Date of review: December 5, 2012 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
To access Wild Grass, you must ascend a steep staircase embedded with colourful tiles – a little hint as to the quirky aesthetic you will find once you reach its first-floor location. As its name may suggest, the look of the restaurant is modelled on the rusticity of the great outdoors – it’s farmyard chic, mixed with a bit of aspirational middle class home décor. There are large communal tables for chinwagging groups, smaller tables for couples, and everything in between. There’s plenty of natural light, which highlight the furniture beautifully – a ragtag assortment of tables and chairs fashioned out of reclaimed and recycled wood, in line with the restaurant’s eco-conscious outlook. White brick walls and hanging plants complete the breezy feel, while a resident artist regularly updates the painted walls by the bathrooms.
Wild Grass should be commended for their dedication to sustainable restaurant practices, with its menu emphasising nose-to-tail eating, organic and free-range produce, and seasonality. There’s not too much to scare off novices, though admittedly we wish there was more to surprise us offal-loving Hong Kongers – the most extreme the menu gets so far is with pan-fried kidneys served with bacon, malt vinegar, celeriac and onion. That isn’t to say the classics are poorly rendered though, as we enjoyed our creamy homemade liver parfait served with crusty country bread and tart piccalilli – the freshly-baked bread set down at the table along with softly-whipped goats’ cheese was also an excellent start and a reminder of the simple, good things. Slow-cooked dishes such as five-hour stewed beef shin, stewed ox tongue and slow-grilled rump are excellent ideas for the cooling weather, and the meat is exclusively Australian OBE beef – that is, wild and organic grass-fed cattle. The rump boasts excellent smoky grilled flavour, but curiously there’s not much taste from the beef itself despite its proud provenance; it’s also a bit on the thin side, which takes away some of the satisfaction that comes with biting into a nicely-cooked steak (which is perfectly medium-rare, as requested). Roast suckling pig, however, has excellent crackling and toothsome parsnips and not-too-sweet apples as a pairing; the portion is small, but then it is a rich plateful. Desserts are comforting in nature, too – we much preferred the rhubarb oat crumble with “dairy frozen cream” to the sable biscuits with fresh raspberries, fromage blanc and pistachio cream, the rhubarb pleasantly tart and the temperature contrast welcome. All in all, the food here feels pretty safe, but then most comfort foods are.
Wild Grass have worked with a brewery to create their own organic beer, which is light and hoppy – an ideal match with the hearty cuisine. The predominantly French wine list offers an accessible range of reds, whites, champagnes and aperitifs, though we wished there was more choice by the glass.
The staff at Wild Grass are still a little bit green (pun intended) – menus were brought out too slowly, and they didn’t know a great deal about the wine – but we like their enthusiasm and friendly demeanour, well-suited for a venue such as this.
The dinner set menu is extremely good value, at HK$390 per person for three courses. Wine is not too prohibitively priced either, and you can enjoy a satisfactory meal for under HK$1,100 for two.