Cover The Magistracy's lovingly restored dining room (Photo: Gavin Yeung/Tatler Dining)

To celebrate, Black Sheep Restaurants and Tatler have come together to offer an exclusive dish that commemorates their respective anniversaries in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city of constant change. Buildings rise almost as quickly as they are demolished and the rapidly evolving, blink-and-you'll-miss-it cityscape accurately reflects Hong Kong's frenetic energy. Yet, while this is undeniably true, the city does make some effort to hold on to parts of its heritage.

Tai Kwun transformed the site—a mid-19th century integrated law enforcement system with a police station, magistracy and prison—into a modern-day arts and culture centre in 2018. Today, Black Sheep Restaurants has taken on The Central Magistracy, one of the oldest surviving law court buildings in Hong Kong, to create a multi-storey venue with restaurants, bars and private dining rooms along with a sports room and old-world wine cellar.

Opening in three phases, The Magistracy is debuting with two new venues: Magistracy Dining Room and Botanical Garden which opens its doors and accepts reservations for its soft opening from September 16.

Inside The Magistracy's Dining Room

Helmed by executive chef Matthew Kirkley—whom you'll recognise from the restaurant group's Michelin-starred French restaurant Belon—Magistracy Dining Room is inspired by London's oldest traditional restaurants and offers classic British cuisine in a grand, slightly Edwardian, but contemporary interior that manages to weave heritage into its stylish setting.

Designed by Joyce Wang Studios, the dining room draws inspiration from bastions of Britishness, including Scott’s, Wiltons and J Sheekey in London. The restaurant's stately interiors bear the classic hallmarks of old-world glamour with high vaulted ceilings and lustrous wooden panelled walls while curved banquettes in rich reds alongside oversized armchairs provide comfort.

A spiral staircase leads guests to an intimate balcony for dining that overlooks the space, providing an elegant backdrop for the most momentous meals or, as the surroundings seem to encourage, the odd literary debate and philosophical discussions. The main dining room is also connected to Botanical Garden, an outdoor terrace with white parasols and green foliage that is an ideal space for guests to recline and enjoy gin and tonics.

The food menu is filled with English classics served by well-dressed captains and wheeled to the table on a trolley. Naturally, fresh oysters and caviar are available to whet the appetite, followed by a selection of shellfish and raw seafood as well as starters including an indulgent pastry-topped French onion soup and fluffy double-baked Lincolnshire Poacher souffle.

There are four main dish options that showcase Dover sole, lobster, turbot and prime rib on the menu. Guests can select one of two ways to enjoy the seafood or opt for the aged and slow-roasted beef which is crusted in mustard and crispy onions, carved tableside, and comes with Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream and jus. These dishes are best enjoyed with extra side orders including the insanely crispy Quality Chop House confit potatoes.

The Anniversary Dish

“We are excited to once again work in partnership with Tatler to mark both our anniversaries, a decade for us and a notable 45th for them,” comments Kirkley, “To honour the occasion, and to celebrate the opening of The Magistracy Dining Room, we have introduced a special off-menu dish: hot king crab with drawn butter.”

The Tatler x Black Sheep Restaurants Anniversary Dish, featuring a cluster of king crab cracked and prepared at the table, comes with melted Beillevaire butter and is available exclusively at Magistracy Dining Room from September 16 for one month only. 

The off-menu item requires a 48-hour pre-order request and reservations can be made here.

He adds, “I find that the king crab’s imposing nature nicely mirrors the grand space of our dining room. It also showcases our underlying culinary philosophy: using the best possible product, preparing it with great attention yet simply, and serving it beautifully tableside.”

The Magistracy, 2 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2252 3188

A Little History

Declared a monument in 1997, the former Central Magistracy was reconstructed in 1914, housing two courtrooms and a holding cell in the basement. Prior to that, a smaller magistracy was presumably erected at the same location in 1847 but was later demolished to make way for the present building. The Central Magistracy eventually closed down in 1979 and was temporarily used as a High Court annex before becoming offices for the Immigration Department and police force. Decommissioned in 1984, the magistracy ceased its judiciary functions but remained majestic with its giant order architecture, keystone arches and fluted columns that are symbols of the court’s power.

“We feel a responsibility on our shoulders to do something here that will connect Hong Kong's past and present with its future,” says Black Sheep Restaurants founder Syed Asim Hussain.

“We have been working tirelessly behind the curtains and it feels serendipitous that as the city returns to life, we are unveiling The Magistracy. This place doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the city itself, but it is our job to bring it back from the forgotten for people to enjoy and continue its story into the future of the city.”


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