San Francisco's favorite coffee chain has finally reached our shores. The big one this week is Peet's, now open on Donghu Lu. We're also registering the new fancy Le Petit Bordelais, and Al's Burgers in Reel Mall.
"Peetniks" on the wall there -- a little American coffee bar culture
What Is It: A big deal for Americans. A big deal for West Coast Americans. A big deal for fans of Starbucks too, I guess. Peet's comes from one Dutch fellow called Alfred Peet who used to sell his small-batch hand-roasted Arabic coffee beans in Berkeley, California to university kids in the late 1960s. This was a novel idea at the time because most people were just drinking canned coffee from the supermarket, World War II rationing-style. Peet took his quality beans and opened a few locations in the Bay Area called "Peet's Coffee and Tea". He then taught his technique, along with his store layout style, to a couple of other enterprising fellows who went on to create Starbucks in the 1980s.
Then they became Starbucks. So... yeah. But it started with Alfred Peet, who is seen to have originated the "specialty coffee revolution" aka "second wave" of coffee creation and consumption.
Peet is "the Dutchman who taught America how to drink coffee."
"Fog Latte" - Standard - 42rmb
Peet's Shanghai has a beans station for closer inspection of the goods, along with a swag wall of branded merch.
Peet's beans are sold in supermarkets all over the States and there's a bunch of Peet's coffeebars sprinkled all over the country as well. This is the first Peet's in China, a few gazillion stores behind Starbucks as always. The Shanghai Peet's is two things: It's like your standard Starbucks sort of place where you can grab a coffee on the go or sit down with one and do some laptop stuff. Secondly, they've also got a "slow bar" which is baristas doing "hand brew" coffee -- manually preparing siphon, French press, and pour-over coffee drinks. That's pretty interesting because that's a "third wave" coffee thing and it's a "second wave" chain that's doing it.
Peet's coffee alchemy at their "slow bar"
We won't get into it, suffice it to say, if you want the "Hand Brew" Peet's experience, it is available. This is the menu and pricing so you can see how it stacks up against your regular.
The reverse is a selection of Pastry (9rmb to 30rmb); Sweets from their on-site bakery (29-40rmb for cake slices; 198rmb to 400rmb for full cakes depending on size); sandwiches (38rmb-58rmb) and salads (48rmb-68rmb) from their cold fridge.
First Impressions: Peet's: So hot right now. When they opened earlier this week there was a line out the door and down the stairs of their patio. Think it's a little slice of home for a lot of Cali transplants. My impressions: It's like a really nice Starbucks. Coffee is excellent of course -- they've got six to eight trademark blends. The cheese cake was really good too. For now, it might not be the best place to get laptop stuff done because it's really busy. But yeah, can't really go wrong with a 24rmb "Coffee of the Day"... a nice addition to Shanghai.
Le Petit Bordelais
The Le Bordelais wine wave continues to wash over Shanghai with this, their fourth venue in the city. This one's at the intersection of Panyu Lu and Xinhua Lu, assuming the location of Charlie's.
Not exactly "petit" actually. Le Petit Bordelais is pretty lux but still comfortable inside -- good for dates or groups of friends on a night out. The key is the pricing: They do really cheap wines by the glass here (25rmb and up) on an ever-changing selection of wines. Go for the cheap Bordeaux wines -- they only serve Bordeaux wines -- and splurge out on some food to go with it.
We're fans of Al's Diner so we wanted to see what was up with the burger version, now open in the basement of Reel Mall. It's... okay. Pretty straightforward. Six variations of burgers, including a chicken, and fish variety (50rmb), with the option to upgrade to a meal for an extra 15rmb. Wings, fries, ice cream from Gracies, and shakes -- only three flavors of that last one -- vanilla, chocolate, strawberry.
The BBQ Bacon Burger is alright. Tasted... like a 50rmb hamburger -- about 15 kuai better than Burger King. And about 15rmb cheaper than a similar burger at a "gourmet" burger restaurant. Does the trick. No complaints. Good to stave off hunger pains or a quick lunch.