Seriously, what’s in a name? Well, in the case of this tiny basement bar slapbang on Staunton Street, a hell of a lot. Medusa is certainly an arresting moniker for a late night haunt, and its Caravaggio signage is easily the coolest in all of Hong Kong – but, as with all Greek myths, there’s plenty of symbolism in naming it after a Gorgon. Time Out doesn’t peddle gossip but the owner of Medusa chose the snake-haired woman for a reason (the severed head stares straight out at another drinking establishment across the street. We’ll say no more).
Lest we forget, the Medusa is much more than a malevolent beauty; she’s also a supreme talisman. The owner has some talismanic beauties here too. The bar is linear and narrow, with a speakeasy feel and a striking ‘headless’ theme to its artworks (Perseus, John the Baptist and Samson adorn the walls). It’s also incredibly welcoming, with an older crowd on most evenings. Cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Old Cuban or a blueberry-rich Medusa Cosmo (all $85) are both large and very potent. Whites come in at $65-$80 a glass, reds at $70-$80, and you can also order pâté ($110) or cheese ($175) platters to feast on at the marble bar. They open ‘from 6pm until late’, meaning this could become a key station for the after-midnight crowd in search of nourishing conversation, privacy and strong drinks.
On our visit, we were pleased to feel a ‘tucked-away’ vibe. Okay, so there’s a knocking shop right out back where you smoke and the bar space is ultra-tight (yet still contains an elegant chaise longue), but the staff and the punters immediately make you feel like you’re at a secret spot for world-weary drinkers. The Medusa folks are still tinkering with the space, the menu and the food, but they shouldn’t tinker with the music. When was the last time you entered a bar in HK with Nina Simone’s I Put A Spell On You ushering you in alluringly? We’ll be back again to see how that spell is going. JJ Healy
B/F, 49 Staunton St, Soho, 2858 3129.