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The Brunch List: May '15

This month: Parisian tea time at Angelina, fancy fusion and cronuts at Light & Salt, New Zealand breakfast at Fix and all-you-can-drink at La Bota.
By May 5, 2015 Dining
Weather's getting warm -- now's the time when people start doing marathon-style weekend brunches that last hours on end. Here are some options in the city that also offer up good spots in the sunshine: Parisian tea time at Angelina, fancy fusion and cronuts at Light & Salt, New Zealand all-day breakfasts at Fix and all-you-can-drink at La Bota.


Good for: Loading on French carbs

The word "institution" is thrown around entirely too much when talking about restaurants, but in the case of Angelina, it's probably appropriate. Its story begins 1903 in Paris. That's at the height of the Belle Époque if you're an optimist, or Fin de siecle if you're a pessimist. Either way, for over a century now, the place has been renowned for its pastries like macarons, eclairs, and their signature Mont-Blanc, a meringue topped with spaghetti-like strands of chestnut cream. It has all the calories and French cachet that emerging markets seem to be devouring with abandon, which is why they've now got Angelina Tearooms in Doha, Dubai, Beijing, and most recently Shanghai in the Portman Ritz-Carlton.

Angelina offers a brunch set that goes for 238rmb a person. That may seem like a steep price tag, but hey, it's the Ritz. And besides, you walk out full of enough carbs to keep your engine running until the following day. It starts with a selection of some pretty tasty viennoiseries, like pain au chocolate and warm, buttery croissants with fruit preserves. That's followed by a main course of potatoes dauphanois, some unremarkable scrambled eggs, and a choice of bacon or smoked Norwegian salmon along with a simple green salad. Finally, to finish it off, you can choose between a fruit salad or pain perdu (that's French for "French toast"). Oddly, they garnish it with radish slices and micro greens, even though it's sweet. Still, it's a pretty decent dish.

This price includes a glass of juice and a choice of coffee, tea, or Angelina's signature hot chocolate. Throw in an extra 130rmb if you want a glass of Duval Leroy Champagne.

Daily: 7am-3pm
For a full brunch listing, click here.

Light & Salt

Good for: fancy fusion on the Bund; cronuts

Light & Salt, that hybrid book boutique and high-end fusion food spot in the Rockbund building, has re-outfitted its former brunch offering into a straightforward a la carte menu divided into sections of small plates, big plates, burgers, eggs, sides and sweets.

Small plates are where Light & Salt's fusion flavors feature most strongly. These range from 48 to 78rmb each, and though pricy for the amount of food you get, they are some of the highlights of the menu. The wasabi-soy marinated kingfish sashimi with jalapeno, sliced almonds and cilantro atop a bed of fried sticky rice cakes (68rmb for three bites) has a lot of "wow" factor, as does the pork belly salad tossed with crispy tofu, grapefruit and lemon vinaigrette (58rmb). The egg-based dishes are more on the traditional side, including shakshuka, eggs baked with tomato sauce, chorizo and Iberian ham (98rmb) and lobster eggs Benedict, poached eggs with grilled asparagus and champagne-infused hollandaise on corn muffin beds (158rmb).

Order eggs if you must, but the roasted cod on miso rice (118rmb) and breakfast burger with foie gras, smashed avocado, bacon and cheddar (128rmb) are likely to be far more satisfying. Light & Salt is also doing a version of the cronut -- with peanut butter and fresh berries (58rmb) -- whose froufrou presentation with fresh flowers belies its rich taste and texture. For those who don't know, a cronut is what happens when a donut and a croissant love each other very much. Again, price is steep, but if you're going to Light & Salt, then might as well go all the way.

Sat & Sun: noon-4pm
For a full brunch listing, click here.


Good for: Late-risers; New Zealand eats, meats

The menu at Fix makes it pretty clear what kind of fare's on offer here: N.Z. green lipped mussels, N.Z. pacific oysters, N.Z. beef cottage pie, Hubbards New Zealand muesli, burgers made from "100% grass-fed beef" from New Zealand. And, major plus: the cafe -- located in The Loft on Jiashan Lu -- does all-day breakfast too. There are a few bagel sandwiches (38-68rmb), and you can mix and match from traditional hot dishes like sunny side up eggs on toast (38rmb), a side of tomatoes (10rmb), lightly sauteed mushrooms (15rmb), baked beans (20rmb), a grilled Spanish sausage of pleasing girth (15rmb) or Manuka honey-glazed smoked bacon (20rmb). If you've got a healthy appetite, then a platter of all of the above for 98rmb probably makes the most sense.

On the lighter side, Fix has that imported muesli with milk or yogurt for 32rmb. You can choose a topping of fresh bananas, peaches, or strawberries for an extra 10-15rmb each. Again, it's not a great deal if you order these separately, so the option to get all of them together at 55rmb is much better. So is it any good? The quality of many of the ingredients is clearly a notch above those used at similar Western cafes -- the cheeses, the bacon, the eggs, the sausages are all excellent, but at times the execution seems off. The baked beans tasted good, but probably would have been great if they hadn't arrived at can temperature. The cottage pie is also tasty, save for a few pieces of steak that took far more jaw power to grind down than they should have. Fortunately there are just a few pieces of those -- most of the beef in there is minced. Aside from a couple of hiccups, though, the portions are huge and the breakfast food nicely satisfying.

Daily: 8.30am-midnight
For a full brunch listing, click here.

La Bota

Good for: Al Fresco Sangria Benders

Spanish tapas and wine bar La Bota draws quite a crowd for its weekend brunch, and judging from our experience, it must be because of the all-you-can-drink sangria and wine deal, because it certainly isn't the food or the service. Servers hardly take notice of arriving guests. We seated ourselves. No one gave us a menu, so we had find one ourselves.

Servers provide scant information about what exactly the brunch deal entails. We'll fill you in. 88rmb gets you a pan of seafood paella. It comes in squid ink black or saffron yellow. Neither one is great, but at 88rmb, perhaps it's a fair price. Nevertheless, you're going to wait -- perhaps 30 minutes or longer for it. That's no fault of La Bota's; paella takes a long time to cook. This is where the all-you-can-drink deal comes in handy. Pay 100rmb extra, sling back a few drinks, enjoy the sunshine, maybe order some at-best-average tapas, like their white anchovies or their piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna, or maybe a pizza from next door (they co-opted neighboring pizzeria Nolita) to tide you over. Eventually you'll get a buzz, have a few laughs, and hopefully you'll forget to ask why your food is taking so long.

Sat & Sun: noon–4pm
For a full brunch listing, click here.



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