The Optimist restaurant adds a bright splash of colour to Wan Chai’s Hennessy Road and promises to deliver an authentic northern Spanish experience. You can choose your steak or fish by weight from their blackboards and displays, and the grill master will cook it fresh in front of you on Asador-style traditional grills. If you don’t fancy a full-on grilled dish (but really, why wouldn’t you?), there’s the tasty weekend brunch menu to sample – which is what our junior reporters did.
A stunning place to dine in
I expected The Optimist to be luxurious and grandiose, going by the prices. To my surprise, instead of fancy decor, the restaurant was filled with natural wooden furniture and greenery. Metallic features and vintage detailing added a touch of class, while the soft lighting gave a romantic vibe. I was instantly captivated by the cosy and lively dining environment.
Some of the appetisers have to be prepared first, while other scrumptious choices are already laid out at the semi-buffet. With the temptation to try them all, we couldn’t resist filling our plates with a little bit of everything.
Ensalada de pulpo is Spanish for octopus salad. Grilled octopus and potato slices were served on a hot pan, paired with chickpeas and edamame. This is definitely not what we might normally think of as Spanish seafood. The wide range of textures in the dish were amazing – the octopus was fresh and chewy, and the roasted potato complemented to the octopus. Flavoured with herbs and spices, the combination really made us hunger for more.
Tastes as good as it smells
The delicious smells coming from my charcoal- grilled chicken made me drool – and it didn’t disappoint when I finally got to tuck in. Grilled over a charcoal fire, every bite was aromatic and smoky. The skin was crispy and slightly salty, and the meat was juicy and tender.
Carrots, zucchini and eggplant came with the chicken and helped to balance out and enhance the savoriness of the dish, and add a splash of colour.
A trio of amazing main courses
After our refreshing appetisers, we ordered three main dishes – charcoal-grilled seasoned vegetable skewers, Arroz Caldoso or seafood rice, and charcoal-grilled chicken. Although the food took a little while to arrive, the wait was worth it – each dish tasted better than the one before it.
Each skewer was grilled perfectly, maintaining a hint of smokiness. The vegetables were lightly charred, which meant the juices flowed out, while balancing the textures of each vegetable.
The seafood rice was impressive. The dish arrived in a small pan on top of a wooden cutting board. Decorated with pleasingly arranged seafood, it was warm and savoury. Chopped red peppers were thrown in, adding texture to the gooey rice.
Desserts as far as the eyes can see
The flan we ordered reminded us of an egg tart. It had a satiny smooth texture with a caramel gloss, and it melted in my mouth. A flaky biscuit egg roll was placed on top of the pudding, and a scoop of lemon cream was added to the side.
Natillas is what you get here when you pour vanilla custard sauce over corn flakes. Although it looked like a simple dessert, the combination of silky smooth custard and the crunch of the flakes was very different. The natillas was not as sweet as the flan, and had a more of a delicate texture to it.
Our final dessert was the deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. It was rich and super creamy but surprisingly less sweet than the flan.
There was a layer of cookie crumbles in it, which added a nice crunch to the cheesecake, with strawberry coulis as a side dish.