Australians are really into being Australian. At least that’s what a recent spate of Aussie-proud food ventures would have us believe. At times, this can be problematic – there is something decidedly awkward about a Beijing restaurateur hawking the food of a rich, predominately white nation as if it’s an underdog, an underappreciated cuisine that will save all of us in China from the terrors of local food. This is all to say: I went into Home Grounds, as I do most places, very skeptical.
But Home Grounds does not preach. It is simply Australian in the best of ways: It is chill, healthy and fun. It may be just below new gym/cult BaseFit, but we detect no holier-than-thou adherence to kale and quinoa. There are salads and smoothies here, sure – but there are also Tsingtao-battered fish and chips. And cocktails.
The best dish of all lands squarely between the realms of health and indulgence. Joel’s pancakes (RMB60) are named for Joel Bennetts, the Australian chef Home Grounds brought over from Australia. (One word: Australia!) These hot cakes are mind-bendingly, life-alteringly good, and better yet, the combination of flapjacks and our lack of self control doesn’t leave us in carb-induced malaise.
But enough about the pancakes – there are other dishes here too. (Seriously though, get the pancakes.) The avo smash (RMB50) could have been an everyday avocado toast, if not for the simple, yet ingenious additions of feta and sprouts, rendering it the perfect breakfast.
And speaking of zeitgeisty food items – the Hawaii 5-0 poke bowl (RMB70) comes atop a bed of yummy sushi rice. The fish and chips (RMB70) are delightful, if lacking some crispiness, and accompanied by homemade sauce. If it proves anything, it’s that healthy and hearty can be friends. And that’s a lesson we’re down with.