Originally from the UK, first arrived in China in 1989, worked in Beijing for several years, returned to China in early 1997 to Shanghai, and back again in Shanghai since 2007 have worked on four continents and opened seven hotels in Asia for hotel groups in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, the Maldives and Malaysia.
Seve is a gem of a restaurant tucked away along Hua Shan Lu, serving consistent homestyle Italian fare.
Four hungry chaps caught up for a quick meeting over dinner, we were able to sit out on the street-side veranda of Seve this past Monday evening.
The meal consisted of the following dishes:
Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and cherry tomato salad, combined with giant Apulian black olives and asparagus, dressed with extra virgin olive oil.
Crispy eggplant, topped with cherry tomatoes, San Daniele and Buffalo mozzarella.
Octopus carpaccio served with sweet and sour vegetables, a lemon dressing and black pepper.
Traditional home-made ravioli, filled with pumpkin.
Pizza Formaggi, one of the better and consistent pizza’s I feel in town.
A dessert plate for three, that had the following classical Italian sweets to finish off the meal, with a glass of complimentary limoncello Tiramisu, Semifreddo Zabaione, Pannacotta al Caramello.
To accompany the meal, we had three bottles of wine, two Sicilian whites, and a Nero d’Avola, all these wines were of quality and at an affordable pricing structure.
Could not expect any better family style Italian food, everything from atmosphere, warm and friendly service, from the greeting by Severino, the Patron who goes around the tables giving a personal touch to the restaurant, along with Cherry who served at table, who was proactive in recommending dishes, and clearing away plates when needed, not obtrusive in any way.
The menu has a variety of options to choose from and changes with the season, no doubt you will find something of your taste, positive comments all round on the pumpkin ravioli in a white truffle sauce. Can highly recommend Seve for a casual night out, damages came to 576RMB per person.
Was in the neighbourhood of the Portman Centre, the rolling TV screen of Beef & Liberty caught my eye, so I popped in at 14h30 which was well past the regular lunchtime trade of the various F&B outlets that surround the perimeter of the complex.
Was greeted by the manager, as other employees appeared to be dining at the tables dotted around the outside edge of the restaurant, and taking their own late lunches.
Didn't fancy a meaty burger (too hot today) so gave their new beetroot burger a go, which consisted of a brown rice and kidney bean patty, topped off with a slice of beetroot, and garnished with goat’s cheese and it's well worth it, the brioche-style bun, was moist and springy, a lot to thank the French for here, I opted for the Liberty Fries, over the side salad, the Liberty Fries are crisp, full of flavour.
I also ordered the Scotch eggs, natty little Scotch eggs, the quail eggs were cooked to perfection, along with pork coating and breadcrumbs, no taste of stale oil at Beef & Liberty, the accompanying Wilkin & Sons Tomato Ketchup is a nice touch, slightly different style of ketchup.
I have eaten at Beef & Liberty a number of times over the years and can honestly say you can't fault the place for its consistency.
Damages for one 138RMB, and yes would recommend.
Over the past two weeks I have had two overseas visitors in town, one from Australia, the other from Germany, both of whom like their beers and pub grub, they had heard of the recent refurbishments undertaken by one of Shanghai’s long-standing brewpubs, Boxing Cat Brewery along Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu. Now I recall when Boxing Cat Brewery first opened back in 2008, serving artisanal beers and your staple all-American style of food, with service to match.
Sadly, other than the TKO IPA draught beers, the food on these visits to the refurbished Boxing Cat Brewery, which were exactly a week apart on damp Wednesday evenings, left a lot to be desired, in fact nowhere as good as in prior years, the service was very hit and miss, more like missing in action most of the time.
As I said the beers are decent and the TKO IPA draught from what I understand is their current top seller, so can’t go wrong there.
The food ordered with the Australian visitor
Artisan Sausage Plate: a selection of house sausages, Porter mustard, house pickles, and sauerkraut, house baguette. This was a disappointing dish, no evidence of sauerkraut, the house baguette was thinly sliced, from what appeared to be from a left-over house baguette and toasted.
