All photography courtesy of The Magistracy Hong Kong.

IN A CITY NOT EXACTLY short of a restaurant, prolific Hong Kong hospitality group, Black Sheep continues to raise the bar with its latest launch, The Magistracy. Finally opening its doors just over a year ago, the much-anticipated dining room is no doubt turning heads, thanks to its storied setting and elevated menu of classics, courtesy of chef Matthew Kirkley. 

Occupying the former Central Magistracy building, one of three declared monuments within Tai Kwun (the revitalised Central Police Station Compound that now houses restaurants, shops and galleries) The Magistracy is impressive. Once an annex to Hong Kong’s Supreme Court, where over a million people were sentenced between 1841 and 1941, the stately building, which lay dormant for nearly 40 years, has today been reimagined to include Botanical Garden, a sultry outdoor gin bar and Magistracy Dining Room, an opulent space inspired by timeless London power restaurants like The Savoy Grill, Wiltons and The Ivy. 

With the intention to protect the heritage of the building, Syed Asim Hussain, founder of Black Sheep says: “We do not own this space, it belongs to the city—past, present and future. We are simply custodians looking after it, bringing this piece of history into the now and paving the way for its continuation in the fabric of Hong Kong’s future.”

The Magistracy Hong Kong restaurant
The Aged Prime Rib and Roasted Ora King Salmon with Sorrell are highlights on the dining room menu.

For Hussain, the starting point was to absorb the building’s history and to understand the importance of The Magistracy to Hong Kong’s past. As he says, the gravitas and authenticity of the space is to be honoured, rather than obstructed. And so, against the building’s original details such as the high vaulted ceilings, arched doors and ornate timber panels and flooring, local designer Joyce Wang has layered the interiors with sumptuous textiles such as full length curtains, custom tapestries, handwoven rugs, and a grand watercolour of old Hong Kong. Small accent lamps and flickering candles shed a warm glow onto plush dining alcoves of white linen tablecloths and curved oxblood leather banquettes. 

Meanwhile, a newly added spiral staircase leads to a semi-private dining space that was the former public viewing gallery. All this comes together as a cosy and timeless backdrop for chef Kirkley’s succinct menu of classics that whets the appetite with oysters, caviar, crudo and shellfish. This is followed by starters—from the perfectly dressed Caesar salad topped with white anchovies to rich pastry-topped French onion soup—and a concise series of mains, such as the crisp Dover sole goujons, slow-roasted aged prime rib, and comforting puff pastry chicken pie.

Dessert includes the likes of the dangerously moreish sticky toffee pudding and baked Alaska which is flambéed tableside for a touch of drama.

The Botanical Garden Bar at The Magistracy Hong Kong.

We suggest ending (or starting) your evening in the romantic Botanical Garden, a leafy oasis inspired by British heritage gardens, nestled amid lush ivy, hydrangeas and ferns, alongside French bistro chairs, green marble tables and botanical printed parasols. Here, snacks like the tasty steak sandwich or the Welsh rarebit are served alongside a full menu of gins—from the herbal notes of Cambridge Japanese to the fresh citrusy flavours of Tanqueray No. 10—that  go down a treat as an aperitif or a postprandial tipple.

In short, The Magistracy might have been a long time coming, but as they say, good things come to those who wait.


The brilliance of Burberry’s new colour theory shines in Hong Kong

The best new Australian restaurants for 2023