Brunch: It's what separates us from the animals.
This month we're looking at newly opened places and seeing what they're serving us on the weekend. We've got brunch standards put through a creative Indian filter from Bombay Bistro, breezy Mediterranean from QV, and classic British fare from Pie Society Canteen.
1. Bombay Bistro
Good for: Unique and creative dishes that filter Indian cuisine through Western brunch rubrics. Lots of nice surprises on the menu.
Available: From March 16, Bombay Bistro is hosting their brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 3pm.
Prices: A la carte ordering. Mains 58rmb-68rmb; "Curries for One" (48rmb-58rmb); Small Plates (28rmb-68rmb). Optional free-flow Prosecco for 128rmb; free-flow soft drinks and tea, 48rmb.
After a brief stint on the Yongfu Lu -- they came too late to that party -- Bombay Bistro is chasing the crowd across town a bit at Found 158, serving your Indian brunch alternative to the popular tables at Hooked and El Santo (we reviewed both of those here). Despite its necessary concessions to minimall architecture, they're offering up a slick and characterful environment. Rich and deep colors and patterns, with group, bar, and couples seating, all set to a noticeably well-chosen playlist of ambient and chill-out music. Feels chic. Feels trendy. Feels international. The mandate on the menu is to showcase the more playful, globally-influenced side of Indian cuisine and that factors into the brunch items, which are continental fare filtered through classic Indian flavors -- home-style and street dishes -- with an eye to interesting combinations and plating. Lots of spruced up street food variations. Lots of interesting curries.
For brunch, they're offering things like a Desi Omelette, "Breakfast Samosas" (including a duck and "three cheese" variation), Bombay Grilled Cheese, and a Butter Chicken Sandwich, amongst a melange of other Indian-mixed-with-general-Western-brunch-standards. They do a Nargisi Kofta "original Scotch egg". Which is neat. It's a la carte ordering with a section of mains complimented by small plate options, starters, curries, desserts, and lassis. Maybe 200rmb all-in per person unless you go deep on their cocktails, which you probably should.
Massive points for creativity and uniqueness. There's a fair amount of sameness with Indian restaurants in Shanghai, serving the same 8-10 types of dishes, and it's nice to see a place do something else with the deep and rich palate of this cuisine. Where else can you get breakfast samosas? Or a Scotch Egg like this? On the whole, the food is excellent and surprising as well. Lots of brightness and interesting combinations. It's great. From environment to the music to prices to service to the food, it's definitely one to seek out if you're looking for an encounter with modern, creative Indian cuisine.
2. QV Wine Bar
Good for: A post-club come-down with a vinyl DJing playing records, small plates of Mediterranean, and hair-of-the-dog-style drinking.
Available: From March 16, Saturday and Sunday, 11.30am to 4pm.
Prices: Two dishes: 98rmb; three dishes: 128rmb; extra dish 48rmb. From primo, secundo, and dolce sections. Cocktails 40rmb-60rmb. Free-flow Prosecco for 128rmb until 3pm.
The Popolo Group are slowly and honestly building a little F&B empire in Shanghai, with populist-oriented venues dishing up authentic Italian food and drink to a price-conscious middle market. Among their fleet is Gemma, Bar Centrale, and Alimentari, with the latest QV, the most drinks-oriented one, recently wrested from Enoterra. It's got that Shanghai wine bar look going on -- sexy mood lighting, deep woods everything, a serious library wall of wine -- but it cleans up nicely during the day and gets a lot of natural light though big windows at the front. Eating brunch in here, it doesn't feel like you've fallen asleep at the bar and gotten woken up the next day by the ayi.
For brunch, they're hosting a Vinyl DJ and prices that are super cheap on items like steak tartare, burrata, avocado focaccia, along with a few seafood secondos clearly an attempt to appeal to a younger, price-conscious, dance music-oriented crowd that might've spent the previous night partying at the neighboring Cafe de Staigiaririieieeers or Malabar. DJ Altieri on the mix.
You can't beat these prices. You could get a free-flow Prosecco with a few plates thrown in for under 250rmb. Most of it is sort of standard, snackish wine bar items -- and there's nothing wrong with that; they do that well -- but there's a fair amount of playfulness happening on the menu as well to entice you in (a duck breast dish in particular). Jing'an: what a time to be alive.
3. Pie Society Canteen
Good for: A classic Charles Bronson-esque British fry-up, creative English muffins, flexible breakfast schedule.
Available: Daily, during operating hours. On Saturday and Sunday, they're open 11.30am to 9pm.
Prices: A la carte ordering. Options in the "All Day Breakfast" section range from 58rmb to 88rmb.
Go for the pies, sure, but you can also go for the "All-Day Breakfast" options, which are also served during sacred brunch hours and thus fair game for The Bunch List. We're back at Siesta Jane's already-popular Pie Society expansion, Pie Society Canteen in Jing'an, raiding their breakfast (trans. "brunch") menu. They're adding a few more breakfast-y things in the coming weeks, i.e. a Fish Pie, but for now it's about 5 or 6 options with two fry-ups ("Classic English" 88rmb; "Veggie Fry-Up" 88rmb), a few crumpets dishes, and the "Bubble & Squeek," a potato and spinach patty dish. You've also got the options to add on extras, from more veggie / egg / mushrooms for 15rmb to more meat for 18rmb. The majority of these are Canteen-specific.
Lovely bit of crumpet this...
Does what it says one the tin. Classic English breakfast. Could there be another sausage on that plate? Ehh. Maybe. Or maaaaybe another hash brown guy at least. Nonetheless, it's a great, heaving ton of food. Nice amount of bacon. Beautiful tomato. Proper gorg. Sausage was decent. If you're feeling more adventurous, the crumpets dish pictured above is like a savory pancakes kind of thing. Chutney and bacon to round it out. Also real good. Didn't try the veggie fry-up option but I like living in a world that it exists in and is out there for people.
But yeah, this is available all the time too so if you're in the process of Bridget Jones-ing your entire life, they can get this to you more late afternoon, early evening-ish.