The Haymaker BBQ House Smoked Ribs: With a splodge of whipped mashed potato on the side. The meat fell off the bone here, and an okay dish.
Thick cut fries: the oil in which the fries were cooked was on its last legs.
The dishes ordered with the German visitor
Artisan Sausage Plate: a selection of house sausages, Porter mustard, house pickles, and sauerkraut, house baguette. I am a terrible glutton for punishment, ordered the same dish as the previous week seeing that my guest, being a German was happy to see this on the menu, nothing changed here, again no evidence of sauerkraut, the house baguette was thinly sliced, from what again appeared to be from a left-over house baguette and toasted, not something I have seen in Bavaria when eating German sausages in Nurnberg’s famed Bratwurst houses.
Contender BBQ Ribs: Passion fruit & Pineapple BBQ sauce, this dish started to hit the right spot, but really an overabundance of topping, that consisted of a mix of diced fruits, flat leaf parsley and sesame seeds, a little too sweet.
Split Decision Fried Chicken: half a crispy chicken, with a bowl of Mac & Cheese, along with sautéed greens (aka the ubiquitous Kale) and bacon. The actual Fried Chicken itself was moist, with a crunchy batter. In my opinion though, the dish was inadequately seasoned, frankly hardly any flavour whatsoever, perhaps the kitchen did not have the combination for the secret spices of this Southern-style fried chicken dish that it should resemble. The Mac & Cheese was not bad, pretty basic, a crisp topping of cheese, sort of here’s one I made earlier and shoved under a grill.
So an overall recap from both of the dining experiences on the food, other than the Fries, Chicken, macaroni cheese dish, and kale. The dishes were mostly tepid, the oil in which the fries were cooked was on its last legs, the wonderful pungent smell of old cooking oil is not what I would expect from Boxing Cat Brewery, one can smell the oil lingering in the air, and thereafter on your clothes.
The Terrace area is dimly lit, thank heavens for Boxing Cat coasters, they help to steady a wobbly table, the cutlery is served in what looks to a tin flower pot, not an issue with that, but please offer some serviettes and not pokey little cocktail napkins, and at least offer a wet towel if you serve ribs or fried chicken, you don’t need to be running up the stairs to wash your hands every time you have a meal of ribs and southern fried chicken.
One needs to be prepared to wait for food, then the bill. Unfortunately, the food doesn’t make up for the slow or shoddy service, but what was I thinking, after all, it’s a sports bar with mediocre food. The prices are ok, with an average spend of 250RMB per person, however, there are other Brew Pubs in Shanghai with much better food, where you can actually see what you are eating, oh and service which is on the ball.
Most surprised that at 19h00 on a Wednesday evening one could not find a seat for two, other than the bar counter, which looked pretty uncomfortable to sit at, so we had to run the gauntlet through the restaurant to the outside seating area, which was also chock-a-block with early evening diners.
As the venue is a brewpub, and going by the other more established brewpubs in Shanghai, ordered Stone Brewing’s IPA Flight to start with, which seemed a good idea at the time for my regular dining partner to sample, along with a Shanghai Love Brewing Cloud Monster EIPA and Stone Ripper for myself, which we were told were Stone Brewers punters favourites, the latter two served in 150ml pours, well blow me over, the Stone Brewing’s IPA Flight was also served in 150ml sizes, not quite what we were expecting.
Prior to my date night, I went online to get some background on the venue to find out the beers on offer and the food served.
As taken from the Stone Brewing Tap Room – Shanghai Fact Sheet prior to their opening in 2018
MENU PHILOSOPHY The menu will take a contemporary twist on American Cuisine offering world-inspired options all prepared with the very finest ingredients. Stone never serves highly processed foods and is focused on sustainability and the Slow Food Movement.
I must confess the menu which is fairly extensive frankly, nothing really jumped out to make you want to order and seemed to be all fast greasy food, however, the following dishes were ordered to go along with the draught beers
Duck Confit Spring Rolls:
Crispy Rice Tuna:
The Stone Brewing California Burger:
It seems whoever compiled the menu and wrote the descriptions for the dishes was given some poetic licence to meander away from the end result and what the actual dish would be when presented to the customer.
