Earlier this year I enjoyed one of the best meals I have ever had at the Mandarin Grill + Bar prepared by fellow Crossfitter and awesome chef Uwe Opocensky. Fast forward a few months and Chef Uwe has switched up running the Mandarin’s 10 restaurants and bars for running Beef & Liberty! The city’s favourite burger restaurant has expanded, taking over the third floor of Lan Kwai Fong’s California Tower and, under Chef Uwe’s influence, has revamped its menu, taking it to a whole new level.
The new restaurant is jaw-droppingly impressive. The space, designed by world-renowned Istanbul-based designers Autoban (who also designed 208 Duecento Otto here in HK), combines the idea of a fun, casual burger joint with the buzzy nightlife scene that Lan Kwai Fong is known for. It features lots of natural wood and bronze, vintage light fittings, dark marble table tops and blue leather booth seating to give it a rustic meets urban feel.
To fit in with its neighbours, the new Beef & Liberty also features an expansive bar, led by award-winning barman, Pawel Mikusek, formerly at Lily & Bloom and London’s Duck & Waffle. Pawel has introduced a number of fancy new cocktails, as well as a wide range of international and craft beers. I asked Pawel for something refreshing and sour after a long day at work, and was presented with The Southside – I couldn’t tell you what was in it, but I liked it so much I ordered a second!
To accompany the drinks, Chef Uwe has introduced a snacks menu, which, as you can imagine given Chef Uwe’s background, are not just your average bar snacks. On a lunch visit the week before, I sampled the sausage roll, made with pork mince, fennel and perfect puff pastry, with a side of piccalilli that was exceptional.
One of Chef Uwe’s most notable dishes at the Mandarin Grill + Bar was the ‘flower pot’. Here, the vegetable crudités are a much simpler variation on this, presented with a pot of satisfying garlic aioli topped with smoked paprika.
Feel free to throw insults at me if you like, but I’ve never been a big mac ‘n’ cheese lover. I therefore didn’t think much of the deep-fried, breaded mac ‘n’ cheese bites and felt they were a bit of a waste of stomach space given everything else this place offers.
The chicken liver parfait, on the other hand, was definitely my kind of bar snack. The crispy shallots and maple syrup jelly nicely balanced the rich, metallic tang of the pâté, making it hard not to spoon it straight from the jar into my mouth.
I was surprised and impressed by the sesame chicken and bamboo salad, which packed a lot of flavours and textures, and was light whilst still satisfying. At only $92, I can see this being a regular lunch favourite.
That said, you don’t go to Beef & Liberty for the salads; we all know this place is all about the hamburgers! Despite being served a little bloodier than I would have chosen, the bacon cheese was easily one of the best burgers I have had in a long time, possibly ever in HK. The patty held together well, the brioche bun was perfectly soft, sweet and bouncy, whilst the crispy bacon, rich raclette cheese and caramelised onions completed it.
Every couple of months, Chef Uwe will be introducing a limited edition burger to the menu. The current one is The Lambo, made with slow-roasted lamb shoulder, mint, cabbage, pickled chillies and spicy mayonnaise. I seriously recommend trying this before it’s off the menu!
As part of the Ultimate Sandwich campaign, Beef & Liberty is showcasing The Gentleman’s Sandwich, which, in my humble opinion, having tasted it again last week just to be sure, is most definitely worthy of winning this title. This steak and cheese sarnie is only available until 20th October, so, again, make sure you get it while it lasts!
When I fancy dessert at Beef & Liberty, the cookie skillet used to be my go-to. Now, however, it’s Chef Uwe’s Oreo. Consisting of crumbled Oreo cookie, vanilla ice cream, chocolate “espuma” (foam to any non-linguists) and more Oreo cookie, this is quite simply mind-blowing. Hey Chef, if ever you can’t find your canister of chocolate espuma, you might find me hiding under the table with it!
Prices are surprisingly reasonable given the location – starters/snacks are mostly around $50, whilst burgers range from $88 to $125. This is just the beginning of a whole list of exciting times for Beef & Liberty, including a food truck! I know that with Chef Uwe at the helm and Pawel at the bar, these guys are definitely going places, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Beef & Liberty
3/F, California Tower
30-32 D’Aguilar Street
Tel: +852 2450 5778