The Fringe Club has finally found a new tenant, more than ten years since Michelle Garnaut’s beloved fine-dining restaurant M at the Fringe closed its doors. The dim sum and Chiuchow restaurant Nove Chinese Kitchen will take over the second-floor venue next month.
Currently occupying a small Chinoiserie-styled space on Li Yuen Street East in Central, with large red lanterns hanging from the ceilings and ink calligraphy paintings on the walls, The Fringe Club is a big step up for Nove. To help with the transition, they’ve recruited Chef Umberto Bombana of three-Michelin star restaurant 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana who will oversee the operations, while China Tang’s former dim sum master Wong Yiu-Por and Chiuchow specialist Poon Kwai-Chung from Chiu Tang will run the kitchen. Resident mixologist Kama Ma will shake up tea-inspired cocktails for guests, too.
Their new home in The Fringe Club — a not-for-profit arts institution in a Grade-1 listed building on Lower Albert Road — was once a dairy farm cold storage depot built in colonial-era Hong Kong in 1892. It’s iconic striped, curved facade stand out amid the towering skyscrapers of Central, but the real magic comes to life inside with two studio theatres, three exhibition areas and a rehearsal room serving as host to more than 500 arts groups from around the world.
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M on the Fringe inhabited its heritage home for more than 20 years, and although Garnaut vowed to her regulars that she would open a new restaurant when it closed down in 2009, the Australian restaurateur could not find a building that would qualify for her portfolio. All M Restaurants occupy impressive locations: M on the Bund in Shanghai, and Capital M in Beijing, which overlooks Tiananmen Square, and while she considered relocating to Tai Kwun, the colonial police station in Central, ultimately that did not work out.
Nove welcomes in a new era for The Fringe Club. The 50-seat restaurant, which opens in June, will be designed by The China Club’s Albert Kwan, who draws on Chinese and colonial traditions, and is sure to be impressive.