Bar review: Charcoal, Lan Kwai Fong – room for improvement
Charcoal is a good looking bar, but suffered serious lapses in bartending and service
The vibe: Charcoal describes itself as “lounge, art gallery, bar” and while there isn’t much art, the decor is certainly artistic – shades of charcoal grey with a discreet gold pattern on the walls. There is a large terrace overlooking Lan Kwai Fong with black-and-white murals of the Hong Kong skyline.
The drinks: we started with two signature cocktails. The DQ Chronic (HK$90, DQ Vodka, fresh lime juice, syrup, mint, grapefruit and orange bitters) was pleasantly citrussy if unexciting. The Negroni (HK$90) was poorly balanced and garnished with lemon instead of orange.
The Earl (HK$160, tea-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, champagne) was refined and complex. There was nothing gorgeous about Gorgeous Grace (HK$160, brandy, Cointreau, champagne, orange slice). The champagne was flat, the brandy overwhelming and the orange slice was missing.
Lackadaisical service didn’t help. We were brought a gin and tonic instead of the DQ
Chronic – an understandable mistake and the drink was replaced, but in a new bar you’d expect the staff to be on the ball. One waiter’s focus seemed to be hanging out with a group of customers for a shisha. (With plenty of space outside, why were so many customers smoking shishas indoors?)
The verdict: Charcoal has potential and scores on visual style, but pulling up of socks is needed on drinks and service to compete in Lan Kwai Fong.
Charcoal, 4/F Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street,
Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2351 5007.
Open: 5pm-3am (Friday and Saturday until 4am)