Next in our weekend of new openings we try “22 Ships” the latest in a long line of tapas bars to hit HK, or so I thought until the chef corrected me, as it is really a modern restaurant, with Spanish influences and small sharing plates: easier to say Tapas. It is Jason Atherton’s first HK venture, Jason found fame (and Michelin stars) running Maze in London for Gordon Ramsay, he then left to set up Pollen Street Social, which was one of London’s hottest openings last year. He seems to be on a bit of a roll in Asia at the moment with places in Singapore and Shanghai. I liked his food at Maze but had a mixed meal at Pollen Street.
22 Ships is a no reservation, 35 seater, in the J-Senses complex and has a good bar/window that opens to the street. We arrive and put our name down at about 7:00 and decide to order some wine and drink outside whilst we wait. After two hours it is clear they have a problem turning the tables, with most punters firmly rooted to their seats relaxing into a long evening drinking. Given the size of the places and its location they need to get on top of that, maybe a 90-minute table limit like Brick House would work. We order a couple of snacks to keep us going but are discouraged from ordering any more as they don’t have an “outside” license yet, and to be honest much of the menu isn’t finger food so wouldn’t work.
The food we have is good: great little Iberico pork and foie-gras burgers that are addictive; some very fine sweetbread empanadas with foie-gras (although not a great idea to serve them in a bowl); some lovely roast suckling pig; and what is turning into a signature dish, a bowl of Spanish breakfast.
Its early days so unfair to judge, the food is good, a bit more finger food would be nice to slake the appetite whilst waiting would be an improvement. Service is enthusiastic but marred by the inability to turn tables, which makes the wait far too long. They also need to think carefully about the waiting area - the neighbourhood hasn’t many good bars to lurk in as you wait (The Pawn is probably the only option). We will give it another go once it is settled in and hope it gets its act together.
Our final new one is Giando Italian Restaurant and Bar in a separate post.