A new restaurant popped up on Ship Street in Wan Chai this past year.
To be honest, I was surprised when I realized that it was a Spanish restaurant. After all, Ship street already has two very popular and successful tapas places, 22 Ships and sister restaurant Ham & Sherry. Could the street take on another Spanish restaurant?
After visiting, I realized Santé Wine Bar is quite different from those other two tapas restaurants. Santé Wine Bar offers a mix of Spanish and French fare, overseen by British chef David Shuttleworth. The restaurant is focused on sourcing interesting, unusual, and hard-to-find wines. Unlike the crowded and (sometimes) loud environments of the Spanish tapas bars on Ship Street, Santé Wine Bar is more quiet, more spacious, and provides a more relaxed environment.
The menu includes Spanish “snacks” which are available before 8PM (think pinxtos type dishes like boquerones (marinated white anchovies), croquetas, sizzling garlic chili prawns, and more). There is also cheese, charcuterie, starters, and main courses. The smaller menu items lean towards being Spanish, while the appetizers and the main course seem more French in nature.
The hand cut jamon Iberico de Bellota Gran Reserva (aged 36 months) [HKD 280] is a treat and always pairs really nicely with the bottle of red wine that we have ordered (and we have tried several – they are quite good!).
Salads are fresh and enjoyable. The menu changes frequently, so you may not see the same salad on the menu. We tried an avocado frisée salad with watermelon, radicchio, tomato, and toasted pepitas which was quite nice. [HKD 118]
I absolutely love the Pan con Tomate [HKD 38], a Spanish staple that they do quite well at Santé Wine Bar. The bread underneath is very thin yet definitely has a nice crispy bite to it. The top, a mixture of garlic and fresh tomato, is perfectly seasoned and delicious. This is one of my favorite items in the whole restaurant and I order it every single time.
The entrees are more French in nature and are solidly executed. They are simple but well seasoned and full of fresh ingredients. Pictured: grilled sea bass on baby Nicoise salad [HKD188].
I was quite impressed with the grilled salmon, which was barely seared and still medium on the inside. It was beautifully tender with a nice crispy skin. The baby vegetables, tomato, and coriander “salad” complemented the dish really nicely. [HKD188]
Santé Wine Bar Wan Chai – General Thoughts
The first few times we came by, we were always surprised how few people were in the restaurant. Was it because it was new? Or did people prefer lively tapas bars? Upon trying it, I was even more surprised, because I genuinely think the food is quite good here.
More recently, the restaurant seems to have implemented some changes, and the last time I was there, it was actually quite full. I noticed that they have revamped the menu a bit and have also lowered all the prices slightly.
I really do hope this place survives. I like what it offers. I like the concept of a wine bar that tries to source unusual wines for us to enjoy with great food. I love the pan con tomate and the jamon, and the main dishes are solidly executed. One could perhaps argue that the main courses are a little less I do appreciate how I can eat pretty healthy fare if I want.
In short, if you’re on Ship Street next time, consider giving this place a try.
Santé Wine Bar Wan Chai
(entrance on Ship Street)
Shop 4, J Senses
60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
This is the thirty-ninth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.