Duck Confit Spring Rolls: was nothing more than a regular style of spring roll that you could find in any Chinese takeaway, these though were full of grease, and lacked adequate seasoning
Angry wings: Although it states Korean fried chicken wings, these were overcooked, dry and tasteless, unsure where the Korean bit comes into the dish.
Crispy Rice Tuna: Well-presented probably the best dish presentation wise, but lacked taste, needed seasoning and asked for salt and pepper which enhanced the dish.
The Stone Brewing California Burger: The menu states two ground wagyu beef patties, it was more like one very thin patty, overall the bite-sized burger was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.
The service was very hit and miss, sitting out in the backyard area, at times there was no staff on hand, and then there were three, but not paying any attention.
Explanations about the food and size of Beer Flight were not so clear, only cocktail napkins were given, no full-sized serviettes were proffered, only one very small wet wipe was offered to clean your fingers with after eating the Korean fried chicken wings.
For the food and drinks, the damages came to 400RMB for two.
I certainly would not go back, nor recommend Stone Brewing, for there are other brewpubs in Shanghai that are by far better in the food and overall ambience which they have created, Goose Island / Boxing Cat and even Liquid Laundry at a pinch spring to mind.
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, and one that has been recommended, I often, as most people would do, trawl the various online reviews, which I did when deciding to frequent Bistro Sola over the May Day break, the reviews were varied, mixed and confusing to say the least, was this the same venue.
A reservation was made for two, as my regular dining would be in attendance, an early start at 17h30, the venue is located along the very bottom end of Jiashan Lu closer to Zhaojiabang Lu.
Upon alighting from the taxi, and navigating my way through the black refuse sacks, and the electric bike should have given me cause to be concerned. Bistro Sola is spread over four floors, you enter through the service bar, up several flights of stairs, offered this floor or that floor whichever takes your fancy, even an upper floor which the waitress called the terrace (sic), more like laundry area for drying cooks clothing and storing junk, apparently the restaurant was booked solid, must of had several invisible guests because I could only count a table of six, and two tables of two seated, excluding our table of two.
Dogeared menus were offered for both and food drinks, along with plain table water by the surly waitress, who then disappeared (why do they do that) another waitress appeared took an order for two glasses of wine, I use glasses lightly, Bistro Sola is nowhere the Bund area, where venues serve thimbles of wine, on this May Holiday they do appear, not only do they serve wine in thimble amounts, they serve wines which are oxidised, corked, off, departed this world as we know it.
I was having none of this, forget about even attempting to order any food from the dog-eared misspelt menu, no matter how good the cook is supposed to be in this pseudo-Italian/ French / Japanese bistro called Bistro Sola. The waitress was called and explained that both wines were oxidised, corked, off, have it which way you want to call them, back and forth this went, and eventually I took the glasses to the downstairs service, the bar person, heaven forbid call him a barman, then started to argue with me that the wines were not corked, then agreed with me, but did not have the courtesy to waive the wines, I placed a 100Kuai note on the counter, I have not walked out of many restaurants, but left fuming on this occasion.
Bistro Sola is filthy, smelly and that just the front of the house, see the images. I can’t imagine what the back of house i.e. kitchen and fridges are like…..Gordon Ramsey would have a field day.
Restaurants are not all about the kitchen and their cooks or chefs, but front of house as well, and those that greet one, explain the style of menu and perhaps the thought behind the dishes, present the dishes on the menu, serve you a beverage, perhaps even suggest the wine, this was not the case at Heritage by Madison over the recent May Day holidays.
After walking out of a nameless restaurant earlier in the evening for poor service, waiters arguing over meagre servings of wine which was corked, my regular dining partner and I called Heritage by Madison on the off chance of being able to squeeze one in at 18h30, the reply came the restaurant is full, but we have room at the bar counter, we agreed and arrived promptly at the allotted time.
The restaurant was not full, and still had tables available, a number of those remained available throughout our stay at the bar counter, with one other sole diner being seated at the bar counter, which was unmanned for the majority of time except when asked for some additional lime to accompany the Tea Smoked Chicken dish which was exceptionally I might add, more of the dishes later.
