Welcome to the mysterious legacy of The Optimist where the restaurant concept is woven around a story of a gentlemen that is one of the most captivating and yet unknown celebrities from the 19th century. Inspired by some whimsy that creates mystery and intrigue, The Optimist is a welcome addition to the dining scene in Wan Chai precinct, Hong Kong. mylifestylenews writes……
What we know for sure is that there are more mysteries than certainties about what happened in the past. So whatever you make of this, just know that the restaurant serves delicious food from northern Spain and has a beautiful ambience that references a quasi informal conservatory look with trellised mirrors, Victorian style framed prints on the walls and moody lighting that creates a shadowy candlelight feel to it.
The three levels of space are broken into different styles, with a street level Barcelona chic bar as you enter, the main dining room on the first floor leads you into a hidden garden in darker shades on interior accents and the grill floor on top, which is where the real heart of The Optimist lies: the kitchen.
As you climb the stairs to each floor, you will notice clues and anecdotes that go a little way to explaining the mystery, but in the end, this mystery has helped to encapsulate a wonderful atmosphere that provides a backdrop that fosters a formal yet intimate atmosphere.
A key statement on the menu – “We grill things” sets the scene for what to expect, so think a Barcelona chic Bar and Asador-inspired (meaning barbecue, grill or spit) restaurant where you can select fresh seafood, meat and vegetables to be grilled thanks to the open char grill on the third floor that creates a superb flavor for everything meat that comes into contact with it.
The idea is to spot something you like from the market-like displays of seafood and selections of prime cuts by the kitchen and ask the grill master, fishmonger or the butcher to throw it on the grill for you.
To set the scene, they delivered some sliced crusty bread with some dipping bowls filled with garlic mayonnaise and we couldn’t get enough of this. We decided a tasting menu would be the best way to get a feel for what the chef can do, so a trio of classic dishes was our first foray into northern Spanish food in the guise of Mushroom and Ham Croquettes, Burrata and Raf Tomato, and Broken Eggs “Huevos Rotos”.
You may think these croquettes are simple, but honestly they can be a disaster in the wrong hands, but tonight it was an absolute hit, with a perfectly crispy deep-fried texture with not a skerrick of oil to be found on the outer casing. The fillings were distinctive in their own way, so beautifully creamy fillings that packed loads of flavor. What a great start to the evening.
The Burrata uses stracciatella cheese, Spanish tomato and olive oil and simplicity wins with the ingredients oozing ripe and piquant flavours.
The broken eggs involve breaking the yolks and use the spoon to coat the potatoes with the runny yolks that thicken the gorgeousness of the potatoes.
Equally satisfying were the Clams “Almejas en salsa verde” with garlic, parsley and white wine and the Grilled Octopus with potato, garlic and ajada sauce.
The clams were tasty but rather briny, not that outstanding, whereas the grilled octopus had an excellently grilled flavor and texture, with some great potatoes (again!) on the side an you just can get enough of that.
The highlight of the evening was the Chateaubriand – a Spanish beef fillet with a beef sauce served with potato gratin and salad. This was a superb cut of meat that was expertly cooked to medium rare, packed with flavor. We were in carnivore’s heaven and it was a very generous portion that serves two people, it is definitely cater for real meat eater.
The chimi churi sauce was a good match too, depending on your preference and once again, the potatoes were superb and could have been a star dish in their own right. It seemed there was no better way to cook and enjoy such a stunning piece of beef.
The Seafood Rice “Arrozcaldoso” was another dish that we felt a-must-not-miss signature dish with the Spanish bomba rice cooked with mussels, clams, squid as well as the red and blue prawns will certainly put smiles on your face. Tomato was added to the sauce along with the juice from the heads of the prawns, so a rich broth that aided this dish in delivering all the flavours of the sea in such a tasty format, while ensuring that there was enough sauce to keep the rice very moist. Surprisingly this was served in a pot instead of a pan, which maybe helped to keep the ingredients so moist, with the mussels on the bottom. Simply delicious.
The consistency of every dish tasted so far kept our spirits up and as it turned out, desserts were not going to ‘let the team down’ with two chosen from the Chef’s Selection – Alfredo’s Warm Apple Pie and a Caramelised Warm Bread Brioche “Torrija”. The apple pie came with the wafer thin apple slices, with a hint of a burnt edge and was utterly delicious.
The brioche had delicate caramelized flavours and the home-made vanilla ice cream with a grainy texture was the right accompaniment, as it was not too sweet and provided the perfect foil to the caramel flavours. The plates were so clean it looked like we hadn’t eaten in a long time, but the truth is that the delicious portions were not too big and overall both were quite light in texture.
The optimist is a real find and given our exciting evening of great food and wine, it is not doubt it had made make a big impression on the Hong Kong dining scene since its opening. You would not want to miss unique gastronomy especially from the Northern Spain and just to discover who “The Optimist” is yourself, right?
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Seafood Rice “Arrozcaldoso”
G/F, 239 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2433 3324
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.