By : MELISSA RICHTER
26 April 2019
After a wait of nearly 2 ½ years, Hemingway’s is back, and dare I say it is even better than ever. A favorite haunt for expats and locals, it was a like a dagger to the heart when the original 2-story historic teak house was unceremoniously torn down in 2016. Now the wait is over and as promised they have rebuilt, and done it in the most spectacular way.
Rebranded as Hemingway's Garden Bar & Bistro, its new location on Soi 11 seems like a stroke of genius as the area is undergoing a revitalization as it morphs from being a hedonistic party hub, into something a bit more sophisticated and mature. The new location is a not so much a replica of the original, as it is a reinterpretation. It’s much more spacious, but still retains its iconic charm with the balconies, and outside garden. When visiting you will feel a real sense of nostalgia as much of the original furniture, fixtures, and decorations were repurposed, including much of the teak wood and floor tiles. This extends even to the staff with loyal employees from both the management team and the wait and kitchen staff returning. “We have just been overwhelmed with the positive support we have gotten”, shared General Manager Damian Mackay, “Many of the customers who have come back were loyal to us before. It took some time to time to get things right, but we are more excited about the future than ever. We want people to feel like this is their backyard, their home away from home”.
Always popular for their drink specials, they have upped their game by offering an “All Day Happy Hour” from 11AM to 8PM with deep discounts on beers, cider, standard spirits, and house wine. They have a good selection of award-winning reds, whites, roses, and bubbles on offer as well as a “Create Your Own Martini” option with a choice of 12 premium gins and vodkas. Look for both classic and signature cocktails and we recommend starting off with either the “Key Lime Martini” made with Vanilla Vodka, Coconut Cream, Pineapple Juice, Cream & Graham Cracker Crumbs on the rim or the “Death in the Afternoon” made from Absinth and Champagne. Also, ask about their “Social Media Discounts” for tagging and posting photos when you visit.
The new menu is eclectic, with American, Latin, and Mediterranean comfort food being represented and you will find Hot & Cold Small Share Plates, Sandwiches, Salads, Soups, Meat & Cheese Boards, Pizza, Pasta, Risotto & Paella along with Mains and Desserts. We started off with the Peruvian Seafood Ceviche w/ Lime Marinated Sea Scallops, Fresh Fish, Shrimp, Chili, Coconut, Coriander, Cumin & Pop Corn. At first glance, the popcorn seems superfluous on the plate, but it is deceivingly well calculated as it adeptly counterbalances the acidity of the ceviche and delivers a fun and clever dish that you can easily share. Next, we ordered the Garlic Prawns Spanish Style w/ Butter, Chili & Toasted Baguette along with the house white Sauvignon Blanc “Cellar Selection" Santa Carolina from Chile. While both the wine and prawns were tasty and delicious, I did think the portion was a bit small on the shrimp. However, the opposite was true of the salads which are quite large, super fresh and lightly dressed so you can enjoy the crispiness of the greens. The Pumpkin, Spinach & Feta Salad w/ Pine Nuts, Honey, Dried Cranberries & Balsamic Dressing was especially pleasant as it was not too sweet, and the Mediterranean Salad w/ Olives, cucumber, Onion, Tomatoes, Sweet Pepper, Feta & Lemon-Oregano Dressing was a brilliant version. Next up was the Cuban Seafood Paella w/ White Wine, Sa?ron, Lobster, Shrimp, Squid, Mussel, Chorizo, Sofrito & Peas. Perhaps one of my favorite dishes of the night, it is best enjoyed with a spicy red wine such as the Cabernet Sauvignon “Oak Aged" Grayson Cellars from Napa Valley, California. The seafood in this dish was succulent and juicy, while the sauce had a tantalizingly complex depth of flavor. For the main course try either the Seared Barramundi Coconut Risotto, Mango-Shrimp Mojo which is super fresh and served with lots of fresh greens, or the Crispy Skinned Pork Belly w/ Creamy Mash, Apple Chutney & Cider Jus which is heavenly. For dessert, we opted for the decadent Sticky Apple-ginger Pie Ginger Caramel & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream which is not overly sweet and the perfect way to end the meal.
While Hemingway’s has always been a popular “watering hole”, suffice it to say they have evolved and turned into a proper restaurant and bar, with fresh and vibrant cuisine that will appeal to most everyone. They have managed to honor their history with have a keen eye set on the future while exceeding expectations in every conceivable way.