The return of Shake, a great new cocktails dive in Jing'an, an emphatic burger recommendation, and a new Turkish spot in the center of town. Roll on with this week's new restaurants!
Shake is back! After officially announcing their closure, Shanghai's favorite dinner-plus-live Soul music venue beat the odds and remerged back on the scene over the Golden Week holidays. They've got a new look and a new menu, and a currently open for business.
Firstly, the big renovations are: new stage, new seating, new soundproofing, new lighting, bigger kitchen, some touch ups and additions here and there, and, overall, a new sort of vibe. With the booths, lighting, and the stage, it's a lot clubbier in a 1960s lounge kind of direction. Feels more nightlife. Like Rat Pack kind of nightlife. The new stage backdrop really gives it a neat, mod-ish, 1960s sort of chic. Kind of looks like the set of a late night talk show. But a cool one. Dean Martin's maybe?
Drinks are the same with a few new additions from the barman Colin, who is keeping the emphasis on cocktails that facilitate and compliment dancing. With the new partnership with Light & Salt, the menu is getting a bit of an overhaul, with the Shake classic dishes from chef Danyi Gao being served along with a selection of the popular items from Light & Salt. Expect more involved pan-Asian fusion delights coming out of a much expanded kitchen space. Food-wise, they've discontinued brunch and are concentrating on dinner service, hoping to become more of a dining destination -- guests come for a meal and then stay for the show.
So yeah: Shake is back. Go for dinner and stay for dancing and drinks. Live music from their house musicians runs the gamut from modern R&B and pop to classic Motown and Soul. It's just a really fun night out. Call ahead for table reservations. It's a popular one, particularily on the weekends.
POST NO BILLS
Now open in the center of the Jing'an universe on Wuding Lu is new cocktails dive bar Post No Bills. Their main specialty: Music that is not shit.
(Well, in our super humble opinion of course.)
But yeah said playlist runs the gamut from punk rock a la The Stooges to Britpop to '90s hip hop to guilty classics.
***cough cough Counting Crows cough cough***
Not too many places in Shanghai rocking this vibe -- it's very much an "nnn ttst, nnn tsst, nnn tsst" kind of city isn't it? -- so you should go down there and give them all your love and money. Decor is like pop culture damaged street art. Lots of Bill Murray stencils, '80s-ish graphics, and a huge set of Alice Cooper eyes staring down at you as you order cocktails. It's a fun and creative and even slightly arty. But very much divey and welcoming.
Drinks, from bartender / co-owner / Dungeons and Dragons player Ana Souza, are also very much better than what you would expect from a dive. Seasonal cocktails come with names like Welcome to the Jungle, Fresh Prince, and Schools Out for Summer, and are really refreshing and drinkable. Not too involved but really well executed. Prices are reasonable too. 78rmb-98rmb for a drink.
Our fav was School's Out for Summer, which is a rum, coconut water, and strawberry kind of thing. Really tasty. A just a little dangerous.
The food menu is also worth investing in. Bar bites are things like Mac & Cheese Bites, Loaded Fries, Buffalo Cauliflower -- stuff that help out the drinking.
Loved the loaded fries which conjured up poutine memories...
Keep an eye out for their special events -- block parties, '90s music theme nights, and of course, Halloween, which they're celebrating with an Undead Disneyland theme. But yeah, Post No Bills. Great neighborhood bar. A welcome addition indeed. Great bar to check out if you've got dive bar tastes, want to hear the music you grew up listening to, but maybe are looking for stand-out, nicer food and drinks. One can not subsist on Fireball alone, perhaps...
Building up a solid reputation in Pudong for over 10 years now, Efes Restaurant serves authentic and modern Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine to people in nice suits, splashing out for an elevated, involved, and unique-in-Shanghai dining experience. It took them a minute, but they've just opened their first Puxi expansion, bringing the same expansive menu and fair price points to a more laidback restaurant and patio venue right in the heart of the city on Huashan Lu. Efes is defiantly one to check out, especially if you're from the region and looking for authentic and well-executed flavors from home. For the rest of us, it's one to check out if you're looking for new experiences with Ottoman cuisine — lots of breads and dips, lots of gargantuan meat platters, lots of bright and tangy salads. One of Efes' signatures in their char grill, which gives the meat dishes a rich and smokey quality, not unlike Xinjiang style.
