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  • emmgant on Barbarian
    29 Nov 2018

    I’m a big fan of Barbarian for evening drinks. I go there regularly as I like that I don’t actually have to make decisions. You can simply tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for, and he or she will whip something up for you on the spot. Herbal-sweet-vodka-something? Sure. Sour-whiskey-floral-something? Done. The bar staff is great, and the price usually hovers around RMB 60 for uniquely crafted cocktails.

    Barbarian is great for those of us who are trying to cut down on carbs. (Not me, but I’m happy for you keto-fiends.) The menu is really meat heavy, and you can’t really go wrong with meat on a stick. I ordered some BBQ Pork Ribs (RMB 98) as well as the Primitive Steak Salad (RMB 68). I’m really getting behind the salad, as a steak salad usually doesn’t have pumpkin or maple bacon dressing. It was a twist on the usual. Ribs were grilled to perfection.

    I’d recommend Barbarian for the meat lover in the best of us. The prices are fair, and the food hits the spot. The downstairs has a distinctly cozy ambiance, but the upstairs terrace is a more open option before the weather gets too cool for even a heat lamp to override.  

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  • Because it was Friday, I decided that I deserved to sample a new bougie lunch set near my office. Pelikan runs a lunch deal for a starter + main for RMB 138 or a starter + main + dessert for RMB 168. I obviously went for the three course lunch because I’m worth it. I started with the Kale and Figs and ordered the Cod and Peach as my main. Everything I ordered felt healthy but also quite sweet. I can’t say that I totally expected cod to go well with peaches, but I was also pleasantly surprised there. The dessert was the star player, though. The Milk and Honey was a whole lot of honeycomb, and I’m all about that crunch.

    The restaurant itself is lovely inside and offers diners a tropical vibe, which was just what I needed as it is getting colder. Overall, the place was trendy but also very comfortable. It wasn’t too crowded around lunch time, and the service staff were very friendly and attentive. I’m not sure if I’d want to pay the full menu prices to come back around dinner time, but the lunch menu does offer a lot of options to get to know Pelikan for a cheaper rate, and I’ll certainly be back.

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  • As a big fan of the Popolo group in Shanghai, I knew I’d be in for a good meal at Bar Centrale. While Gemma is still my favorite choice in the group for Italian, Bar Centrale caters to a more casual crowd with affordable prices and accessible food. I went for the Spinach Pasta (RMB 78), while my friend opted for the Vesuvio Pizza (RMB 90). We also got two orders of Fried Emmental Balls (RMB 48) because we are greedy people who love cheese above all else, but we both conceded that one order probably would have been adequate. I regret nothing.

    Aside from our elation regarding the fried balls of cheese, the pizza was a hit with my friend. It was everything you could want in a pizza and hit the spot. All ingredients are fresh from Italy, and you can see the wood fire grill from the main restaurant. The spinach pasta was also tasty, but I do feel like it is something I could make at home. Worse, it’s something I would make at home. And I hate cooking with a firey passion of a thousand burning suns. So, overall, good, but I wouldn’t order it again. There wasn’t anything special about it. Simple can be a good thing, but in Shanghai, flavors need to pop for a restaurant to be remembered.

    Overall, I’ll certainly be back for dinner to meet some friends soon. The food was warming, the atmosphere lively, and I enjoyed it. Bar Centrale is where you go when you’re in the need for something aesthetically pleasing but comfortable.

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  • I have a long standing appreciation for all of the Shanghai Funkas. When Funka del Sur popped up, I was elated to find all of my South American favorites on the menu. I always get a ceviche clasico (RMB 45) and alfajores (RMB 20) for dessert. You really can’t go wrong on their menu, and you really can’t go wrong on their various deals throughout the week. During the week until 8pm, delicious drinks are on the menu for RMB 50 and under. When I found out they have a RMB 100 all-you-can-eat meat and cheese deal, however, I decided to test it out for myself.

