The complex behind More Than Eat has been slowly opening for about two months now, which means they've run out our patience. So we went down and did as much of it as we could in one boozy, hazy night. At the moment, there are roughly nine venues down there, in various stages of preparedness, with at least two more incoming in the near future.
General impression: it's all a little rough around the edges. It feels like they've had to wedge restaurants and bars into spaces designed to be offices or storage space, but sure! Let's see what they've got.
Quick Take: A Chinese microbrewer's not-very-micro brewpub
What It Is: A two-story brewpub from a recently established Chinese microbrewery called Dream Brewers. It's mostly a spacious concrete box with an austere modern look and a well-stocked, four-meter tall "automatic beer dispenser" looming over the proceedings. Their righteous rooftop includes what looks like a BBQ station, though it'll be another four-five months before we get any serious use out of any of that space.
Photo courtesy of Dream Brewers from a day when it wasn't raining so hard
The beer menu's currently a 24-long list of beers, ten from Dream Brewers (40-48rmb for 330ml) and fourteen from mostly American breweries I've never heard of (58-98rmb 330ml). The robot beer fridge unfortunately doesn't just spew out beer, but it stocks a mix of wines, ciders and even some mead (at 400rmb for a bottle, Odin is displeased), which a mechanical arm will collect like a pallet in the IKEA warehouse. The food menu is brewpub fare: burger, steaks, skewers, some assorted appetizers.
First Impressions: Every complex needs a brewpub! While the food was all right, the beers stood out as eminently drinkable. Wait, let me explain. For many, many people, including some who can't admit it for fear of mockery, not me, beer sucks. Instead of a crisp, refreshing bite, they just taste bitter plant mulch. For those people, the Osmanthus Ale tastes more of the former than the latter, as does the Passionfruit IPA and the Toffee Tripel. I'd say it's an excellent place to bring people who think they don't like beer, and they serve Old Driver IPA to appease their savvier chaperone.
Stiff competition in the area, what with Dr. Beer and World of Beer around the corner, but Dream Brewers is welcome to join in.
Quick Take: #instagram #instagram #instagram #instagram #instagram
What It Is: A fluorescent, postmodern speakeasy club-lounge, with a gleefully stupid baggage carousel entrance, gibberish neon lighting and a bevy of #wtf photogenic cocktails. There's one in a little bathtub that pours itself from a motorized showerhead. The Troublesome Girl is basically an ice-cream float. With the exception of the Sailor Moon (basically a strawberry smoothie with a 60ml shot of tequila), most won't do much for you, and they're absurdly priced. All that whipped cream, ice-cream and the little bathtub batteries don't pay for themselves. We do. Thankfully, the surprisingly decent classic cocktails clock in at a mere 88rmb. And the trap soundtrack's for free!
First Impressions: I want to be wanghong. I want a trolleycase of outfits and a ringlight. I want to drop the gold standard and adopt a strict "RMB to likes" currency exchange policy. I want to scrutinize venues with the cold gaze of a seasoned artillery spotter.
What I'm saying is that Twinkle Bar looks stunning, fabulous, I'm living it, yasssss. Or at least, it does on your Instagram feed, which is the only place anything matters, and that's the only thing about Twinkle Bar that matters. Either I'm deeply in love with it or social media Stockholm Syndrome is finally kicking in.
Quick Take: Decent ground-floor cafe/wine bar with a hit-and-miss food menu.
What It Is: A compact, woody and atmospheric coffeeshop and wine bar with a nice terrace space. Cozy! Short of the massive Freitag shop next door, this one's the only one liable to get any reliable foot traffic of the street. Being right behind Lost Bakery doesn't help it much. The concerns are your regular mix of hip tattooed coffeebro youngsters, and the atmosphere's laid back. Nice glass-encased spaces, just for wine.
First Impressions: Yeah, seems all right! The rustic, upscale coffeeshop stylings and ground-floor spot are strengths. Definite hints of RAC here, and it's not just the galette and multi-colored menu cards. The food was a little hit and miss; I thought the buckwheat galette with bacon was lovely, if a little dry, but I regretted airily ordering the bone marrow. What was I thinking. Who the fuck eats bone marrow. Anyway, this is the "work place with decent food" kind of cafe rather than the "actually a restaurant but we call it a cafe" kind of cafe.
Have the galette. Galette is good. Do more galette, Shanghai.
Mirai Waki is four-private rooms (one with a sprinkling of that UV magic), and a short counter tucked around the back of the complex. They're serving up omakase for 680/980rmb.
Modern Asian at the not-yet-open FULU.
Chez Louis does international/Mediterranean fine-dining in a pastel environment on the second floor.
There's a two-in-one at Bistro Bonbon, where a shelf packed with a bunch of instant noodles comprises Ramen Boy.
La Festa serves up broadly fusion cuisine (tacos, sashimi, Italian cured meats and pasta) served on those little black stone plates, plus dog-shaped ice-creams.
Valpasso is a red prosecco lounge.