On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.
This week we're looking at four new venues around the revolving door that is the Fumin-Changle-Xinle Lu intersection: Graze, Comma, Caza, and Mosso. Nothing too earth-shattering going on here but if you live or work in the area and wondered, hey, what's up with that new place, well...
...hey, here's what's up with that new place.
What Is It:
This space used to be Xinle Cafe, which died a death a few years ago already, and then sort of lived on in zombie-mode until a massive structural renovation was undertaken for this new place. So yeah, now it's Comma, a Japanese-style hang-out serving shades of Xime. They've knocked out the front of the building and converted it into a little patio — the most important feature you can have if you've got a venue on Fumin-Changle-Xinle Lu is a patio — and it's two floors of soothing blond woods and humble but stylish Japanese flavor. There's booth and bar seating on the first floor and more communal seating upstairs.
Upstairs also has an arcade machine. It's one of those 1000-game Super Nofriendo emulator things like the ones at a certain punk bar up in Jing'an, COUGH COUGH COUGH.
They're in soft open mode now so it's just drinks, with a food menu of classic Japanese comfort food — pork cutlets, yakitori, dumplings — on the way.
Drinks. Are nice! There's a bit of neatness going on with this drinks menu. They're doing cocktails (50rmb), highballs (40rmb), and "house sake blend" (10rmb shots) on taps, and they've got a range of signature cocktails for 65rmb. We tried the "Crazy 88 Old Fashioned", which was very fine indeed, and kicked off an evening that ended with this intrepid journalist chugging beer out of a goat's horn at Inferno at 1am.
Comma: It's a nice addition to the area. It's not really breaking the wheel here, but it's a nice combination of concepts we've seen in other places executed in an inviting and friendly manner. We're rooting for them and will be back to try the food menu when it's in place later this month.
What Is It:
It's an indie cafe split into a duplex orientation, with a counter downstairs and modest seating for tiny, tiny humans on the second floor. They're calling themselves "plant-based" which means they're pet-, vegan-, environmentally-, vegetarian-, everything-friendly.
The menu is a selection of standard coffees for around 28rmb. (The "Melbourne Magic" was quite lovely); smoothies for 35rmb — fruitier concoctions, as well as more chocolate-y, cinnamon-y things. They also do pies and other treats in the 40rmb range for people who have issues with sugar, salt, gluten, things that give things flavor.
For breakfast options, they've got a "Tofu Benedict" and "Buckwheat Pancakes" in the 50rmb range.
Support for the cause. We're offering nothing but support for the cause. Seriously, with the amount of foie gras we have to ingest on a weekly basis for this job (I know, first world problems), there's no way we're not going to offer support for Graze's cause. The coffee was decent, the pie was fine (as it could be with all the fun ingredients taken away), and the smoothies were nice.
It's a little small to serve as a laptop work spot for freelancers-on-the-go — the tables and chairs are really tiny — but is adequate for an afternoon catch-up with a friend. It's not easy being green in this country. Vegans, add this one to your small list of places that are trying to help you survive in this cruel, callous world.
And also... Mosso and Caza Exist
Two prime locations are now... something else. Remember Southern Belle? On Changle Lu? That's now something called Mosso Bar and Restaurant, ostensibly an "Italian" place catering to the evil landlord market of middle-aged dudes with crew cuts and pleated Important Businessman Pants. Noodles and ketchup on the menu. They were blasting Cardi B on the radio for some reason, but also have a stage for evil landlord-core live bands. Interiors recall something that would have been on Maoming Lu about 15 years ago — lots of cheap, blinking and flashing plastic things and tiny flags.
They offered me the lunch menu to order from and then charged me with the more expensive dinner menu. Cheers. For THAT.
Remember Craft? Above The Parrot? Now it's called Caza and it's one of those nü school beer pong bars with neon beer pong tables and champagne buckets. Like someone looked at the game of beer pong and thought, hmmmm can't we make this more of an aggravating experience for people?
Drinking games in bars aren't my thing because I've got good taste in things and like to enjoy life so I'm just going to inform you that it's there and open for your beer pong needs.
It's there. And open for your beer pong needs.