    My friend and I arrived hungry with dreams of the manager coming over to say, “Sorry, you aren’t allowed to order any more meat and cheese.” That never happened. The friendly staff refilled our boards promptly every time. We made it through four rounds before tapping out. We felt like we did the best we could, but we really expected better of ourselves. Overall, we certainly got our money’s worth for a Monday. With great food, deals, and music, Funka del Sur is exactly what Jing’an needs. May their food and drink deals continue to keep us full and happy for a long time!

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  • Masala Art was recommended by a number of people when I posted around my wechat groups asking for help finding an Indian restaurant with booths that wouldn’t mind my friend and I, uh, getting really comfortable for the long haul. It was still fancier than I wanted it to be, but I really can’t fault the place for being too nice. We were hungover and wanted a curry, and we didn’t want anything remotely bougie. They did have a booth on one side, and they didn’t appear to judge us as we both schlumped down into it. I think the restaurant had lovely decorations, and the staff were very well dressed, but it wasn’t the dive I was looking for in that moment. They did kindly tolerate our disheveled look as we ordered an obscene amount of food for two people.

    Star players were the Banana Lassi (RMB 29), which came out really quickly to my dehydrated delight, and the Aloo Pudina Angara (RMB 49), which was all the starchy potato goodness I needed stuffed with cottage cheese and mint. It was the right amount of spicy for our mood. We also of course ordered multiple orders of garlic and butter nan (RMB 19/each). There were also a few different curries we ordered, with Butter Chicken Masala (RMB 69) showcasing just how basic we really are. Overall, we enjoyed the presentation of the food, the food itself, and the friendly staff. It’s where you should go for a moderately priced casual date-night or dinner with some buds. And maybe don’t wear sweatpants like we did.

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  • Pierogi Ladies 2.0 opened a couple of weeks ago, and I went on the day of their opening for their all-you-can-eat pierogi deal. It was too good to be true. The people of Shanghai spoke loudly when they bought out the stock. It wasn't a total loss of a first visit, though. I enjoyed the adorable new location by sitting on one of the in-restaurant swing seats drinking buy-one-get-one Polish beer instead. It's definitely a place that's welcoming enough for a hangout. Forget coffee shops, Pierogi Ladies is the new place to hang. They're running all kinds of deals throughout the week. Pop in for happy hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-7pm for drink deals or buy-one-get-one-free on pierogi every Tuesday from 6-9pm.

    I went back a week later to order the classic pierogi, feta and spinach pierogi, and beetroot and goat cheese pierogi. Choosing my favorite would be far too difficult. Each plate came with a bowl of sour cream, so you can rest assured that you will have enough to get that perfect texture on your flavor palate. I'm keen to go back to try their weekend brunch, which is RMB 98 or 88 depending on your choice and includes pierogi with a number of delicious looking sides. It's not all delicious pierogi, though. There's also soups, salads and desserts to sample at this adorable little lane location.

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  • I'm a big fan of Poke Bowls being the latest food craze. They're healthy, filling and flavorful. I often pop into Little Catch Poke Cafe for lunch or dinner as it's close to my office, and I always leave feeling pretty good. The restaurant is super casual, and you order at the counter before going to sit wherever you like. I think it'd be a good spot for groups most nights as it's usually most crowded during the lunch rush. If you stick to just one thing on the menu, the average price is RMB 60-70 for a dish. It can get a little pricey if you're like me--always adding extra avocado and throwing in a coconut water (RMB 20) I probably don't need.

    My two favorite poke bowls are the Salmon Guacapoke (RMB 75) and the Hawaiian Tuna (RMB 60). The flavor combo of tuna, soy, ginger, onion, fried garlic, roe, scallions, and cashews makes me happiest, but Guacapoke is just fun to say when you order it. There are really no bad choices at Little Catch Poke Cafe. The seafood is always fresh, and I always leave here feeling like I did something good for my body even if I end up grabbing one of those Strictly Cookies (RMB 12) they leave up at the counter.