We were served throughout the meal by Angelina, and Barry whom I knew from Frank Pecol’s former bastion, Franck of Ferguson Lane fame, or perhaps now the infamous former bastion.
The menu was offered, which really has no beginning or end in the traditional sense of a menu, we chose dishes that others had picked from various dining site app’s which were supposedly a go-to dish at Heritage by Madison, now granted they have been undergoing a “soft opening” phase since April 23.
We opted for the following dishes, and foolishly assumed that they would come in this running order.
Salted Duck Yolk Lotus Roots
Beef Tartare – snow pear, sesame, ginger, mustard
General Hu’s Cauliflower- chocolate gastrique, mint and chillies (Gastrique is caramelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar, used as a flavouring for sauces)
Tea Smoked San Huang Chicken Supreme - XO aioli, seasoned sesame salt
Crispy Pork belly -day kimchi, house-made mustard
Beef fat fries with saffron aioli
We were not offered any pre-dinner drinks, whether cocktails or wine, but was offered tap water, sorry no wine list, we had to ask and then advised that you have a choice of these two white wine by the glass, the bottles were placed in a large plastic wine bucket on the bar counter, the choice was either a French Riesling from Alsace or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, both under the house label called Terroir and imported by Sarment wines, a French wine company, cost per glass 60 RMB the same goes for their selection of Red wines by the glass, that was a Pinot Noir, from New Zealand, and a Sangiovese from Italy, both under the house label called Terroir and sold at 70RMB and 65RMB respectively again imported by Sarment wines, as were many of the full bottles of wines supplied by the same company, Sarment who is based in Shanghai, all of these Terroir labels, go for around 120RMB trade prices.
Frankly speaking, I would have asked the wine supplier to print off a temporary wine list, and a perhaps even a beverage list, even if one is still in a “Soft Opening Period” for someone has entered the data into the Restaurants Point of Sale system on pricing for both the food and drinks items, that where you get your bill from at the end of the meal after all.
So back to the dishes, as I mentioned the menu offered, had no beginning or end in the traditional sense of a menu, so we were served in the following order.
Salted Duck Yolk Lotus Roots, which were more of a bar snack, and must say rather unique and tasty.
Then came the Beef Fat Fries with saffron aioli, now I have dined at several of Austin Hu’s incarnations of Madison over the years, from Dong Ping Lu, Dong Hu Lu, and Feng Yang Lu, and his interpretation of Fat Fries, whether finished off in Beef or Duck fat has always hit the sweet spot, the saffron aioli could have had a little more kick to it, and possibly a few strands of saffron would have not gone amiss, even those from Xinjiang would have been effective.
The Beef Tartare – snow pear, sesame, ginger, mustard was served next, none of your traditional slivers of Melba toast or a baguette sliced on a slant was offered, but rather delicate hearts of butter lettuce instead. I mentioned earlier at times there is a need to explain the style of menu and perhaps the thought behind the dishes, present the dishes on the menu, none of this with this dish it was plonked down in front of you and you guessed or simply assume that you place some of the Beef tartare into the hearts of butter lettuce and munch away, this dish needs additional seasoning and an explanation I feel, a little disappointing.
Next came General Hu’s Cauliflower- chocolate gastrique, mint and chillies (Gastrique is caramelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar, used as a flavouring for sauces) so now you know if you were wondering what it was, must say this dish stood out for me, and something I would eat again.
Crispy Pork belly - day kimchi, house-made mustard, unsure what day kimchi is, this red cabbage was certainly not kimchi in the true sense, the overall dish is something that you might get in any Germanic style restaurant, Pork belly with red cabbage and mustard, the dish was tasty, lovely crisp skin, and very fatty pork belly, the mustard hit home, I enjoyed the dish, but nothing special.
Finally, the Tea Smoked San Huang Chicken Supreme - XO aioli, seasoned sesame salt, this was juicy, moist, succulent hit all the right notes, the kitchen were a little stingy with the lime, had to ask Barry the waiter for additional limes, he went behind the bar to cut and serve.
