California Vintage

This place was recommended by a friend and so we decided to drop by and give it a try for another friend’s birthday. The place was pretty much full when we got there around 6:30pm and so there really wasn’t much choice and we were seated at the very back on the bar table facing the open kitchen. Actually, this was my preferred choice since I love watching chefs cook and in any case, in the end, this was to our benefit as we noticed and got to try the staff special (see below).

Open kitchen and bar table

They offer two types of menus, the normal paper ones, and then the more technological advanced iPad version. All that is missing now is being able to order straight from the iPad, in which case you can then hire less people.

Normal menu
iPad menu

I was a little disappointed with their beer selection with Anchor Steam being the only choice. California is supposed to have quite a few really good micro-breweries and I would certainly love to try them in Hong Kong. The other thing is that I can get Anchor Steam at Inn Side Out and their related restaurants at a cheaper price so I would not order it here. On the other hand, their wine selection is pretty good and the pricing appears to be quite competitive for a restaurant especially if you order by the bottle.

Gilroy Garlic Fries – The fries were not too garlicky and rather than just being cooked outside the fries, I think that the garlic was actually infused into the potatoes. In any case, it tasted great and you are given a choice of whether to use ketchup or truffle aioli as a dip.
California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese – The sliders were excellent. The beef was cooked medium and extremely juicy when you bite into them. The buns were hot toasted and crispy and slowly soaked up the juices from the beef and the caramelized onions. My one gripe is that for two sliders, it was pretty expensive considering the two sliders put together did not make a normal sized burger.
California Tacos with Baja Fish – This is Baja fish batter-fried, served on a soft corn tortilla topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo (aka salsa fresca) and cumin-enriched sour cream. This is not your standard taco as you can hardly use your hands to lift it up. The only way to eat it is to cut using your knife and fork watching as it slowly falls apart before piecing it back together again on your fork. Still, the fish was nicely cooked with its slight batter crunch and matched with the tortilla, cabbage, salsa and sour cream.
California Tacos with Carnitas and Salsa Roja – Essentially shredded pork shoulder served on a corn tortilla with house made salsa and Guaillo chilies. Unfortunately the pork shoulder seemed a bit dry and tough. The chilies added a bit of spice, but I don’t mind if there was more whereas the tortilla and house made salsa was nice. Again, its not really your standard tortilla and definitely required a knife and fork to eat.
The Staff Special (Grilled Pork with Fried Rice [off the menu]) – We had finished our meal and were just sitting around, sipping our second bottle of wine, when the staff took turns coming by the bar table to have their own dinner. The chef cooked up what was essentially grilled pork and fried rice but it smelt amazing. It was our friend’s birthday and after being deflected through a few different channels, the chef did finally cook up the special for us. The pork was tender and juicy with a nice char-grilled flavour. The fried rice was cooked with eggs and chives and a mystery sauce. Very simple, yet very tasty as well.

Gilroy Garlic Fries
California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese
California Tacos with Baja Fish
California Tacos with Carnitas and Salsa Roja
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I enjoyed myself at this restaurant. The food was great, but perhaps a bit expensive for the portion size. The wine on the other hand is a good deal and I would love to try a few others. The next time I eat here, I would continue to sit at the bar table despite not being able to face each other, as the tables in the main area does seem a bit small and cramped. The only thing that stops me from putting this restaurant in the highly recommended category is perhaps the price.

Highly Recommended:

  • California Tacos with Baja Fish
  • California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese
  • The Staff Special – Grilled Pork with Fried Rice (off the menu)

__________
California Vintage
G/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
2525 9808

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