One of Hong Kong’s most critically revered coffee roasters launched a discursive all-day dining concept: Doubleshot brings together specialty brews, dynamic cocktails, and now, a full service dinner menu under a single roof.
Earlier this March (as Hongkongers grappled with one of the city’s worst waves of CoViD-19 infections) Cupping Room quietly debuted its latest concept in Central — simply dubbed Doubleshot. Among coffee enthusiasts, the group has a well-trod reputation for making consistently solid bean-based beverages; backed by a handful of breakfast/lunchtime items which play a satisfying supporting role. Cupping Room’s goal was to “expand [their] pinpoint focus to a diverse offering of specialty beverages” in conjunction with an “exciting and flexible” culinary programme (offering an array of food menus which would be good at different times of day).
As part of this all-encompassing concept, the Doubleshot team recently unveiled its inaugural dinner menu: something which I was on-hand to review, along with a selection of house cocktails designed by consultant Chanel Adams (formerly of PDT and Happy Paradise). Given such circumstances, coffee won’t be a topic of prolonged discussion; though certain comparisons to the wider Cupping Room philosophy (as it pertains to sourcing, roasting and brewing) are all but inevitable.
Unsurprisingly, one of Doubleshot’s big draws is its location. Smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood Road, the venue is surrounded on all sides by some of SoHo’s most popular eating and drinking destinations (Cornerstone can be found just downstairs, whereas Quinary is clearly visible across the road). Up a narrow staircase you’ll find the main dining area: a U-shaped space divided between counter seating, a handful of tables and three concave banquettes (the latter offering glimpses into Doubleshot’s larger-than-average, partially windowed kitchen). Details such as an oblong lighting rig above the bar bely a certain futuristic mood, but overwhelmingly — as with most restaurants and cafés in Central — the feeling I got was that of being the middle fish in a sardine can.
A word of caution: at peak, noise levels can occasionally border on disruptive and the majority of the space is only really set up to handle walk-in parties of up to three. Still, depending on preference, this raucous atmosphere might well be what you’re looking for — a mirror to the same kind of ‘TGIF’ energy you’ll find down the road at Draftland.
Food and Drink
Despite earlier insistence that this review wouldn’t devolve into a rant about coffee, I do wish to emphasise that the cocktails Adams has crafted — with input from Cupping Room GM Michael Yung — reflect a certain synergy. Signature items begin with a classic mixological premise (i.e. an espresso martini), and are made more expressive by way of techniques lifted from barista culture. The Spent Martini (HK$118) is the most visceral representation: blending together freshly pulled single origin espresso, house coffee liqueur (made using spent grounds) and an orgeat that repurposes house-baked croissants into almond syrup. When it comes to espresso martinis, I’ve always maintained that the fewer actual ingredients there are, the freshness of the coffee becomes a decisive consideration — an inkling that’s eloquently affirmed by Adams’s recipe. Instead of the burnt, flavourless, visually unappealing mess I’ve had in so many bars, this martini wows with its multitude of coffee bean flavours. A few sips in, new textures begin to reveal themselves: beginning with an ethereal, almond-sweet foam that gradually lengthens to a punchy, cacao-roasty finish.
Similarly, the Aeropress Negroni (HK$128) embodies the technical overlap between coffee and cocktail-making, created — as the name itself declares — using a pressurised extraction method. Colombo gin, sweet Mulussano vermouth and Averna (a kind of citric, caramel coloured Italian bitter) are passed through an Aeropress that’s preloaded with coffee aromatics. In the glass, the result is a pleasurable riot of sensory clashes, smelling of aniseed and cold brew, yet exhibiting a flavour which ratchets up the intensity of the traditional Negroni. Being both savoury and resinous, it makes for a fantastic double bill alongside the comparatively mild Spent Martini.
In addition to Adams’s cocktail menu — in this writer’s opinion, the indefatigable star of the show — Doubleshot maintains a compact wine list. There are 40 references, give or take, focused on the same sort of low-intervention terroir-expressive mindset demonstrated in Cupping Room’s coffee production. Yung and Adams worked to make this side of the beverage program as approachable as possible; emphasising value for money and immediate drinkability. A handful of whiskies (from the Artist Collective) are also poured by the dram.
In stark contrast to its beverages, Doubleshot’s new dinner menu gives diners a satisfying yet overall nebulous experience. Dishes freewheel between Southern European inspiration, though there’s an avowed focus on regional Spanish cooking. A starter of skewered octopus and chorizo (HK$98) clearly nods to the Galician tapa of the same name — but ditches rustic potato chunks in favour of a deliciously scoopable purée. Similarly, the Potatoes ‘Bravas’ (HK$88) provide an elevated perspective on the ever-reliable chip: taking batons of potato, scoring them until they achieve a crispness approximate to millefeuille and then serving alongside a piquant Canary Islands-inspired sauce of red peppers. Ultimately, this is food which you don’t have to think too hard about: bite-sized morsels made to satisfy hunger and line the stomach, in preparation for an evening spent sipping cocktails.
Should you crave something more substantial — admittedly, also offering better value — there are about half a dozen mains on Doubleshot’s dinner menu. For my purposes, the Wagyu Bavette (HK$298) was a highlight: embodying the essence of a classic, bistro-style steak, complemented with some equally flavourful, no-nonsense sides. Doubleshot sources its Wagyu from Rangers Valley, an Australian beef producer located in the pristine New England Tablelands. These guys specialise in grain-fed cattle which are reared for a minimum of 350 days: a timeline that allows for the gradual and organic development of marbling. With every slice of bavette, I was keenly aware of how evenly distributed the fat was; while the accompanying mushroom compote boosted the steak’s beefy, succulent flavour.
At a push, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Doubleshot. Despite cramped confines, smallish appetiser portions, and the occasional lapse in service (the unfortunate side effect of managing a concept that has to be so many different things for so many people) the venue’s underlying fundamentals are solid. To date, the beverage programme represents one of the most successful syntheses between coffee and mixology in Hong Kong — unsurprising, given the clear breadth of talent and effort that has been marshalled into its development. As it stands, the food still strikes me as a work-in-progress: but clearly, there’s plenty of potential.
Opening Hours: Monday–Sunday, 11am-10pm
Recommended items: Mille-feuille potatoes ‘Bravas’ (HK$88); Wagyu Bavette (HK$298); Spent Martini (HK$118).
Price: Approximately HK$360 (per head) for food and drinks.
Noise Level: Substantial. We hope you like ‘Top 40’ as ambient music.
Service: Warm and engaging, if occasionally disorganised.