Joe's Billiards & Bar
2/F King's Hotel, 303 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai
Tel: 3188 1470
The Vibe: the website bills the bar as the 'world's most beautiful pool hall'. Well ... walk in and the first thing that greets you is the cigarette smoke. Through the haze, valiantly fought by an army of air conditioners that render conditions arctic, you'll see a surprisingly bright room of eight pool tables lit by TGI Friday's-style art deco lamps and surrounded by walls of black-and-white photos of celebrities shooting pool. Apart from the staff, our party included the only women there on a Friday night. A bunch of young locals in the corner progressed from drinks and chatting to (free) dice games later on in the evening. But to be fair there's nothing like a little competition to spice up your post-work drink and it was nearly two hours before we left.
The drinks: the wine list was a house red and a house white sold only by the bottle (HK$320). The beer set of six bottles of Carlsberg or Blue Girl (HK$168) was possibly what we should have gone for. But the cocktail list looked reasonable with most costing HK$53. Service was friendly enough and the cocktails arrived one by one while we focused on a game of killer. The Sea Breeze was the best of the lot - fresh and the perfect strength. The Bloody Mary was the next 'best', but although there was some spice in the tinned tomato juice, the alcohol was barely detectable. The margarita was a wince-inducing alcoholic syrup that clashed horribly with the salt rim, and Look for Star (HK$75) was a tequila and Sprite combo more suited to the last drink of the night.
The verdict: it's a fun way to spend a few hours and by the time we left there were plenty of people waiting for tables. And who says a pool dive, sorry 'hall', has to be beautiful anyway? Just don't dally too much between games (it costs HK$2.13 per minute), and stick to drinking beers to be safe.