Amongst the list of hot restaurant openings of 2017 was Big Sur, a cool Californian restaurant and bar on Staunton Street that serves West Coast-style barbecue dishes in a casual setting. Big Sur is the creation of Chris Woodyard and Bronwyn Cheung’s Woolly Pig Concepts. Husband and wife team Chris and Bronwyn have been planning this concept for many years, just waiting for the right spot to open up, so when this prime location in Soho with a lovely al fresco dining area became available, they snapped it right up.
Feeling that there are too many restaurants with dark, gloomy interiors around town, the team wanted to do something light and airy, in line with the Californian theme they were going for. The space therefore features blonde wood panelled walls and white stone floors, accentuated by brightly coloured paintings of the restaurant’s namesake town.
Alongside Big Sur’s impressive selection of 14 rotating craft beers on tap, the drinks menu also offers a selection of fresh-pressed juice cocktails. The seasonal menu combines premium craft spirits with fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices to create interesting, refreshing cocktails with no added sugar. The juices are all also listed sans alcohol for non-drinkers. My favourite was the No 10 juice, consisting of pineapple, carrot, ginger and lemon, which was not too sweet, deliciously refreshing and had a good gingery zing to it. As a cocktail, this one is combined with gin and simply called ‘gin and juice’.
Whilst still at the bar, we tried Big Sur’s taco selection. My favourite was the baja taco, made with grilled prawns, “Big Sur-izo” (house-made chorizo), baja sauce and cabbage on a house-made flour tortilla.
The BBQ pastrami taco, with house-brined and smoked beef brisket, was an interesting idea, but I found it a little too salty and heavy for my liking.
Once at the table, our true Californian feast began with a plate of hummus, vege & egg, a really lovely combination of house-made hummus with confit garlic, a soft poached egg and raw and pickled vegetables for dipping.
The chicken satay salad was an unusual yet pleasant recipe combining this Southeast Asian favourite with crunchy romaine lettuce and cabbage, topped with chunks of crispy chicken skin.
I was sad to have to skip the hamachi ceviche, for the sake of the baby, but the avocado cream looked far too tempting, so Chris was kind enough to bring me my own little portion, which I gratefully devoured.
I wasn’t overjoyed by the squid and potato dish, thinking that, in spite of its name, there wasn’t really enough squid and the broccoli was a touch overcooked.
Haloumi is one of my favourite things in the world and I was a big fan of the thick-cut, grilled herb haloumi served atop a black bean-stuffed Salvadorian pupusa.
The whole BBQ barramundi was not only impressive to look at, but tasted divine, having been brined, slow-smoked and brushed with a spicy Thai-style seafood BBQ sauce.
We then sampled a whole selection of barbecued meats, including succulent hickory-smoked Memphis pork ribs, slow-cooked tri tip, pulled pork and wonderfully tender free-range chicken. I was actually most impressed by the latter, which, when barbecued, can often be dry and underwhelming, but here was quite the opposite.
We paired our meat feast with a selection of side dishes, my favourite of which were the sweet potato fries that featured purple and orange sweet potato, topped with house-made mayo and fiery red chilli sambal.
The slow-cooked BBQ beans were also lovely, as were the cheese popovers, which were almost like a lighter, cheesy version of a Yorkshire pudding.
Despite the insane amount of food we had already eaten, we had to, of course, try the dessert. The pumpkin cheesecake was lovely, with a nice savoury-sweet balance, whilst the Texas sheet “stack cake” (only a half portion of which is shown above) was as indulgent as it gets. My absolute favourite of the desserts we tried, however, was the pecan pie, which is one of the best I have tasted to date.
Prices at Big Sur range between $50 and $150 for starters, whilst mains are mostly over $200. If you’re eating in a group of five or more, it’s worth going for the banquet menu, which includes a selection of Big Sur’s favourites, including dessert, for $380 per person. Big Sur, admittedly, took me quite by surprise; I expected it to be decent, but I walked out really quite taken by the place and determined to start planning a repeat visit.
22 Staunton Street
Tel: +852 2529 3001
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.