Parlour was made for Instagram and Wechat. Everything from the disco ball pizza oven to the brass bar and cool light fixtures and a giant origami giraffe screams take a photo of me and post to social media!
This is in the newish Columbia Circle complex which seems to exist solely for social media posting. The big draw here is the refurbished country club including a very old, but awesome-looking swimming pool which was apparently used by the Americans in the 20’s. People come just to take photos of it. Last time I was there, people were actually waiting in line just to get the perfect photo of the swimming pool.
Overall, they have done a good job with the whole complex and I really wanted to recommend this place, the only small problem is I just did not like the food.
The presentation of the food is great and will surely make a worthy addition to your wechat moments. But the portions are tiny, maybe all that empty plate is to show how high end it is.
The salmon was dry and completely unseasoned. The bottom of the pizza was soggy (the disco ball pizza oven really is just for photos). The seafood on top of the seafood rice tasted good, but the rice itself was super mushy like oatmeal and also didn’t really taste like anything.
On Saturday night, the place was mainly empty.
The night we went, the swimming pool was closed for a fashion show by the Chinese athletic brand Qiaodan. You may have heard of them, they are the ones that took the Chinese translation of Michael Jordan’s name and trademarked it in China before he could. The words couldn’t mean anything else in Chinese, but hey, they got to it first, right?
Parlour is the same way, it has a lot of the things of a place you would like, but it’s just not all there. Fire up the pizza oven and I’d give it another try.
We paid about 300 RMB per person with some drinks.
Thought I would give the much-touted Columbia Country Club compound that is sandwiched between Yan'an Xi Lu and Panyu Lu, a second shot. I was somewhat reluctant to venture back, having had a poor experience at another of the restaurants within. My arm was twisted by a fair maiden, what more can one do, but acquiesce.
Arrived at around 19h30, through what appeared to be the back door of the restaurant? “Shanghai Sign writers” aren't making much money these days, they could make a fortune on directional signage. There were just two other diners seated within the rather large Parlour. Oh dear I thought this does not bode well, especially when “three doors down” Inkwood was “chock a block”, did we choose the right venue for dinner I am saying to myself.
We were seated at a table, with chairs at the right height to table ratio, wonders never cease! Offered the menu, and drinks list by a charming young waitress called Cathy and opted to start with drinks, a glass of Prosecco and a glass of Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc, both were served at the correct temperature, the pours were generous, and price point spot on for a change.
Seeing the many reviews from other social platforms, decided to go with what seemed to be the most popular dishes. Wishbone fried chicken wings, Vietnamese style of serving with a tangy dipping sauce, with a mix of crunchy pickled beetroot and radish on the side, which makes a change from the usual fare around town of serving a blue cheese dip with wings. Unsure why they call them wishbone though, a bit tough and dry. Tuna Tartar, now any time one reads a menu, you conjure up what you think the dish might resemble, this dish was actually pretty dam good, two slices of what appeared to be compressed rice cake, topped with the chopped tuna and to round off a quail’s egg atop, could have done with just a little more seasoning of salt in my opinion. Mortadella Pizza, what more can be said it’s a thin crust pizza with a Curly Wurly topping of pistachio sauce. Beef Dripping chips, served with Kimchi sauce, not bad, at least they were once thick cut potatoes, none of your shoestring jobbies. A further three glasses wine, this time a Shiraz from Down Under, again decent pours and affordable pricing To end, a white chocolate parfait, just right and well presented, the chef is obviously talented in this department.
We were there for about two hours, delighted to see other diners coming in and enjoying the fare, and cross section of folk. Great selection of music, sort of throwback to the 70’s and 80’s sounds of Philly and Motown music played, and not blaring out. Overall a good impression of the venue, certainly value for money at 636RMB for two, just a pity there were not more punters on a Friday evening, but then again it was raining. I would certainly recommend.
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