After failing to secure a table at Ted’s Lookout, we decided to head over to Plaza Mayor around the corner for some tapas instead. I haven’t been to the Star Street area in a while, and it’s amazing how many new places have opened up in the last year. Named after a stunning central plaza in Madrid, it was a grand name to live up to. Sadly, it didn’t quite do so.
I’m in a taxi and the driver is careening onto Connaught Road like a mad man. My IPhone clock strikes 8pm – and my heart sinks. I’ve missed it, I know I’ve missed it. Still, the driver continues, clear in his purpose and adamant to fulfill it. We hit a light, we hit another light – my eyes dart between the clock and the road. “Time to do those sprints!!!”, my friend SN texts me, “I’ll hold it as long as I can!”.
We screech to a halt in front of Pier 3, I throw a $50 note at this amazing man who has managed to get me here on time, and tell him to keep the change. My brown 4-inch heeled boots strike the pavement HARD – people must have heard me coming from a mile away. CLOP CLOP CLOP CLOP, I doot my Octopus Card, fly past the barrier, SN is at the ready throw the ferry steward in the water in case I don’t make it. But I’ve made it! I stop with a panting finish onboard the ferry – we are on out way to Discovery Bay!
Our destination: a girls dinner at Solera, a new Spanish Tapas restaurant located in DB Plaza. At first sight, it is obvious that they have tried everything to make this place as Spanish as possible, to the point where they go overboard just a tad. However, the result is that after a while, you could actually start feeling like you’ve been transported to a restaurant in Spain, and the feeling grew on us.
Once we started eating the food, the illusion became complete.
We started off with an Iberico cold cut selection, served with a very flavorful tomato bread. Whilst it was a lovely platter, it doesn’t really serve to show the “edge” that this restaurant has with the rest of its food.
Solera tries to offer a slightly different interpretation of traditional tapas dishes, and they hit the spot with this one – their version of Heuvos Estrellados, a simple dish of fried potatoes, fried egg and Iberico Ham. The saltiness of the cube-cut-then-fried Iberico ham is juxtaposed by the sweet onion confit, and using fried potato crisps instead of larger pieces adds a wonderful crunch. The egg coats the whole dish with rich creaminess, and it is so deliciously moreish.
If there was any restaurant that would encourage me to become vegetarian, it’s this one. Tucked away at the end of a small lane, among the maze of one way streets in Sai Ying Pun, is this unassuming gem that is Grassroots Pantry. Inside and out, it is decorated to look like a beautiful summertime garden – plants and pretty flowers are thoughtfully placed around the interior and on the tables, birds adorn the wallpaper, and everything is pretty, fresh, light and bright.
It’s run by Chef Peggy Chan, who is encouraging the slow food movement by offering healthy dishes jam-packed full of good things and made with seasonal and (whenever possible) local organic produce. For anyone who thought that to be vegetarian is to be limited and bored with food (like me), then you should come here and stand corrected.
Everything about this boutique cafe concept is as ‘green’ and socially responsible as can possibly be, from the individual (The menu changes according to seasonal produce so that everything that goes in your stomach is as fresh as possible) to the community (they hold workshops and cooking classes to educate the people), and even beyond (they are in partnership with Table for Two , and charity that provides meals to children in need).
And now to the food… Continue reading