So we may have missed the 4th of July, but we figured we’d make up for it by paying tribute to our cousins from across the pond in the best way we know how – by stuffing ourselves silly with some good ‘ole American food over at Grand Central. (“USA! USA! USA!”)
This casual restaurant sits atop Elements mall and is a handy spot for a quick pit-stop when visiting with kids as:
a) it’s within striking distance of Elements’ many kid-pleasing attractions. The huge rooftop playground will have them burning off excess energy (although will also have them actually burning at this time of year, so take sunscreen). We’re also fans of the ice rink downstairs – stay tuned for a review coming soon;
b) it’s not too fancy. I mean this as a compliment – it’s a relaxing experience rather than a nerve-wracking one;
c) there’s a balloon-twister to entertain the tiny terrors every Sunday while you enjoy your meal in peace.
d) it has a crowd-pleasing menu, with classic mains, salads and brunch skillets, as well as a weekend roast that bears further investigation once the weather cools down a bit.
The kids’ menu here is similar to other Eclipse group venues we’ve visited (McSorley’s in DB being a semi-regular haunt), and so Master T-T ordered his burger and fries without regard for the other menu items, confident in the knowledge that they would arrive encased in a cool cardboard ship that he could then proceed to steer around the table.
The kids burgers are always pretty good and come in generous pairs, meaning that older children won’t go hungry and start scavenging from your plate if they’re ordering from the junior menu. There’s also a nice little colouring sheet and crayons to keep little ones sweet while they wait for their meal to arrive.
The main attraction here for Mr T-T was the limited edition “Burger Independence” menu, offering up a choice of eight burgers paired with a Fat Rooster IPA for $198. Yep, Mr T-T is one of the new breed of HK craft beer enthusiasts – you know, the ones who extoll the many delights of a pint of “Old Lung Tickler”, served warm, accompanied by a plate of meat-based snacks. He’s essentially a beardy hipster without the beard. Or the hip.
Anyway, he chose the chilli burger and was very happy with the results (which was more than I could say for his shirt afterwards). The burger was slightly more well-done than he would have usually ordered but the generous dollop of tomatoey chilli on top kept things moist and full of flavour.
To combat the effects of all that meat, I got full veto on the starters and went for the crispy brie wrappers with cranberry relish, which were full of flavour but unfortunately a little oily for my taste, along with a fresh and delicious watermelon and feta salad that we all thought was VERY NICE, EVEN THOUGH YOU CALLED IT SALAD, MUMMY. I take my victories where I can get ’em.
My main was the Spanish brunch skillet, a huge cast iron pan full of smoky chorizo, Serrano ham, olives, scrambled eggs (you can also have sunny-side up) and tomatoes that I thoroughly enjoyed, but that defeated me about a third of the way through due to its vast proportions. A man, or hangover-sized option, that one.
As it was Sunday, and in the spirit of honouring the USA (or plain old gluttony, whichevs), Master T-T and I split a slice of pecan pie, which managed to be satisfying without being overly sweet, with a buttery pastry base, while Mr T-T went full-fat with a peanut M&Ms milkshake that he declared to be a winner.
Mr Balloon Twister gave us the opportunity to linger over coffee by conjuring up a vast array of latex sculptures for his small but dedicated group of young fans, including a fully operational bow and arrow that sailed right into my latte and was then accidentally popped, causing many tears.
If you’re at Elements and are looking for a quick and easy family lunch with a guaranteed hit rate then Grand Central gets a starred-and-striped thumbs up from us. Altogether now: “USA! USA! USA… !”
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 12pm – 10.30pm; weekends and public holidays, 11am – 10.30pm.
Grand Central Bar & Grill, Shop R001, 3/F and roof, Civic Square, Elements, Kowloon, Hong Kong; 2736 4888
Please note that this meal was by invitation. Thanks to Grand Central for having us!