Danish cuisine. It's like a thing these days. For this month's Brunch List, we're checked out two Danish things around town. And then a third non-Danish place from around the way. (We needed three.)
Good for: A cost-effective, well-constructed Euro brunch with lots of add-ons
Available: Saturday and Sunday, 11am-5pm
Price: "Chef's Table" special is three courses with three sharing mains for 150rmb per person. Side option include adding in more meaty dishes for 80rmb, and a concurrent a la carte menu with more egg dishes and lunchier possibilities in around the 75rmb range.
With Mr. Willis, La Strada, Henkes, and not to mention Wagas, Aussie chef and restaurateur Craig Willis is king of the restaurants these days in Shanghai, but his Nordic-style entry Pelikan with Executive Chef Kasper Pedersen seems to be the one I hear a lot about. Their brunch in particular is the subject of a pretty glowing review on SmSh:
"Going to Pelikan feels like getting a back rub and being told everything is going to be alright, while eating dope, fresh, clean food that transports you out of the Shanghai chaos you may (and I definitely) need the occasional escape from."
Dude is not entirely wrong. They've recently streamlined the main "Chef's Table" brunch so it's 150rmb per person with separate starter courses -- yogurt and croissants...
...and three sharing mains: mushroom omelet with Parmesan cheese; smooth potato cream with bacon and fried egg; and grilled kale with thinly sliced pointy cabbage and horseradish dressing. They put those three dishes in front of you and you share with your party.
That's all rounded out with a creamy apple crumble desert. If you want to up the ante, they've got optional dishes as well: pork and smokey bacon at 80rmb and cold cuts and cheese for the same price. I split this with another guy and we didn't need the extras, but the bacon one was tempting. The bacon here is real good.
Pelikan is great for the whole package: it's a nice environment for day dining, service is great, and the food is simple, fresh, healthy-seeming, and well-executed. For 150rmb as well, there's not a lot to complain about. Another bonus: they go late to 5pm so they're there for you when you need it. You know who you are, wastoids!
Good for: Big-plated indulgences in a clean and relaxing environment
Available: Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm
Price: Three available brunch combos -- a "Maneater" meat-anchored number for 108rmb; a leafier health-conscious "Green Leap Forward" for the same price, and the main event, the "Friendlymess for Two" sharing brunch which is everything for 199rmb. A la carte sandwich and egg options around the 50rmb range. Free-flow Prosecco tap-in for 128rmb per person for two hours.
Not one for half-assed measures, we (the royal "we") optioned for the gargantuan "Friendlymess for Two". This is the Friendly Mess. It's definitely friendly -- oh hai guy! -- but I don't know if it's a mess. Pretty photogenic.
Let's switch to aerial view so you can see what's going on. Homemade egg muffin, baby sausages, classic croque madam, cold cuts, French toast with maple syrup, yogurt parfait with raspberry and granola, sourdough bread, with slices cheese, and chocolate spread, seasonal fruit, plus a free coffee or tea. Damn. Rounded out with two juice shots.
In the X-Files, whenever it cuts to the Cigarette Smoking Man delivering news to some unnamed head of a shadowy secret government Dutch guy in some castle in Europe, he is invariable eating something that looks like this. Squelching baby tomatoes in his mouth while his grand kids play in the grassy lawn beyond the bay windows innocently unaware of the pure evil that men do. They're talking about how Agent Mulder must be made to think he is succeeding when in fact he is playing right into the secret cabal's hands! Squelch!
What I'm trying to say is that this is a fantastic plate of food fit for one evil Dutch head of a secret government or two people with exquisite taste in Danish-ey brunches and a good deal. This is only 199rmb, including tea and / or coffee. Great coffee too. From Sumerian. Dining environment is cafe-style with some Swedish air filter company cleaning up your air for you. Clean. Crisp. Scando. It's pretty laid-back and no pressure. Location is near the Bund, so it's a bit of a trip for most but I'd say this plate of food is worth it. 200 kuai, man, for all that. All the same, EQ is opening two more outlets in Shanghai in the near future and also hosting this brunch so it should be coming to you soon.
Note: Currently, this brunch is only available at the EQ (Huangpu) location.
Good for: A healthy-ish meal in a hip and cheerful environment
Available: Daily, 10.30am-9pm
Price: 78rmb and 118rmb
Two Taiwanese sisters, whose surnames are Huang ("yellow" in English), brought the healthy and photogenic food trend to Fumin Lu about a year ago, brightening up a small space alongside the street. They've picked the right shade of yellow -- it's hospitable, creative-looking, and creates a nice, casualness that runs through the decor and tableware. On a regular weekend, the place is packed with trendy locals, hanging out with their friends and animal friends, chatting cheerfully. The warm and busy atmosphere attracts passersby to stop in for a look.
For a small cafe they have a quite extensive menu with "mostly veggie" seeming like the main idea behind it. Yellow Box offers salad, sandwich, rice, and pasta made with fresh and healthy ingredients (think Nosh and D'lish). Along with abundant soft drinks and four beer and wine options.
Yellow Box has two all-day brunches: poached eggs with avocado spread, and steak with potato waffle. You might want to go for the former, as the steak wasn't really well cooked on our visit, and potato waffle was over salted. However, the optimism vibe from their service and environment canceled out the overall generic food execution. And the prices were fine.
Still, a nice place to enjoy a "mostly veggie" meal with your friends...