I asked to see a dessert menu, sadly nothing available, asked for the bill which came to 737RMB for two pax and paid in cash, as the restaurant does not have credit card facilities, only take cash or WeChat pay, asked for a Fapiao, that will have to be sent to you, and I am still waiting.
So, end result, would I recommend Heritage by Madison, a whole heartily yes, I will give it three stars, and bordering on four, but not quite there, as they need to get the service side sorted out, and would say they need a front of house manager to train the service flow, work with the kitchen to understand the menu and present this to the punters that dine at Heritage by Madison, the music was way too loud, it’s all the small things that count to make the overall experience of a venue, as at present it’s not quite there, I look forward to going back in the not too distant future, and seeing improvements, as Austin Hu certainly has had the staying power in Shanghai.
Having been tasked to go meat-free for a week by my regular dining partner, I was coerced into dining at Wujie just off of Hengshan Lu, whilst I have been known to undergo a detox from time to time, the food presented by way of an iPad lived up to both the images and all that I had heard about Wujie in offering innovative vegetarian dishes.
This alcohol and meat-free evening started off with some warm non-descript tea.
The following dishes were ordered:
Golden Oyster Mushrooms & King Oyster Mushrooms with Peanut and Chilli Sauce. (the flavours were delicate and not overpowering.
Panko Buttered Tofu with Wasabi Aioli. (the Wasabi could have had a little more kick to it)
Gongbao Style Chinese Mountain Yam and Maitake Mushroom balls with Asparagus and Macadamia nuts.
Lotus Root Roll stuffed with wild vegetables, house-made Tofu and Enoki mushrooms.
Seasonal Fresh mushroom platter, which was akin to deep-fried spring rolls.
All of the dishes came out fast and furious, and in no particular order, the dishes despite being mostly variations on a theme of mushrooms were unique in flavour and well presented, and actually the same as the images on the iPad, which makes a change at venues. In every dish, the cooking was confident and gutsy.
To round off a green tea tiramisu, which was a little unusual, and stuck to the roof of my mouth.
Damages for two came to 418RMB
We were fortunate to have booked a table as the place was packed, with couples dining at the venue, and appeared to enjoy the fare on offer, would certainly return with friends, and most certainly recommend, but be wary if you don’t like Tofu or variations of Fungi.
Generally, I eat fairly late in the evening, however, was briefed that vegetarian restaurants tend to open early, and curfew falls around 20h30, we had some difficulty in ordering the dessert at 20h40, and had to call a supervisor, despite this, the service staff were friendly, not overbearing and efficient, but were keen to be rid of you and switching the lights off, even the main door lights were off at 20h45.
I have always been partial to dishes from South East Asia having lived in the region for a number of years, and has been hard to find consistency in dishes from the region in Shanghai, however, am fortunate to have Ginger on my doorstep that offers some classic dishes from across the Straits that encompasses both Singapore and Borneo.
Went along for dinner with a German visitor to Shanghai and took the liberty to arrive without a reservation on a wet Sunday evening, and they were able to squeeze the two of us in, just, the place was packed at 19h00.
Having dined at Ginger over the past, took the liberty to order with the following dishes:
Chunky Tuna Tartare, Crushed Mint Peas, Anchovy Tanari soy labane.
Calamari bits, with Crispy Thai Basil accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce.
Spicy Australian Beef Curry, Potato, Cashew Nut, Coconut, Chutney and Pickles (unsure why one would state that the beef is Australian when making a curry).
Moroccan Chicken Tagine, Coriander preserved Lemon & Cumin served with Couscous.
All the dishes came out in the correct service order, i.e. starters first, followed by the mains, each of the dishes was flavoursome, right amount of spice, seasoning and one could taste the individual elements of the dishes, only gripe was that for the Chicken dish, a whole leg was served, and difficult to cut through the sinew, with the rather blunt table knife.
My only complaint would be the selection of wines by the glass. It was either a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or an Argentinean Chardonnay, and the measures for the price somewhat on the short side, and the young lad pouring the wine was measuring the size with a stick, which wasn’t a yardstick by any stretch of the imagination.
