On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.
On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile 2-3 new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.
A random smattering of newness out there in F&B world this week. A venue up in the sky, one in the park, and one on the corner...
Quick Take: A flower-themed French restaurant on the 50th floor of the Pullman Shanghai Skyway Hotel in Huangpu.
What it is: FED (Flowers Eats Drinks), is a modern French restaurant with a touch of influence from Yunnan, Vietnam, and Thailand. The restaurant takes over the entire 50th floor of The Pullman, so they've got that 360-degree view (although some of it is obscured by private rooms). And what a view. From the Dapu Lu location, you can see all the way to Jing'an when it's clear out. (There's so much to see in Jing'an!)
The menu starts with truffle eggs, escargot, foie gras, scallops, and carpaccio with lobster mouse and moves onto salad, soups, some seafood, steaks, and pastas with fusion elements of the aforementioned Asian flavors. Somewhere along the line, seasonal flowers find their way into a few of the dishes to keep with the theme. You'll find more flowers in the cocktail menu, which offers a few original and unique creations. The drinks menu also has a long list of single malt whiskies, a short list of beer, some cider, and cognac. Then there's a separate wine list with 60 New World and Old World wines. Dinner will run 400rmb to 500rmb per person without drinks. Cocktails are 77rmb to 87rmb.
First Impressions: The selection of dishes we tried were quite good, especially the appetizers. Also receiving high marks are the cocktails, both for presentation and taste. They seem to be doing a lot here, maybe too much, and they'll need to work to keep up the quality on each aspect. The decor is a bit old -- the floor hasn't been remodeled in some years -- and it doesn't really match the prices, but that's not so important because the view does.
Quick Take: The latest resident of a storied Shanghai venue -- the old Park 97. A romantic Mediterranean outpost in Fuxing Park.
What it is: It's the new Mediterranean restaurant in the old Park 97 in Fuxing Park. Remember Fuxing Park? It was a pretty big nightlife destination back in the day. Guandii... Rich Baby... and Park 97, which was where the Formula 1 drivers used to hang out way back when, I think? Then it was taken over by the Muse Group -- Muse Park 97. And now it's Rose Garden, a pretty fancy, mid-to-high-end Mediterranean restaurant with a menu by Chef Niven, formerly of Mesa & Manifesto -- another name from back in the day -- and Husk. Food is along those Husk and Mesa lines. Straightforward eats. Wagyu steaks, scallops, chops and charcuterie plates. A set of soup and salad starters and a set of bistro-y mains: Herb Chicken, Canadian Lobster, Salmon Steak, Lobster Risotto, and the obligatory Australian Wagyu Grain-Fed red meat entries. Cocktails as well. Big cocktails list of classics and house mixes, including a Kale Tini, using "Kale Infused Havana Rum".
Right? You're welcome!
Price points tilt upwards to like 350rmb to 400rmb per person for dinner.
First Impressions: It feels very much a throwback. The old Park 97. I was expecting Michael Schumacher to walk in with DJ Sasha and head to the bar for some Moscow Mules -- priced at 40rmb, 2005 style. The menu too feels very familiar, this hearty Mesa / Husk steak-and-herb-chicken Mediterranean menu, with a big list of cocktails on the side. But turned up a notch. The space is as nice and lovely as it always was, hidden away in Fuxing Park. It's a bit of a splurge. The prices might keep the casual expats away but they're going for a more mature, moneyed crowd anyways.
It's 2016, we're all supposed to be loaded by now, right?
A small Thai eatery adjacent Fennel Lounge
newly popular with the nearby white collars. This is the third entry in Thai Full's set -- this time coming with an interesting location choice.
What it is: Not its first foray into the highly competitive Thai restaurants business, Thai Full's previous installments are both located in big, bright shopping malls. Their latest outlet is now open on a hardly noticeable street corner and offers a snug, jolly, almost homely atmosphere. it's casual, affordable, and authentic, with a few tables outside, and simple seating within. On the Chinese-language internets, the venue's become real popular for people working in the area looking for a lunch option. They do classic Thai dishes -- tom yum gong, prawn cakes, papaya salad, also a handful of curries, rice, and noodles. Their main thing is Chiang Mai chicken rice, available as lunch set (48rmb) and a 1/4 chicken (58rmb). We like their tom yum gong and their curries which boast rich and hearty flavors and quality ingredients. And fair prices. Beer, including Singha and Chang, soft drinks, and Thai milk tea are priced at 18rmb to 38rmb.
First Impressions: Apparently, none of Thai Full's staff are from Thailand, but that just makes them even more impressive. On weekdays, ordering a lunch set takes time; even an hour wait. But at night it's a nice place to take a friend or two, in a convenient part of Jing'an, to have a filling and warm Thai meal for under one hundred per person -- as long as they're looking for authentic flavors rather than a fancy environment. The staff is friendly enough too, and they have bottomless tea and chicken rice.