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[On the Radar]: It's Wine O'Clock at Crush

A spin around the food and drink menu at that new wine bar on Shaanxi Bei Lu
Aug 5, 2021 | 12:00 Thu
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.

What Is It:

A classy but casual New York-ish wine bar on Shaanxi Bei Lu. Crush is not reinventing the wheel here in this genre but it’s the bedrock principles done right. Careful quality on the mod-ish wine list and careful quality on the fusion-ish menu. It’s been open for about a month serving up a hefty and varied wine-by-the-glass and bottles list, and a la carte accompanying plates. They’re easing into more exact tasting menus in the coming weeks, and the requisite free-flow brunch deal.

Fancy schmancy!

Crush is wine importer and distributer Vault Asia founder Elliot Shay with chef Dylan Briley, previously of Mr. & Mrs. Bund and Goga. On cocktail duties is 3 1/3’s Sky, who previously did drinks at M1NT. With lots of Shanghai F&B experience and some successful credits on their resumes, this team is bringing a high-end but accessible wine bar experience to Jing’an district, in an area already teaming with stuff.

Area:

Crush has assumed the space of UVA, a former Italian-focused wine bar. Lately, this area has really blown up with Shangkang Li — that F&B courtyard thing with Riink, Bubba’s, Homeslice, and all the rest. Crush is right across from the Shaanxi Lu entrance of that. Down the road you’ve got all the other Shaanxi Lu bars and restaurants.

Atmosphere:

Warm, golden lights and white marble. Big, gorgeous wine glasses everywhere. Intimate but casual. Tastefully minimal. Felt slightly underdressed in my Skeletor shirt. Probably should have rocked something with a collar, unbuttoned and with the sleeves rolled up just to my forearms.

They’ve got booth seating for groups of wine lovers, more date night-appropriate tables, and solo bar seating for casual glasses.

On the Menu:

The best way to do this is to let these people do their jobs. Tell them in a proud and unwavering voice: “I want two or three interesting and dazzling glasses of wine and the interesting and dazzling food pairings to match”. And then they sort you out. The wine by the glass list is heavy on new school organic and biodynamic wines.

Food is American / Asian fusion and heavy on meat courses. Wagyu, appropriately. You’re looking at lots of bites and appetizers to pair with wine, and a few more gluttonous and main course options for something more involved. Lots of complex flavors and finely wrought variations of wine bar classics.

House-cured bacon wrapped Medjool dates - stuffed with marcona almonds and Stilton cheese - 75rmb

Tropical tuna tartar - with lemon grass and chili-infused coconut milk - 138rmb

M7 Wagyu Carpaccio - with pickled shallots, lemon zest, and cracked black pepper - 128rmb

Poutine - hand cut French fries with house cured bacon, beef jus gravy & house smoked provolone cheese - 98rmb

Tuna Tataki - with miso mustard sauce, furikake, pickled ginger and babty cilantro - 188rmb

Perfectly marbled M8/9 Wagyu tenderloin served with grilled brocolini and hand cut fries - 488rmb

Damage:

For just a few glasses of wine and a few dishes to accompany bring a couple hundred. For something more involved, bring a couple hundred more

Who’s Going:

People looking for casual wine encounters with interesting vintages and people looking for a romantic date idea at a new place.

First Impressions:

Remains to be seen whether Crush can stand out in Shanghai’s frenetic f&B scene. With so many things opening up, something as simple, gimmick-free, and straightforward as Crush Wine Bar might get lost in the shuffle. But it shouldn’t because the food and wine are really, really good here. Lots of complex and unique flavors and lots of attention to detail. And it didn’t feel over my head too, which is nice.

I’d go back for a deeper plunge into the wine list and to re-up on that poutine. 

***

Crush is at 819 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Kangding Lu. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11.30am-2am.

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