake, as well as a berry compote and vanilla cream, for consistency’s sake we ordered a side of bacon and maple syrup. This caused a bit of hesitation and confusion, as apparently the bacon and the pancake come from different kitchens. We were therefore about half way through eating our pancake (which did taste delicious with the aforementioned condiments) before the bacon (tasty, yet not crispy enough) appeared. On the whole, a decent pancake that would indeed score amongst the champions.
Including a juice, a coffee and service, our brunch at the revamped Pawn came to close to $400 for two of us, which is probably similar to the old prices (as long as you avoid the $225 burger). I’d be interested to see what exciting tricks Tom Aikens has spun on the dinner menu; provided the food is consistently good, I think I’d even be prepared to get used to the radical change in décor.
62 Johnston Road
Tel: +852 2866 3444