FIRST IMPRESSIONS There is no lack of eateries in a food haven like Hongkong, from dai pai dongs (open-air food stalls) to Michelin starred, from intimate members-only establishments to the achingly hip. In August this year, SML became a new entrant to the city’s burgeoning dining scene.
The pan-European restaurant is sprawled across 650sqm on the 11th floor of Times Square in the Causeway Bay shopping and entertainment district. Don’t be misled by the term “pan-European” which, more often than not, conjures up the connotation of “fine dining”; SML’s concept is casual yet contemporary.
The interior by locally based Alexi Robinson is a mix of timber tones, metallic surfaces and mismatched upholstery. It boasts a bar, an open kitchen, a communal “canteen-style” dining area and a large patio for alfresco dining, a rare feature in space-tight CWB, as well as a curated art space at the entrance.
THE FOOD SML, the acronym for Small Medium Large, refers to the portion sizes of everything that’s listed on the pan-European menu, catering for all, from the undersized to big eaters. Dinner for my company of four was a hearty one, with some of our favourites including the Beef Carpaccio/Rocket/Parmesan/Truffle Oil, Meatballs/Spicy Tomato Sauce, Salmon Tartare and Risotto/Mushrooms/Truffles.
“SML is our attempt to break away from the conventional starter-main-dessert format and introduce a completely new democratic dining experience that is both dynamic and choice-driven,” says Alan Lo, co-founder of Press Room Group, which came up with SML along with such dining concepts as The Pawn bar/lounge/restaurant in Wanchai.
DRINKS The global drinks list offers 38 wine types, 18 of which are available from an automated wine dispenser. Wine is dispensed directly from the bottle using an Italian patented technology that enables it to be opened and protected from oxidation, and the flavour remains intact for over three weeks.
SERVICE The staff was predominantly Chinese-speaking and managed to keep things in order on a busy Wednesday evening we visited.
VERDICT Particularly good for meals taken as a group and also for shoppers to grab a bite, rest and stretch those limbs.
PRICES Small portions are from HK$11 (US$1.42) to HK$65 (US$8), up to HK$215 (US$27) for “L” servings.
CONTACT 11th Floor, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hongkong, tel 852 2577 3444, www.smlrestaurants.com.
Open from 11.30am to 11.30pm Sunday to Thursday; and 11.30am to 12.30am on Friday, Saturday and the eve of public holidays.