Nightingale Restaurant & Bar
33 Ship Street, Wan Chai
Tel: 2804 1728
Open: Monday-Saturday noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight
Price: about HK$275 without drinks and service charge.
Ambience: the bird 'theme' is quite random, with a few pictures hanging on one wall (plus one of a squirrel), and a small black birdcage. Decor is basic, and the long ground-floor room is dominated by a large open bar area.
Pros: we were given a warm welcome on a chilly weeknight visit. I asked for - and received - the table farthest from the front door, and when the waiter saw me rubbing my palms, he immediately brought me a glass of hot water, which he kept topped up throughout the meal. The opposite-of-pushy waiter didn't even ask us if we wanted any wine.
Cons: several of the five churros served in our dessert (HK$56) were undercooked inside, and there was too much cinnamon in the cinnamon-sugar coating. The chocolate dipping sauce was too sweet. The roasted potatoes with my main course were undercooked and hard; mashed potatoes would have been better for soaking up the sauce.
Recommended dishes: I loved my starter of smoked eel salad (HK$76). Five thick slices of eel were laid over a too-generous serving of mixed greens, which had a really delicious, slightly sweet dressing. The mushroom soup (HK$56) could have benefited from a little dried mushroom to boost the flavour, but it was rich, hot and soothing. Pancetta and green pea risotto (HK$118) was well-seasoned, and my guest finished the whole portion. Red wine-braised ox tongue (HK$176) needed a little more salt and pepper, but the meat was deliciously tender, and had absorbed the flavour of the sauce.
What else? There's also an upper floor area, which seats up to 16.