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The Brunch List: October '15

This month, we check out The Puli, POP, Tribeca, and BEERGRDN...
Last updated: 2015-11-09


Good For: Ummm…Beer?

The space on the first floor of the URBN Hotel has undergone several incarnations. The latest exudes all the grace and subtlety of a Tokyo video arcade. The walls are frenetically spattered with a pastiche of cartoons, comic book heroes, and other pop culture touchstones. And then there is the clear plastic oxygen tent that seals the garden outside off from the elements. It's an overreach at whimsy that's jarringly inconsistent with the look and feel of the rest of the hotel.

Erstwhile Shanghai dining icon David Laris developed the menu here. It's a generous selection of brunch standards suffused with Aussie and American sensibilities. You've got your farmer's omelet with onions, mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar for 58rmb. Their Benedict goes for 75rmb, or 78rmb if you want cured salmon. They're on the avocado toast bandwagon, too. 75rmb gets you wheat toast with highly oxidized avocado mash, a couple slices of back bacon, and an egg -- pretty unremarkable. House specialties bear the mark of a line drawing of a hamburger. These are dishes like chicken and waffles (pictured), which are good but not great. 65rmb gets a few fried up crispy bits with a quartered waffle and a ramekin of maple flavored syrup.

All of the above and more are available a la carte or as part of sets. There is the "Classic Set", which includes a main, a beverage, and a piece of the "cake of the day" for 128rmb. They offer a "Hangover Set" which gets you a main with choice of bloody Mary or a screwdriver for 128rmb and then a 50% discount on all subsequent bloodies or screwdrivers. Or for 148rmb you can get the "Hunger Pangs" set: a beverage, starter, and a main.

- Justin Fischer

Sat–Sun: 11.30am-4pm
Full brunch listing



Good For: Extremely frilly Bloody Mary's

There are still some growing pains at this new diner in Jing’an but overall the food was surprisingly good, given modest prices and the slightly bumbling service. The owner is French, the chef is Chinese, the manager is Filipino and the menu is a mix of American, Italian and French peasant food, featuring a brunch of eggs benedict, poached eggs with mushrooms, a vegetarian omelet, or organic scrambled eggs with salmon (all 58rmb).

The omelet arrived on a slate plate with a mound of salad, gooey inside and stuffed with seasonal vegetables. Decent, but nothing to get too excited about -- the baby spinach salad far outshined this number. Served with shaved San Daniele ham and an egg rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, the bitter spinach leaves, salty ham and crunchy breadcrumbs came together beautifully. We almost ordered a second for the table, it was that good.

TriBeCa lost some points for service speed, though. It took 15 minutes for the staff to put together a bloody mary, which arrived looking extremely ornate -- with a shrimp and two olives as a garnish – but lacking the requisite kick. To be fair, when we asked for a bit more vodka, the waiter happily obliged.

Overall, a nice addition to the neighborhood, with prices not that much higher than Munchies, next door.

- Nick Taylor

Sat and Sun: 11am-5pm
Full brunch listing


POP American Brasserie

Good for: Perfect views and a buzzing atmosphere

Pop has done great things with the space that used to be New Heights, and on a sunny day, with the terrace buzzing with diners, looking out over the river and the Bund, you really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Brunch is served at 208rmb for two courses, or 258rmb for three. Portions are huge and the service is attentive, professional but full of smiles.

Appetizers run from smoked salmon and poached eggs to a chilled tomato and cucumber gazpacho with crab salad, to shellfish bisque. The salmon and poached eggs came slathered with Hollandaise on a toasted English muffin, and was large enough to have passed for an entrée at many Shanghai establishments. Main courses are also filled with variety: from an English fry-up, to grilled salmon gnocchi, to poached cod served in a seafood broth.

The French toast arrived topped with fried onions, accompanied by a whole roasted apple, a flute of spiced French fries, a salad and a sausage. The mix of fried carbs, grilled meat and baked fruit, washed down with draft beer was exactly the sort of all-in combination of sugar and stodge that a body needs on so many Sunday mornings in Shanghai. Desserts are also packed with fuel, with a choice of bread pudding, banana pancakes, Belgian waffles or a banana split.

Despite the place being full to capacity, the wait staff had their service nailed down. When a first bloody mary took a while to arrive, the manager came over with a free round of beers. We hadn’t complained, but he was clearly eager for us to have a good time. In that respect, mission accomplished.

- N.T.

Sat & Sunday: 10am-2pm
Full brunch listing


Jing'an Restaurant @ The Puli

Good For: Quality

There are in fact pockets of style and class left in this city. The Puli Hotel is one of them, and the Sunday brunch at their Jing’an Restaurant is one of the classiest meals in town. This is where the grown-ups with good taste enjoy their weekends.

The 398rmb (plus surcharge) menu includes an entrée, a dessert and drinks (tack on free-flow Champagne for an extra 250rmb), but the highlight is undoubtedly the huge spread in the middle of the dining room.

You could fill up just on this and leave happy. The main section is a orgasmaganza of tasty bits: thin, cascading cuts of jamon Iberico; plates of crumbly, aged, farm-style cheddar; rich house-made pates; long tranches of some of the best focaccia we’ve had in China. The fresh seafood bar is filled with stores of items like crab legs, oysters and razor clams. It’s everything all the other Sunday brunches offer, served with obvious, overwhelming quality and a hell of a lot more refinement.

The entrees seem a bit more uneven. On our visit, our bao of roasted pork belly with kimchi was limp, and the single pancake with banana and ricotta was a bit, well…flat without the syrup. But the mini burger with thick-cut fries and the risotto with braised oxtail that arrived at the table next to us looked spot on.

Dessert makes up for any missteps. Options include an icy coconut with sago, ginger and sesame, and a peanut butter parfait -- both good. If you’re still not full, the main spread offers dessert options like fluffy squares of handmade marshmallows and buttery pastries. Be sure to book ahead. It’s packed every weekend and this is not the type of place where you can just "pull another chair over".

- Geoff Ng

Sunday: 11.30am–2.30pm
Full brunch listing


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