Meats opened on Staunton Street in late October and, as expected, it’s not been easy to get a table at this no-reservation joint. Aside from this mild inconvenience – why, oh why has Hong Kong decided that bookings are the devil? – we have now made it over and taste-tested a hefty portion of the menu.
No surprises, the clue is in the name at Meats. This isn’t a place to bring your vegetarian friends. This resto exudes the same industrial-cool vibe that’s become Pirata Group’s bread and butter. Lighting is low, while shabby-chic decor and a mixture of street, table and bar seating make this an easy, come-as-you-are joint that’s on just the right side of an eye roll. We like it.
Now, to the food. The menu at Meats requires only a single side of A4 – lovely, compact and suggestive that these folks know what they do well and are looking to stick with it. From the small plates, we tried a selection of dishes, including the chicken liver paté, bone marrow and beef tartare. Each of these came with a twist on the classic recipe, for the (seemingly whipped, almost mousse-like) chicken liver paté it was the addition of PX vinegar and cocoa nibs, while the bone marrow came with anchovy butter and tarragon breadcrumbs.
The paté was an interestingly light start that we liked more than we thought we would, while the bone marrow didn’t really stick in the mind (if you know what I mean) – the hefty amount of green atop the wobbling marrow looked ace but didn’t really add anything to the overall taste. The tartare was our star small: supremely fresh, generously diced so it didn’t simply disintegrate, loaded with mustard seeds and even more glorious with the addition of a smoky hot sauce that was rattling about on the table. We’d have happily eaten another.
For the meaty mains, we say only one thing, make sure you order the beef cheek. We tried to spear it across the table, but it collapsed into a quivering heap of sticky, pulled-apart flesh. It was everything beef cheek should be, smothered in a rich, smoky marinade that complemented rather than over-powered the taste of the meat, piping hot and the colour of molten chocolate. The Iberian porchetta was perfectly tender with a green herb salsa acting as a brilliant partner to bring a fresh kick to each mouthful. The hanger steak was – a hanger steak, the Iberian presa was just fine – although the crunchy crackling does deserve a shout out.
Sides-wise, ugly potatoes were a less crispy but totally moreish version of Sunday roast tatties that we’d happily order on their own with a glass of red. Fine, we’ll have the spiced fried rice, too. Topped with a fried egg and splashed with zinging sriracha mayo, it was supreme. And only $65. Yes, OK, we’ve been Hong Kong-ed and realise that’s hardly cheap for a bowl of rice, but this is a proper portion you could have as a mini dinner in itself, and we’ve all paid more than that for some soggy chips, so perhaps we ought to just be grateful.
All in all, we like the atmosphere, respect the cooking and appreciated the kind smiles of the servers, even if they did take a little too long delivering drinks (we’re a thirsty lot). Skip desserts, focus on the meat and you’ll be set.