Saturday, 6 June 2015

Zelo Spanish Restaurant and Tapas - it filled in some time

Normally when I'm heading out to eat, I have an interesting story about the choice of the restaurant or a little bit of background about the chef.  Not this time, we did have interesting plans for the evening, we were going to see Tomorrowland and were then cracking on with a visit to Wagyu Takumi (see post here).  What we need though was a quick and simple lunch before heading to the movies, one that wouldn't ruin out appetite for an expensive dinner.

Since we were at Pacific Place at Admiralty, there were a couple of options that included Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.  Being a fan of Spanish cuisine, in particular tapas, we decided that bite to eat at Zelo would satisfy our need for a quick and light meal before the movie.

The thing that stood out most about Zelo was the beautiful cast iron dome that decorates the casual dining area of the restaurant.  It's an impressive looking feature that dominates the space and is clearly visible from most spots in that end of the shopping centre.  The feature also played acoustic tricks on us, while we were seated at a table right at the edge of the dome, by placing an ear next to the structure, it seems you could clearly hear people talking on the other side....  Cool.

We were having a late lunch, around 3pm, which meant that Zelo was pretty quiet, but also meant that we'd time our run perfectly since the Tapas menu only starts at 3pm daily.  The Zelo menu has been put together by Madrid born Executive Chef Noemi Gutierrez, who'd trained under Ramon Freixa, a two Michelin-starred chef.  With a mix of typical tapas offerings and contemporary Spanish a la carte options, there was a decent selection for us to choose from.

After randomly selecting items off the menu, it was also time for a brew for SC and a freshly squeezed OJ for myself.  Ironically, instead of getting one of the Spanish beers on offer, SC went for a German brew that was on tap, which went down a treat on such a typically hot Hong Kong Saturday afternoon.

Tapas are small, bite sized appetisers made famous in Spain but actually quite common in many parts of the world, although usually with different names.  

Our first selection was the mushrooms in a garlic butter sauce, which looked quite different from what I was expecting.  In stead of the usual small button mushroom (sometimes quartered), the Zelo mushrooms were sliced incredibly thin.  Being so thin, the garlic butter was better able to permeate though the mushrooms, almost soaking into their very core, which was lovely. Unfortunately, being so thin, they went cold very quickly, which wasn't so great.  I found that they probably lacked a little seasoning, which left them a little flat.

Next out was probably more American than Spanish, with a little wagyu beef slider, but I didn't mind as it was delicious.  Simply put together with lettuce, tomato and beef, it was the perfect 'two-bite' burger that just wouldn't quite fit in my mouth for one bite.

While I was munching on my mini burger, the grilled salmon skewers with a sweet chilli sauce was presented.  The salmon was a nicely cooked medium and had a liberal amount of seasoning sprinkled on top, with the black pepper especially prevalent.  I wasn't so sure about the sweet chilli sauce but, after some coaxing from the girl that it was really good, found that the sauce matched the salmon perfectly.

I'd had high hopes for what should have been my favourite bit of tapas, which was no surprise since it was octopus, which I simply love. Cooked in a buttery chorizo oil which was then liberally plied on the plate, with sliced of potato that soaked up the goodness and was the best part of the dish.  The octopus was sliced thinly but was just a little over cooked, so a bit rubbery, but still had good flavour, especially where it had been fried to that point of crispiness.  If the octopus had been a little softer, it would have been superb.

Last of the tapas was another skewer, this time US grade beef.  This one was a bit of a disaster, over cooked and really fatty, I found that there was hardly any of the beef that was edible.  I'd chewed a little bit, but finding the fat not rendered correctly, had to spit it out.  It was a shame, there was a lovely romesco sauce that was quite tasty.

All of the tapas dishes had been for myself, SC on the other hand had ordered something from the a la carte menu, the 'huevos con jamon', organic scrambled eggs with green asparagus and Iberoco ham then finished off with black truffle oil.  The scrambled eggs looked beautifully presented, smelled great and followed through with a wonderful flavour.  I'm personally not a fan of truffled eggs, I find them too sweet, but SC loved the truffle infused eggs which always work well with asparagus and ham.

As far as a quick lunch went, our Zelo meal was not too bad.  It was quite reasonably priced and had some decent options available.  There were a number of issues with many of the tapas dishes that hindered the meal from being terribly memorable, but hey, not every meal can be a michelin starred extravaganza (that would come later in the night).

With service that was pleasant, if a little on the slow side, we met our objective of having a relatively quick meal, with enough time to slowly wander up to see the movie.

In case you're wondering, we enjoyed the movie, but like the meal, it could have been a little better.

German Beer in a Spanish restaurant? 
A perfectly apportioned mini burger - not really Spanish though
It was a pretty cool set up inside, especially the iron dome

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