Efes Restaurant hosts a huge menu that really feels like 10 years in the making. Despite it's size, you can tell a lot of attention and effort went into the inclusion of each dish, from the opening lentil soup, dips, and the lovely complimentary unleavened bread fresh from the oven, to the Mediterranean salads, to the creamy hummus, to the Geleneksek (traditional Turkish pitas), to the massive main events. House specialties are Kebab and grill dishes, served in single plates or massive sharing portions meant for bigger tables.
Two dishes to look for: the sultan sarma — minced beef and lamb balls wrapped in bread and smothered in tomato sauce and light Turkish cheese — and the adana kebab — tender tender lamb chops with our fresh homemade yoghurt.
Lots of uniqueness on the drinks menu too. They've got knock-you-on-your-ass, super strong Turkish coffee, tea, their own house beer, and Turkish raki — anise-flavored liquor that does the trick.
Atmosphere is simple and understated and they've got a nice, comfy patio too. If you're looking for a lighter, vegetarian meal -- halal and vegan friendly as well -- they've got ample salads and dips, but this one's probably best enjoyed in groups looking to splurge on a big gargantuan sharing meal with meat platters and beer aplenty.
Damage is a couple hundred per person but trust us: you will be fed.
And hey! Check it out. They've got a soft opening deal -- 15% off the food bill. Solid!
CHAR CHAR BISTRO
Gonna start this entry off with pure controversy... new American bistro, Char Char, hands-down, has the absolute BEST classic American cheeseburgers in all of Shanghai. Anyone can challenge me to a duel (to magic the gathering or Star Trek trivia), but I'm sorry, I am correct.
The Backstory: Year ago, there was a butchery named Nicolson's Grill that converted into a small-stall restaurant inside of More than Eat. They had a counter where you could order, and like... two tables, seating for 8 or 10 people. SMALL.
This writer's office was near More than Eat at the time, and I stumbled upon this place by accident, where it immediately became a very naughty dirty secret that I never, ever told my gym trainer about. Burgers, blowing your mind. Took everyone there. Everyone converted. No disagreements: BEST BURGER IN SHANGHAI. At least not back then. The place closed. Greedy landlord issues (of course). I was gutted.
But... apparently, a lot of other people were too. Turns out fans of the restaurant approached owner Frank Lin and just couldn't live without these burgers not being in Shanghai, so his client base became investors. His burgers are the same; he's got steaks at reasonable prices, good quality, and a range of other dishes that won't disappoint.
But let's talk about the burger. The beef patty is ground to retain a significant amount of juiciness. The bun is a VERY. SOFT. Brioche bun. It's balanced. A single slice of tomato, crisp lettuce, and a creamy, delicious sauce — you'd be a fool not to ask for extra sauce because it's good. What you get is a burger that respects the flavor of the beef, that drips with juice, and is lightly decked out with veggies for texture, and a sauce that binds everything together, with a real American cheddar that is just... completely melted. Damn.
There are other must-haves on the menu, though. The sides are stellar, especially the charred cauliflower, and the cream corn is a must-order. It's what any American mother would prepare for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
IMPORTANT: Save room for dessert because this place has something you won't find anywhere else that you'll come back for in your darkest moments. Baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies. Again, not something I encourage, but order two. They are 20 kuai.
The Damage: Their classic American cheeseburger is 78rmb, compared to something similar at Beef & Liberty, which is arguably a smaller burger that clocks in at 98rmb. Sides run you 30 - 45rmb. Steaks 120rmb and up. Pastas in the 70rmb range. Everything portioned nicely and imminently reasonable.
But you gotta try that burger...