The vibe: close to the University of Hong Kong, Cellar Door should attract students as well as the young professionals who have flocked to Western District in recent times.
The place is spacious, high-ceilinged and well lit, despite being at basement level. The centrepiece is a long bar, there’s a good mix of high and low tables and live music every Friday and Saturday. Staff are young, friendly and charmingly enthusiastic.
The drinks: the focus is firmly on wine, with a small selection of craft beers and ciders, but no spirits. The wines are presented in a novel way – arranged under headings (medium bodied, dry, spicy…) they’re listed by grape instead of name, with country and region in smaller letters. So if you want a Bordeaux, for instance, you need to look under merlot or cabernet sauvignon. This New World approach is intelligently done, although it may suit novices more than aficionados (and is definitely not for wine snobs).
Owned by a local wine importer, the bar aims to make wine affordable in a city where it’s all too often overpriced, and there are plenty of bottles for less than HK$200. We started off with a glass of Marcel Hugg Cremant d’Alsace (HK$50), a refreshing, elegant sparkling wine made from chardonnay, pinot blanc and pinot noir. Moving onto reds, the South African Tormentoso pinotage (HK$40) was medium-bodied, soft and fruity, and the Clos La Coutale malbec from Cahors, France (HK$50) full-bodied and spicy with very smooth tannins.
All the wines were good examples of their regions and varietals in easy-drinking styles, and were a steal at their respective prices, especially as servings are generous (a welcome contrast to many Hong Kong establishments which charge HK$100 or more for a pitiful half glass).
The verdict: fresh and fun, Cellar Door offers outstanding value and a great way to discover wine or just relax and enjoy it – the range of tasty, original tapas is a bonus and a good reminder that wine is meant to be drunk with food.
Cellar Door Wine Tapas Bar, 16 Woo Hop Street, Shek Tong Tsui, Western District. Tel: 2776 6599
Open: Monday to Saturday 5pm-midnight