May 1, 2008

The Pawn

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Tonight I had dinner at the Pawn, the new restaurant opened by my friends behind the Press Room. This has been a cool and hip venue lately, having been renovated from an old Hong Kong pawn shop (和昌大押). Reservations are hard to come by, and I was fortunate enough to be treated by one of the owners.

The menu is decidedly British, having drawn inspirations from restaurants such as St John in London and Heston Blumenthal's Hinds Head Hotel. I was really looking forward to this meal, since I had always wanted to but had never been to St John.

We started with Scotch eggs, which had soft, liquid cores wrapped inside a thin layer of pork sausage, breaded and deep-fried. This was a great way to start us off, and partially made up for the disappointment at the unavailability of roasted bone marrow salad tonight.

For starter, I had the beet root salad with goat cheese. This was very interesting as it also included sweet potato, haricot verts, watercress and pomegranate seeds. I thought the flavors blended rather well together.

For main course I had the roasted duck breast with savoy cabbage, which came in a huge portion (all the mains were rather big). While the flavor was good, it was overcooked and the meat was no longer pink and juicy. A little bit of a let down here.

I also had tastes of other mains: the baby turbot was blackened (not really pan-fried) and was reasonably tasty (skin was a tad salty); the rump steak was large but not great; but the roast suckling pig was excellent. The skin was crispy and the pork fat underneath was just yummy. I guess it's difficult for me not to like roast pig anywhere...

Even though I was stuffed at this point (and a little drunk to say the least), we nevertheless sampled a few desserts. While I passed on a delicious-looking apple crumble, I did dive into the excellent lemon trifle, with zesty strips of lemon rind that was prefect on a summer day. I could never resist sticky toffee pudding and it's sweet, sticky and yummy here. Finally, I took a small piece of treacle tart that was also very good.

Of course, we would never dream of having a meal without some excellent wine. We started with the 1995 Louis Jadot Batard Montrachet, which showed a powerful, pungent nose of flint, minerals and petrol. As time went on, the nose softened and became more pleasant, but the toasty oak was still there. Acidity on the palate was a bit high. I could easily see this wine drinking better in another few years.

The first red was the 1990 Fontaine-Gagnard Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes. With the memory of an earlier bottle of 1990 Volnay 1er Cru still in my mind, I really looked forward to tasting this wine. It turned out to be quite interesting, with a nose of sweet, stewed prunes and smokiness. If I had tasted this blind, I would have guessed it was a Right Bank Bordeaux by its nose...but the acidity on the palate would have made me question my guess.

The last bottle of the evening was 1979 Jaboulet La Chapelle. The nose was classic Hermitage, very wonderful and I enjoyed it very much. But the finish was short, and we were a bit disappointed in this respect. Still, it was a pleasure to drink this wine.

I left the restaurant very stuffed and quite drunk...especially given I had started drinking before 4pm... But I will need to return soon to try out the roasted bone marrow.

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