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  • I stayed in town over Golden Week, and I went to five brunches. While I was starting to get a bit delirious over what felt like my millionth egg of the week, The Commune Social blew all of the other brunches out of the water. From the beautiful yet simple decor inside to the friendly service, I was in a really good mood before I even got my food. The portions were incredibly generous, and we definitely ordered too much.

    Their brunch menu works by letting the customer choose three dishes for RMB 188. This is more than enough food for one, and all of the dishes are portioned generously. I got too excited by the a la carte menu as well, so we also ordered the Beef Tar Tar (RMB 98) and the 'Tongue and Cheek' Empanada (RMB 98). That amounted to four dishes per person plus a smoothie each. It was the last day before we had to go back to work, so it was necessary and delicious.

    From the brunch menu, we sampled potato gratin, seared scallops, lamb shoulder, and smoked salmon + potato pancake. It was all really rich, but it was easy to tell the restaurant was using fresh ingredients and complimentary flavors. I can't honestly believe that it took me this long to get over to The Commune Social, and I can easily imagine it being lovely for anything from a date night to a night alone with a good meal and a book. The food was warming, delicious, and well thought out. I'm looking forward to many more meals here.




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  • It's been tried and tested and reviewed many times before, but I can't resist professing my love for this tiny little spot publicly on the internet. Greg Jurksztowicz is the man of all of our dreams thanks to his cheesy and heavenly creation, Co. Cheese Melt Bar. He's literally hit the nail on the head with everything I like in a dining establishment--it's a comfortable neighborhood bar that sticks to your stomach. Even if you're not big on grilled cheese, it's still a great place to hang out with a beer. But if you're not into grilled cheese, you probably don't deserve this place.

    Open and airy in the summer and cozy in the winter, Co. Cheese Melt Bar is after my own heart. You can select sandwiches from the menu to enjoy incredible flavor combinations you never thought possible, or you can order your favorite type of cheese melted on perfect sourdough. Greg wasn't even judgmental that one time I asked for a double portion of brie. You see, there's no real reason to ever request double portions of cheese at this place, as your sandwich is going to come out dripping in cheesy goodness either way, but he just seemed to know it was that kind of day for me. No questions asked. This guy makes the bar what it is--welcoming and warm.

    On a recent visit with a friend, we decided to go full cheese monster. We started with a cheese board (RMB 100) that came with three cheeses, olives, pickles, walnuts and bread. We both also went full throttle with large sandwiches (RMB 65), which was silly because the small (RMB 50) is already a really large sandwich. We got the #4 (tortilla chips, refried beans, fried chorizo, jalapeno salsa, avocado, and cheddar) and #9 (Kraft Mac & Cheese and American cheese) in order to swap flavors. Yeah, that's right. You can get Mac & Cheese fried up in a sandwich. Did I mention this place is the restaurant of dreams?

    Be sure to get down here for affordable eats after work or before a night out. Grab a beer and hang with friends, or order a Pickleback (whiskey shot chased with pickle juice) and make some new ones. I just can't recommend this place enough.

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  • Stone Brewing has been open for just over a month, and I've already been three times due to the proximity to my house. It's good food and great beer at a fair price. When I had some out-of-towners craving some classic western food after a long trip through the countryside, I decided to take them for Sunday brunch at Stone Brewing.

    Stone Brewing is the new neighbor to The Cannery, and for whatever reason, I never get served at The Cannery, and I spend most of my meal chasing down service staff. I had been joking that I hope this bad luck didn't rub off on Stone Brewing next door, and I probably should have kept my thoughts to myself because on the 3rd visit, that's exactly what happened.

    We waited 40 minutes for drinks in the restaurant that was only about half full, and nobody took our food order for the first hour despite requesting that someone come by the table to help us out. It was borderline comical. We weren't being horrible about it, either, though at a certain point, I had to ask to speak with the manager. This is where Stone Brewing turned it around.

    We got a full apology, and the restaurant compensated us for all of our drinks. This sort of outcome isn't super common in Shanghai, and we honestly weren't expecting it. Obviously, we were happy about it and ready to enjoy the atmosphere and move on to the good food. Our table enjoyed the Crab Cakes Benedict (RMB 108), The YuYuan Breakfast Sandwich (RMB 58), The Hangover Burger (RMB 88), and Chicken and Waffles (RMB 98). The portions are large, and the taste kept us all in a good mood.

