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Hong Kong bar reviews

Le Boudoir in Central bar review: bland cocktails, poor service and a questionable revamp – but at least the classics are done well

Street artist Szabotage’s overhaul of Le Boudoir misses the mark, which might not be so bad if the service and drinks were up to par – but only the classics stood out

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 7:23pm

The vibe: Le Boudoir recently underwent what was touted as a major revamp by well-known street artist Szabotage, who is originally from Shoreditch in London and is now based in Hong Kong.

Curiously, instead of changing the decor completely, the bar’s trademark baroque-style flock wallpaper, chandeliers and framed pictures are still there – only now they’re covered with splashes of paint, scrawled graffiti and bands of tape.

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This is supposed to be edgy and hip, but it just feels like being in an old-fashioned restaurant that somebody has vandalised.

Reached by descending a flight of red carpeted steps that lead from an unmarked doorway next to the Pastis restaurant on Wyndham Street, Le Boudoir is known as a place to party late at night and on weekends. On this weekday evening, however, the place was dead – and being served by a waiter who clearly had zero interest in his job didn’t help.

A second waiter who took over was more polite yet just as uninterested – if your customers leave their first round of drinks almost untouched, you would expect the staff to at least ask what the problem was.

The drinks: the signature cocktails seem aimed at girls (and boys) who get giggly on the kind of drinks identified with paper umbrellas. The two we tried were sweet and bland, with little or no alcohol.

High Heels (HK$110, vodka, crème de mure, crème de cassis, raspberry, blackberry, lemon, apple juice) tasted exactly like Ribena; Red Express (HK$110, rum, sparkling wine, raspberry, lime, fresh mint, red chilli, honey syrup) lacked both alcohol and any spice from the chilli.

The drinks list has a good choice of premium liquor and a couple of classics were a big improvement. They were stronger and served correctly with a single large ice cube – although the sound of breaking glass behind the bar while they were being made was somewhat worrying. The Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark whiskey (HK$120) was well made, although the Deluxe Negroni (HK$130) tasted too thin.

The verdict: while Le Boudoir may keep its regulars happy, neither the drinks nor the service are likely to attract a wider clientele in a city where so many bars have great mixology and go out of their way to make patrons of all kinds feel welcome.

Le Boudoir, Basement, 65 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2530 3870. Open 6pm-3am

While you’re in the area:

Bar review: The Old Man, Central – raise a glass to Hemingway, the thinking man’s drinker

Bar review: Ying Jee Club Bar in Central – a true luxury experience

Bar review: Coa in Central – great selection of tequila and mezcal in a Mexican-style cantina