Polux is part of the Paul Pairet package. He’s the Ultraviolet / Mr and Mrs Bund guy, and he opened Polux as a more casual, bistro-style restaurant this year. Predictably, Polux received a “Bib Gourmand” in the 2020 Michelin Guide. Predictably, it’s both absolutely decent and a little flat.
The bistro-style stuff tastes and looks good. Crispy shoe-string fries, toasted club sandwiches, and brunch hashes for hashtag brunching. There’s a lot of very competent cooking of fairly basic stuff going on. Shout out to the coconut latte, too – my friend said it was probably the best coffee he’s ever had, and I’m inclined to agree.
Décor and service are both stylish. I have a lot of love for the incongruous floral napkins, and a little less love for the brown waistcoats. Prices aren’t bad, either. As a general rule, small plates are around 80rmb, brunch dishes around 110rmb, mains 150-180rmb, and desserts vary. In total, we paid 1067rmb for four people at brunch time – no booze but a lot of coffee and tea.
I wouldn’t race back to Polux, though, for a couple of reasons. I know it’s fussy, but the choice to finely chop my burrata before serving it was bewildering. Part of the joy of eating burrata is the moment of ooze – that lovely moment when you break the outer layers and the interior spills out. At Polux, they pre-mince your burrata. Odd decision. I also found certain dishes, such as the soft egg or the iced tea, a bit empty.
Polux is a beautifully-designed bistro with a beautifully-designed menu and some beautifully-executed food. It’s fairly expensive as a brunch option, but fairly cheap for Paul Pairet. Go for a coconut latte and some fries, if nothing else, and watch the beautiful people chat away their mornings.
Polux in Xintiandi serves up a menu of French bistro classics by Paul Pairet, a chef known for Michelin stars and some of Shanghai’s most well-known (and most high-end) restaurants. This one is more mid-range, simple and accessible but bang on point. Bistro stuff, but done really well. All thoroughly French and classic, plus an apparently killer burger.
It’s not only already one of the best options for dining in these parts, but also one of the few places that maybe actually benefits from the crowded, vaguely touristy surroundings. Without getting too romantic about it, sitting out on the terrace watching throngs of people pass while being gently ribbed by a French waiter took me back to holidays in Paris. Cozy-yet-buzzing vibes.
Service in general is great, though we did end up waiting a long time for our mains. The food is exactly what you want from a place like this, simple French classics that are as rich as they are well-executed. Highlights are a precision-cooked duck confit, a fork-tender beef cheek steak served with buttery mashed potato and beef jus, and a charcuterie plate that comes with some epic paté and rustic bread.
If you’re looking for a date spot, a place to take friends that want a bit of luxurious comfort or just want to hit somewhere trendy that actually lives up to the hype, you could do way worse.
Prices: RMB 200 – RMB 300 per person (depending on drinks)
Summary: Excellent mid-range French spot in the heart of Xintiandi. Deservedly well-liked thanks to its good service, atmospheric indoor and outdoor seating and hearty, excellent cooking. Great for dates and small groups.
Polux is a great addition to Xintiandi in the location where Kabb used to be. For those who have been in Shanghai for a long time, Kabb was a local favorite not for standing out particularly in any one area, but rather for being so comfortable and consistently better than the average for service, food and price for many years. Polux takes the formula and ups all three, especially the last one.
The food is way, way better than Kabb. It is basically French bistro food done exceptionally well. We had the charcuterie, beef tartar, salad, pork and steak fries. We finished every dish completely. The service was not just Shanghai good, but great by any standard anywhere. Both the Chinese and foreign wait staff seemed knowledgeable about the menu and well-coordinated despite a very busy night.
The patio is great for sitting outside and people watching. If you’re in the mood, get a jar of negroni to share. It’s basically a giant serving of the cocktail with ice on the side. By the time you finish the second one, your table should be all smiles and ready to go for the night.
The place was packed, so make sure you make a reservation.
It will run about 300 rmb per person.
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