Northern Spanish grill cuisine & well-executed cocktails at impressive new bar & restaurant in Wanchai
February 12th, 2016
The Optimist launched late 2015 in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong, the creation of the restaurateur partnership behind highly-rated Italian restaurant and bar Pirata (located in the same building as The Optimist). From its street level entrance, the warm and inviting bar and restaurant extends across three levels, deftly evoking both authentic northern Spanish dining, and sociable all-day drinks experiences. While the street-level bar exudes an energetic Barcelona-vibe, the upper floors dining experience is centred on the traditional rustic ‘asador’ grill cuisine of north Spain. Market fresh seafood, meats and vegetables are cooked on the heavy-duty charcoal grills at the top floor open kitchen, while diners can choose seating in either the relaxed contemporary elegance of the second floor Dining Room, or within the casual ambience of the upper-level Grill Room space. At the stylish ground floor bar, signature Spanish-style gin and tonics, retro-inspired cocktails, and other beverages are served all day from the handsome cocktail bar, complemented by a menu of asador-inspired bar bites.
Design Meticulously detailed by creative Spanish designer Rocio Martinez Amoedo, the interior decor is a pleasing amalgam of Spanish influences and contemporary decor elements, with each level having a distinctive feel, yet blending harmoniously within the personality of The Optimist. A warm palette of deep blue, sea-green, turquoise and burnt orange is the backdrop for elegant oak furniture, brown leather banquettes, vintage lithographs, brass lamps and metallic detailing.
Cuisine Head chef Alfredo Rodríguez Sangrador has drawn on extensive experience in some of Madrid’s top restaurants to create a series of menus at The Optimist that embody authentic Spanish culinary traditions, elevated with some Japanese influences. Centred on the northern Spanish grill or asador cuisine, the menu features fresh Mediterranean and Atlantic seafood, aged rib eye beef from Galicia, and 24 month aged Jamón ibérico de bellota. Highlights from the a la carte menu include the seafood towers – Mariscada; grilled whole wild Turbot “Guetaria”; and the Spanish fillet Chateaubriand.
Drinks Exuding a Barcelona-chic aesthetic, the Bar serves a Spanish-centric drinks list headlined by their signature Gin & Tonic serves; reprised nostalgic cocktails and punches; and Spanish wines. Signature cocktails from head bartender Isabella Vannoni that hit the spot include the Martinica – a combination of Martin Millers Gin, Aperol, fresh basil, lemon, vanilla and apple juice; and the French Kiss – made with Eden Love Gin, blackberry marmalade, lychee juice and lemon.
Open daily, The Optimist serves lunch and dinner at the restaurant dining rooms, with the street level bar open all day from 11:30 am. Popular promotions include The Optimistic Hour (daily 3pm – 7pm) with cocktails and tapas priced at under HK$50; and the Sunday Brunch, from HK$180 with free flow wine and prosecco, and free-flow sangria punch at HK$368.