Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: From the guys who brought us Nest, Rye & Co adds a Nordic twist to the Shanghai food scene. Given the fuss made about this place, my lunch date and I thought we would be in trouble when we forgot to make a reservation but in fact when we arrived at a bit past noon, the place was only partially filled and peacefully quiet. Maybe not the best value for the regular lunch rush crowd, even with the lunch specials on the menu.
The most notably Nordic dish was the smorrebrod, an open-faced rye bread topped with cream, cheese, smoked salmon, and micro-greenery. A rather small portion but delicately constructed. The scallop risotto (specials vary daily) was richer and heartier, a satisfying dish – highly recommend! Generally, the food is simple but well-executed.
Service was just ok although I expected more – the server could not tell me what the soup of the day was, and he also did not know the pasta/risotto special.
The Gang: A smattering of the work lunch crowd and leisurely ladies who lunch (on their day off)
The Damage: Lunch deals starting from 68-128rmb. Soup+Smorrebrod+Drink=98rmb. Burger or Fish&Chip+Drink=98rmb. Soup+Pasta or Risotto+Drink=128rmb.
The Down n’ Dirty: In the mall, but no complaints in a high-end mall like this one.
Shanghai seems to be home to a suspiciously high number of Scandinavian cafes, the most well-known being the Wagas chain and their ever-growing spawn of eateries. It’s certainly a refreshing contrast to Chinese cuisine when you’re craving something light and fresh. Although many are loosely labelled as ‘Nordic’ they don’t always offer some of the classic dishes which truly define this type of cuisine. I like to judge a good menu based on the quality of the rye, the smørrebrød combos and of course the pastry selection. Rye&Co delivers on all fronts.
Rye&Co have nailed a prime spot. Set on the top two floors Xintiandi plaza they have made good use of the natural light and coupled it with the rich wooden interiors to make it warm and welcoming. With a relaxed booth style layout below and a classy cocktail bar on the rooftop they have created two elegant and complimentary spaces.
At the entrance you are greeted by a delectable cabinet of baked treats like the cinnamon scroll and a variety of fresh loaves. If you like a super dark and seedy rye this is your place.
Dishes of mention:
Smoked eggplant and lentil– beautiful babaganoush style eggplant with cucumber that added a nice crunch and cut through the smokey flavour
Pumpkin and stracciatella– sweet thin sheets of pumpkin paired perfectly with the cheese
Cinammon scroll – Impossibly soft. I could eat way too many of these.
Final comments. Presentation was impressive - theres nothing like a few well-placed microgreens to spruce things up. They also serve an excellent cup of coffee.
If you can pull off all the things you need for a great sunny brunch spot from the top of a mall in downtown Shanghai (at an incredibly reasonable price) – I’d say that’s a win. I’m picking Rye&Co as a solid brunch place anytime of the year.
Price for 2 people: 200 RMB
Let me begin this review by stating my awareness for the fact that my photos literally do this place zero justice (except the one of the burger for RMB 98, which probably does the burger too much justice). But I also feel like every publication in Shanghai has reviewed Rye & Co with some seriously gorgeous photos, so I’m just here to balance things out. Honestly, it wasn’t bad food-wise, but it wasn’t so special that it was worth eating in a mall. The red cocktail bar upstairs is for drinks only, so we ate in the restaurant on the first level… where we were very aware that we were in a mall. But the service was friendly and the prices not extortionate, so it was an alright experience. We did see some people eating upstairs, so maybe there’s a menu for nibbles, but I’m not sure. The bar does feel very separated from the mall, and I think the outside will be very nice in the summer.
The biggest bonus is that brunch runs all day. My friends and I couldn’t pull it together to get over there in the morning, so we went in the evening and weren’t restricted by Shanghai’s usual 3pm brunch cut-off. When we were there, they were out of Fish and Chips (RMB 88) and Swedish Meatballs (RMB 108), but I’ll give them time to work out the kinks. I had the Nordic Breakfast (RMB 42), which was basically just eggs benedict with smoked salmon, and felt pretty good about the portion size.
Average price per person (no alcohol): RMB 92
Overall, Rye and Co is nice enough for those who live in the Xintiandi area, but it is very much so still in a mall.
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