Bar review: The Pond at Elements mall – Chinese gastropub and restaurant

Rooftop venue lacks atmosphere and the strikingly presented cocktails are hit-and-miss, but the helpful staff make up for the shortcomings

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 5:00pm

The vibe: The Pond Chinese Gastropub & Restaurant is the latest addition to Elements shopping mall’s rooftop Civic Square. There’s outdoor space if the weather is good and you want to admire the illuminated fountain in the heart of the square. Indoors the ground floor is roomy, with a large bar in the middle and plenty of tables and booth seating.

The decor doesn’t generate much atmosphere – dark grey ceilings, nondescript furniture and a brown and grey patterned wall covering that looks a bit like old-fashioned kitchen lino. However, the place is pleasantly quiet if you want to chill out, and the young staff are eager to please.

The drinks: a short list of signature cocktails with “Chinese” ingredients made our hearts sink slightly – so often these just don’t come off. We didn’t have the courage to try Twinkle Tinkle, described as being made with Ding Ding sweet infusion (neither I nor my native Hongkonger companion had the foggiest idea what Ding Ding was in this case, but it turns out it’s a traditional local candy).

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Instead, we ventured on Have a Fresh Start (HK$88, gin, green Chartreuse, candied date rose tea syrup, lemon juice, egg white), which was refreshing if bland – the best thing about it was the presentation in an exquisite translucent porcelain cup.

Also strikingly served (in a miniature version of a Shang dynasty drinking vessel) was Honour Cheers (HK$98, bourbon whisky-infused Chinese xiao mei tea, rosso vermouth, home-made nutmeg syrup, home-made orange peel bitters) was more successful – intensely flavoured, bitter and extremely strong.

Turning to classic cocktails, the bartending team proved they know what they’re doing. The Manhattan (HK$98) was excellent and when we asked for a dry martini made with The Botanist gin and grapefruit peel (a combination only listed on the menu as an option for G&T), the resulting drink (HK$120) was impeccably made.

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One small gripe – given that The Pond is a Maxim’s joint, you’d think the budget would have stretched to having the English menu proofread. Misspellings and bad grammar create a negative impression the place doesn’t deserve.

The verdict: stick to the classics and you won’t go wrong – a handy spot if you’re shopping at Elements or want to pair a cocktail with Maxim’s delicious Peking duck.

The Pond, shop R002-003, roof level, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, tel: 2258 2278

Open: 11.30am-10.30pm (Friday and Saturday until 11.30pm)