Rating: ★★★★☆

Address: Pacific Place Shop 007, LG1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong 金鐘金鐘道88號太古廣場LG1樓007號舖

Telephone: 2918 1028

Thank you Zelo for inviting me to join you for an alcohol- and pinchos-filled happy hour!

我和一班朋友早已寫下一些中環及金鐘的 Happy Hour好去處, 上星期再有新發現。位於太古廣場LG層的 ZeloGaia Group 集團 ( 旗下有Gaia, Isola, Va Bene) 的一間西班牙式 tapas bar 。來自馬德里, 曾經在世界頂級份子料理餐廳 El Bulli任職的廚師 Noemi Gutierrez近幾個月為餐廳準備了一系例 pinchos, 每週四下午6時至8時供應。Pinchos 是在西班牙北部很普遍用來送酒的小吃。可以在酒吧的吧桌上自取或叫侍應送來,每件$23。雖然每件計錢,但份量頗大,吃幾件已經夠飽。再來一兩杯西班牙紅酒或白酒(特價時段$68一杯), 即可在室內體驗彷如置身西班牙的歡樂時光!

Happy Hour is such a brilliant thing. It is a great opportunity to celebrate the end of a work day, and at that hour, we could all do with a bit (or rather, a lot…) of alcohol and some scrumptious snacks. My friends and I have compiled a list of Happy Hour haunts in Central and Admiralty, and I now have a new addition to the list!

Zelo, situated by the escalator in LG1 of Pacific Place (between Metropolitan Café and Peking Garden), is a contemporary Spanish restaurant and tapas bar brought to us by Gaia Group, proprietors of acclaimed Italian restaurants Isola and Gaia. Chef Noemi Gutierrez, who came from Madrid and has once worked in the world’s top molecular gastronomy restaurant El Bulli (now closed), joined Zelo a few months ago and is now going to tantalise Hong Kong’s demanding palates by offering a selection of pinchos every Thursday from 6-8pm, starting from 29 November 2012.

Pinchos, meaning “thorn” or “spike” in Spanish, is basically tapas pierced with a cocktail stick, which are typically eaten in bars in Northern Spain. A selection of pinchos are laid out at the bar area at Zelo, and customers are free to pick the pinchos they like. If you are less physically active (a.k.a. lazy), the friendly staff at Zelo are more than happy to bring the pinchos to your table – but I can assure you that getting them yourself is much more fun!

The Pinchos are charged at HK$23 per piece. This doesn’t sound incredibly cheap, but some of the pinchos are huge and are almost the size of an appetiser at some restaurants, so you shouldn’t need to eat more than a few pieces if you are still planning on having dinner that night!

Just to keep the alcohol flowing, Zelo also offers a selection of drink, including Spanish sparkling wines, red wine and white wine, only at HK$68 per glass. Scrumptious Spanish tapas with wine…hmmmm, it does sound like a plan! 

Red Pepper with Tuna ($23)

Roasted Bell Pepper and Eggplant ($23)

For the benefit of my Happy Hour-loving friends and readers, I had to stuff myself in order to try out as many tapas as possible (disclaimer: I didn’t end up eating the piece of bread at the bottom as I would otherwise be too full to have dinner that night!) 

I started with a few pieces of croquettes, as at times I needed potatoes like I needed air. I tried both the mixed vegetable croquette, and the Serrano ham croquette, and they were light and crispy on the outside and soft and delectably smooth on the inside. However, I always find croquettes more delicious when they are still piping hot, so what you could do is ask the waiters to bring a piece of freshly made croquette to your table when it is ready (you might have to wait for 10-15 minutes though). The Serrano ham with tomato and olive oil was a carnivorous delight, as the ham was pristine and packed with meaty flavours.

I mentioned that some of the pinchos were massive, and these included the cooked ham with fresh potato roll, the spinach tortilla with aioli and the smoked salmon with lettuce, onion, sour cream and dill. The cooked ham with fresh potato was wholesome and filling, with a thick piece of ham wrapped around silky, creamy mashed potatoes; the spinach tortilla was nicely layered, and the potatoes tasted natural and satisfying; the smoked salmon was indulgent and was perfect to go with my drinks, as the salmon paired very well with a generous, alluring layer of sour cream.

Cooked Ham with Fresh Potato Roll ($23)

Spinach Tortilla with Aioli ($23)

Smoked Salmon with Lettuce, Onion, Sour Cream and Dill ($23)

The octopus in the octopus with paprika and olive oil was fresh and chewy, and I also adored the firm, bouncy prawns in my prawns with cocktail sauce.

 

Octopus with Paprika and Olive Oil ($23)

Prawns with Cocktail Sauce ($23)

Last but not least, the grilled cheese with blueberry jam was a winner. The melting cheese was tasty and addictive, and was grilled until crisp and chewy on the surface, without being dry. It was finished off with a dollop of blueberry jam, which added a light, delightful sweetness and was the cherry on the cake.

Besides having my favourite Spanish wines, I also ordered a glass of Fruitful Fancy, a mocktail with pineapple, orange, fresh lime juice, raspberry puree and ginger ale, to wash down the delicious pinchos. The mocktail was fruity and yummy, and the iciness was invigorating., to wash down the delicious pinchos. The mocktail was fruity and yummy, and the iciness was invigorating.

In addition to Happy Hour, this restaurant & tapas bar is open until 10.30pm on Sunday to Thursday, and until 11.00pm on Friday to Saturday, so you could always drop in for a drink and some tapas at night as an alternative to the hotel bars in the area!