    Overall, I will absolutely be back to Stone Brewing, and I'm hoping that the service issues are a bit of a one-off. They've got everything I like in a neighborhood joint--good atmosphere, a tasty variety of food options, and fair prices. I'm sure they're just still working out the kinks as they are a new restaurant, but I'm hoping they'll be sticking around Shanghai for a while to come.

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  • emmgant on Husk
    19 Sep 2018

    I have been in love with Husk since the first time I tasted their brunch about a year ago, but when I started a new job by West Nanjing, I entered the wonderful world of Husk lunch sets. At RMB 138 for two courses and a drink, it just might be the highlight of my work day. While the price is a bit steep to be doing daily, I like going once a week when I'm feeling bougie. It's absolutely worth it, and I leave feeling ready to conquer the rest of my day. Well, I leave feeling full and happy, at least.

    After four hours of starting at a computer screen, the exterior of Husk is a welcome sight with its adorable garden entrance and relaxed color scheme. Once inside, the restaurant is upscale but not pretentious. They are also currently on Chope, so you might as well make a reservation to collect those Chope discount dollars--but lunch time isn't so busy that a reservation is necessary.

    The meal itself is quite heavy for someone who has another four hours of work time ahead of themselves, but I'm a grown woman, and I know what I'm doing. My favorite lunch combinations are the Grilled Calamari with hummus and red wine vinaigrette to start and then ordering Gnocchi with cheese, bacon, fried egg, and tomato sauce to really feel like you ate well. I also highly recommend the Crisp Sesame Shrimp Salad with radicchio, feta, and cucumber as well as the Braised Australian Lamb Shank. I'm a champion, so I managed to finish it all, but the average lunch-goer might have to take home some leftovers. All lunches are accompanied by warm bread and an olive oil and tomato sauce for dipping. Wash it all down with a Rose Lemonade or Cucumber Kiwi for the full set experience. A third course can be added which takes the price up to RMB 148, but I think dessert would make me fall asleep at my desk after waddling out of the restaurant.

    The service staff are friendly and attentive, and I highly recommend popping in from work when you're feeling fancy on a Friday. Or any day for that matter. Husk also offers brunch, dinner, tea, and a fairly priced happy hour suitable for any number of occasions.

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  • "Why are so many of my friends vegetarian?" is a question that keeps me up at night. Good meat is obviously the most important part of any meal, but when it's time to say goodbye to a veggie friend leaving Shanghai, I just had to mentally prepare to be disappointed with dinner.

    Two bites into the Stir-Fried Eggplant (RMB 46), which looked to be a bit more deep fried than stir fried with a delicious sweet and sour sauce, I figured this vegetarian restaurant might not be a total waste of my stomach space.

    One large bite of the Steamed Gluten with Black Fungus and Peanuts (RMB 29) and I couldn't even whine about being at a vegetarian restaurant as I was too busy stuffing my face.

    When the first fake meat dish came out, I was a little wary, but the Vegetarian "Steak" with Black Pepper Sauce (RMB 49) ended up being pretty filling. Turns out all this tofu has a pretty high protein content. I'd still choose actual steak over the fake stuff, but if I stop comparing this dish to real meat, the flavors really hold their own.

    Why were all of my favorite dishes so brown? I don't know.

    Typically, I enjoy leaving a good meal feeling almost sick-full, but all of the vegetarian food left me feeling content-full. This is probably how normal people function at a restaurant. If it hadn't been for the numerous Tsingtao Beer (RMB 18) rounds, we could have easily escaped feeling good about ourselves for under RMB 100 per person.

    The atmosphere inside is relaxed, with a mix of locals and expats alike. I'd be willing to guess that many of the patrons live in the area and decided to pop in for a quick bite. There's also an outside area available that I'm sure will be lovely when Shanghai stops being the temperature of a furnace


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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

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