From the moment you are ushered through the swanky doors of Dunhills Central boutique and directed up an unmarked staircase, you know you are in for a treat. There something so blatantly cool about a hidden venue – although Alfie’s by KEE is by no means a secret to the masses.
Alfie’s by KEE has been around since 2010. On this particular occasion, we were discovering it’s newest sibling; Alfie’s. The extension had been described to us as a very intimate space; a British gastro-tapas-bar-cum-whisky joint. And right they were. It’s not hard to establish an intimate rapport with staff here – take a seat at the 20 person bar and you will be privy to every step of the preparation of your meal, as well as be on first name terms with the head chef, Neil Tomes, by the end of the night.
And while we weren’t overly impressed with the range of whiskies they have on offer, what they do have available is quite special. In fact three of the single malts are stocked exclusively by Alfie’s in Hong Kong.
“This is not separate to the existing Alfie’s by KEE, just an extension of it. We want to offer British comfort food with style and sophistication and have people know they can come here for a good glass of wine and fresh, premium produce, every day,’’ assistant manager Thiky Nguyen says.
And she is spot on. The wine list, over 10 pages in length, offers diners a wide range of premium “comfort’’ drinks, from paired ‘’intoxidents & tidbits’’ (aka drink + food) to wine bottles worth over $25,000.
And it’s difficult to fault the service.
On arrival we have a plethora of cocktails, wine and other interesting drinks forced upon presented to us. We opt for the Cachacha Melon Fizz, which, quite thoughtfully, comes paired with cavaillon melon and crisp ham. The cocktail itself is yum. Made using Kamm & Sons Ginseng spirit; a blend of 45 natural botanicals including ginseng, fresh grapefruit peels and manuka honey, plus Leblon cachacha and melon syrup, it’s an easy drink.
Taking a seat at the bar, we started with ginger and wasabi cured salmon with pickled fennel, blini and fresh sour cream ($115), followed by a smoked haddock ceviche had my fair share of ceviche. Alfie’s intoxicating blend of sweet garlic, lime, chilli and UK imported smoked fish, however, was wonderfully fresh and flavourful and by the far the best I had ever had. All parties agreed.
Next came a selection of salami from British Charcuterie ‘Trealy Farm’, in Monmouthshire, UK ($85) which, unfortunately, was not exactly overpowering in its flavor. Hats off to the aged-on-the-bone Hereford roast beef dish($140) though. Succulent, perfectly cooked to just under medium rare and well-matched with a light but powerful horseradish cream.
My only grievance with the menu was that the side dishes were just as expensive as the seafood or meat dishes. Who wants to be paying $100 for market greens?
The combination of wine and whisky saw us craving something a little more savoury for dessert. The ‘Cheese du Jour’ ($95) isn’t cheap, but if by chance they are serving the Stilton Tokaji when you visit – don’t hesitate. A rich, crumbly, moist cheese that is a pretty damn fine match with the ‘Therra’ Podernuovo 2009 red ($134).
All in all, the place will serve its clientele well, who, unarguably, will be businessmen, their clients and well-to-do HK gourmets. Just give the team a month or two to tweak and perfect the menu and it time it will compliment the existing Alfie’s by KEE perfectly.