We are officially in the Shanghai sweet spot between the rainy end of winter and the scorching heat of summer, so now’s the time to seek out and enjoy al fresco dining. In this city, nice decks and good food are usually mutually exclusive, but the aptly named Together accomplishes the rare feat of doing a great job with both.
We went for lunch on a sunny workday and were able to grab the last table out of about a dozen on their deck. The dishes all seem pretty simple at first sight but have subtle creative flourishes to elevate them to the next level.
The burrata had the creamy consistency you would expect in Italy. But paired with beetroot, grapefruit and pistachios, the dish had a much more unique and complex flavor than the typical preparation.
The Tournedos Pork with pepperoncini sauce was a much larger portion of meat than I was expecting. I couldn’t tell if this dish was more Asian or western, but I could tell it was delicious. The meat was tender and the sauce had a kick that helped balance the richness.
It is close enough to the Jingan business district to get in and out for lunch, and just far enough that you probably won’t run into a judgy co-worker catching you having a glass of wine in the middle of the day.
Kid friendliness: Waitstaff were very friendly. They have a large outdoor patio, but on a sunny weekday, most tables were taken up by business type lunches, and we still caught a bit of side eye.
148 RMB for lunch set including starter and main
This was my second visit to Together for dinner. The first time was during the soft opening and it was not disappointing at all. I was amazed how perfectly every detail was planned and how smooth was the service in such an ambitious culinary project, preceded by the people behind The Commune Social.
This time the experience was different. The seating plan changed, the tables are much closer to each other. The service wasn't smooth and the food was't astonishing like the previous time. Went with my partner in crime and had the braised octopus, the tuna tartare and the oxtail bone marrow for starters. For mains, we shared the roasted truffle chicken and the grilled salmon on miso sauce. I have to highlight that you can choose half or full portions of the mains which is very convenient so you get a taste of everything.
The verdict: not awesome not bad, a sort of 马马虎虎 in Chinese –so, so-. The tuna tartar was a little savorless, the homemade gnocchi’s that come along with the bone marrow were overcooked and the chicken and salmon average. The sides - potatoes and brussels sprouts- were slightly dry as well. The desserts were okay, homemade gelato and a blueberry tart -you can choose any portion of tart/cake you would like from the desserts table.
The place is really well designed since you have several options for seating: a bar facing the kitchen, the general salon and a private one -although now the tables are much close in the general area. The style is minimal, the lighting is very appropriate but a bit noisy.
I guess Together is a successful restaurant as you may see is always full, but don't get relaxed guys, keeping the quality of the food –specially the flavors- and the service, in a long term basis, is the most difficult task in the gastronomic world.
Having experienced Commune Social, and knowing that Together was from the same stable, was really looking forward to dining at this much touted venue seeing all the rave reviews.
Started off with some mediocre wines by the glass, there are not that many to choose from and the price points, well for the pour they remain forgettable. Ordered the following, as these were what seemed to popular on all the social media sites at present. Crab Dashi – heavy set in jelly, unlike the image posted and lackluster in taste. Australian Wagyu beef tartar – lacked depth, needed additional seasoning, too much went into the presentation. Octopus, gochujang, crunchy crumbs – once you scrapped of the vast amount of blackened crumbs away the octopus was actually soft and tasty, so too much of a breadcrumb coating. Tournedos pork (really belly pork) with pepperoncini sauce - despite being belly pork, this dish was succulent, but could have additional sauce on the side, the dish was accompanied with side of Endives & Radicchio, it’s known that an endive can be at times bitter in taste, but coupled with a dark bitter sauce did not help! Ordered another side to go with the main course of roasted new potatoes, these were excellent. If one is going to use French kitchen terminology for a dish i.e. Tournedos, then make sure that cut is in fact a Tournedo, and not a strip of belly pork. Bread bag - nothing special, the whipped butter, topped with sea salt, sadly the butter had been pre-prepared and left open in a fridge, you get that distinct taste of a fridge permeating through the butter?
The meal was accompanied by a further two wines by the glass, a Malbec which frankly was the only decent glass of wine by the glass for the evening. The venue was full, and extremely noisy, far too loud to have an intimate conversation. The wait staff were friendly, and efficient. Disappointing and not likely to return, a mediocre meal for two RMB940
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