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The Brunch List: August '15

This month in brunch...the new brunch at Mr&Mrs Bund, hit and miss Italian at Bacco, fueling up before a shopping at iAPM, and authentic Italian with a smile.
Last updated: 2015-11-09

Mr & Mrs Bund

Good for: Are you kidding? It's Mr & Mrs Bund.

We end up wasting a lot Sunday afternoons sitting through half-assed brunches for you guys, which is why going Mr & Mrs Bund's brand new brunch was a treat. This is the biggest addition to the restaurant since the Modern French Eatery by Paul Pairet shut down for three months for a remodel.

As expected, the menu is huge -- almost too much to think about, especially when you're emerging bleary-eyed from the other side of a late night (which we were). While you're figuring out what to eat, you can munch on fresh red radishes and butter, a traditional variety of French crudités. Nice touch. Regulars will recognize a lot of core MMB classics from the dinner menu, but you're coming here for brunch; you should order as such.

Start at the top left corner with a couple of the egg starters for 75rmb a piece. Here eggs get classic brunch treatments like the "Benedicte" (poached on a bun with Prosciutto and Paris White ham, and Béarnaise sauce). Others are for the more adventurous, like a poached egg served with braised tomatoes, capers, piquillo peppers and stewed tripe. Try it. Live a little.

If you're with a large group, you'll need a few selections from the Appetizers section, too. For a 100rmb you can order a Quiche Lorraine with a crunchy tartlet, pancetta and leeks as well as Pairet signatures like the Arugula Mushroom Truffle salad or the Smoked Salmon Essential.

Mains cover a wide gamut, with "Solitaires" starting at 130rmb a plate. These are MMB classics, like the Picnic Chicken Aioli, the Croque Mrs. Bund from the lunch menu, as well as a thick, chunky hand cut beef tartare with French fried potato cubes and broad-leafed Japanese arugula -- recommended. Scanning down to the Meat section (180rmb), you'll see newcomers like Le Beau Chicken Vol-Au-Vent. It comes to the table in two parts, a ring of crispy, golden brown puff pastry, and a saucepan of chicken and foie in a rich soup. The server combines the two, tableside to sexy results.

If none of that fills you up, throw in some sides, like the Western-Asian Congee, a crossover of fragrant, buttery jasmine rice with crunchy bits of fried garlic, shallots, and ginger. Failing that, there is always dessert. You can go for something familiar, like Pairet's famous Lemon Lemon Tart, a slice of French Toast MMB-style, or a butterscotch fondant.


Sat–Sun: 11.30am–2pm
For a full brunch listing click here.

Bang by Mr. Willis

Good For: Fueling up before a shopping spree

Bang by Mr. Willis in IAPM, by contrast to the above, has a menu that fits on one page. And nearly a fifth of it is cocktails. They're brunch standards, like the Bloody Mary or a Bellini with mint and berries. We tried the Bloody; as per usual, it wasn't nearly spicy enough. But that's pretty typical in this town.

They offer three different omelets, each served in a small, no-stick skillet and priced at 78rmb. We like the asparagus, zucchini, and green pea omelet for its fresh summer flavors and the gooey, heaping chunk of ripe brie that they plop down in the middle of it.

For something a little less conventional, they offer shakshouka, a North African dish of simmered tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions topped with eggs. It's a fair effort, but could benefit from heavier hand with cumin and a couple spoonfuls of harissa. We've seen only one other place in town that does this dish: Ginger by the Park, and theirs is superior.

Then there is a breakfast pizza. We didn’t try this, but, as La Strada has proven, Executive Chef Craig Willis makes fine pizzas. We assume that topping one of them spinach, egg, pancetta, tomato, and mozzarella would only make one of them better. This one goes for 95rmb.

Ultimately it's a fine place to while away an hour or so on the weekend. When the weather is nice, the outdoor terrace will tally points in Bang's favor, too. And once you're full, you can go blow the remainder of your money on a Gucci bag or a new iPhone.

Sat–Sun: 11.30am–2pm
For a full brunch listing click here.

Dr. Fab

Good for: Authentic Italian with a smile

Dr. Fab’s a little Italian place opened by the owner of Il Nascondiglio, a public dining room in a lane house on the southern stretch of Xiangyang Lu. The location used to be a strange but quite homely Tibetan bar, just up the street from Sinan Mansions. For a moment, it was due to be taken over by Amay from Bell, but then she opened her second place on Fumin and this dim, cozy storefront became Dr Fab.

The good doctor is filled with dark wood and candles, topped by a low ceiling and lit mainly by the sunlight that pours in through the glass looking out on a leafy stretch of Sinan Lu. The brunch menu is 150rmb for two courses and a glass of wine. Everything’s very simple but authentic. The menu is hand-written with four or five options for each course, and the service is warm and as genuine as the dishes: porchetta ham; cold cuts; mixed fish, and scallops gratin to start, with pasta or fish to follow. The mixed fish appetizer was a well-presented trio of squid with polenta, a savory spread of salted cod called baccala mantecato, and shrimp wrapped in Italian bacon. The cod outshone the rest by a mile -- I’d have gladly eaten a bowlful to myself. A main course of calamarata pasta with pesto, cherry tomatoes and more shrimps rolled in bacon was perfectly cooked, using fresh pasta.

OK, not supremely adventurous, but then it wasn’t setting out to be. The warm service and genuine atmosphere was the real delight, though I’d certainly go back and see what they put on the brunch menu another weekend.

Alter Cube

Good for: Fashionable grazing among garments

el Willy’s group has designed a menu of Spanish tapas for the newly enlarged Alter store in south Xintiandi. The women’s fashion boutique has been a staple of Shanghai’s best dressed girls for the past five years, stocking imported, alternative labels with hefty price tags such as Opening Ceremony and Helmut Lang, but this is the first time they’ve given any retail space over to F&B. Most of the seating is outdoors, but there’s a bar and a couple of tables inside, which is currently the only sane option, given the heat.

The menu has five cold, five hot, and five sweet options, plus half a dozen cocktails and four wines by the glass. Salmon tartar (58rmb) was the highlight -- served in savory cones and dressed up to look like ice cream, with lots of citrus flavor from a squeeze of fresh passion fruit. Pizzaladillas with pata negra (78rmb) was more rudimentary -- crackers with Iberico ham and some melted cheese -- the sort of thing you could probably whip up with what’s left in your fridge. Portions were small across the board. The chili con carne (68rmb) was truly weeny, but sweetened nicely with chunks of carrot and sweet raw onion, though the Moroccan pitas with spicy vegetables (58rmb) leant a little too heavily on chic peas -- always a bland addition to a sandwich.

The music in the boutique is excellent -- contemporary, floaty, unobtrusive. The service, however, comes without a smile -- that fashion boutique surliness that seems to be de rigueur anywhere the price tags exceed the monthly wages of the staff. The manager was much more friendly when called in to create an off-menu bloody mary. Overall, the food was better than one might expect from a kitchen in a clothes shop. The portions were all a little small and dainty, but that will be a good fit for the small, dainty ladies who shop here.



Click here for SmartShanghai's full list of brunch deals in Shanghai.