Ginger as a venue has a certain charm about it, along with genuine ambience with warm and friendly service personnel, not always on the ball but nevertheless friendly.
Damages came to 798RMB for two, would I go back most certainly, and can highly recommend.
Had some overseas friends in town, who wanted to see the bright lights of Shanghai along the Bund, and thought of a rooftop experience, tried to get into POP, but that was closed on a Friday evening for some event or other, so next room with a view, was M on the Bund, no tables, so opted for the bar and M Glam.
Was initially seated at one of the arty farty sofas and side table’s affairs, what’s the point of these, bloody interior designers certainly are not practical, or they just tick the box and move on to the next project without any thought for the punter.
Ordered a bottle of M’s House Cabernet Sauvignon from Angove’s Winery and local water for my mate, aka a Tsingtao beer.
Ordered the following dishes
Glams Super Food Salad – Crispy Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Pumpkin, Apple, Cashew curd, roasted tea leaves, this dish was slightly bland.
Cottage Pie - Puy Lentils, Wild Rice, Tomato, Onions with Olive Oil whipped potatoes, this was pleasant enough and rather tasty, could choice if one was a vegetarian
Fancy Cod Fish Fingers, Squid Ink, Tartare sauce – Captain Birds Eye would have been turning in his grave to see these, a rather soggy bland attempt at Fish Fingers.
Cold Smoking Salad Tartare with Baltic salmon eggs aka quail’s egg, a little on the light side.
Thai Beef Tartare – written with Pomelo and Lemongrass, but served with chunks of orange instead, why to write something on the menu and serve something completely different, it’s not a sketch from Monty Python.
Ham & Camembert Croquettes – it was a Croquette nothing special
Piccolo Pizza, Spicy Chorizo, olives, Mozzarella, a decent attempt at a pizza
M’s Glamorous Pavlova, as always this was a winner.
Overall not a bad selection of Tapas style snacks to share, well presented some tasting better than others, Service is engaging and keen without being overbearing or hovering drone like behind you.
Bill came to just over 1,200RMB for 3 pax.
Would recommend for the view and overall ambience for an inexpensive night along the Bund, with consistency being the name of the game.
Not wishing to venture too far on a mid-week catch up with a couple of friends, we decided to meet halfway, and I suggested The Cannery, which I have since renamed The Smoke House on Yuyuan Lu, more of that later.
After squeezing through the split glass entrance door, we were seated at the lounge-style dining tables, which I frankly just don’t get, if I would have wanted to be dining at a sofa and coffee table I would have stayed at home and ordered a takeaway, we moved to the high bar type tables, which has four high bar stools with a postage size table that's cluttered with all manner of useless items.
Ordered a couple of Pilsners and a Classic Margarita to start off with.
Whilst waiting for the main courses to arrive ordered the following to nibble on
Salt n Pepa Calamari – like the Holy Grail, my quest continues to find a decent plate of Calamari in Shanghai, and this feeble attempt was not one of them. My dining partners are from South Africa, where I too have lived for a number of years, and have to say the best Calamari, and they agreed has been from the southern waters off the African Continent, and cooked to perfection, and not difficult to execute either.
Crab n Shrimp Cake This dish passed muster.
Seared Scallop & lobster risotto – but with a crayfish rather than actual lobster flesh, the risotto served al dente overall a decent dish and portion size
Black Angus Flap Meat – both ordered medium rare, and served at the correct temperature as ordered, came with a dish of beans, and thin cut potato fries, the meat was ready sliced and piled up, see image overall no complaints, but call the cut a flank or skirt steak, not flap meat.
The private room at the back of the restaurant has some sort fire pit inside where wood was being burnt, did not appear to have any food cooked over the pit, as a result, the entire venue was smoky, two days later my clothes still smelled from the smoke.
The service was friendly and efficient, the music far too loud, and had to raise one’s voice to be heard.
We ordered several more drinks and sat outside on a regular table and chairs, again squeezing through the split glass entrance door, which is rather nonsensical.
Damages for 3 pax came to 1,686 or 562 per head.
Can’t say I would be returning anytime soon, just not my cup of tea.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.