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Total Reviews: 58

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.

  • Located on the cross streets of Huashan and Wulumuqi Roads, you find the delightful Mercado 505.

    I have dined at Mercado 505 on two prior occasions and always enjoyed dining on the terrace, for the whole concept of Mercado 505 cries out for Al fresco dining.

    What a pity that the heavy downpours this past Thursday evening prevented one from dining Al fresco, despite arriving without a reservation one is warmly welcomed by Marta and shown a table for two, on what one might call the mezzanine floor of the restaurant, we were promptly shown the menus, and offered a complimentary glass of Cava, which went down very well I might say.

    On to the menu, started off with a delicious plate of Casa Santona Golden Anchovies, served with a tomato base with olive oil, and warm bread, these went down a treat with the Cava.

    Ordered the following dishes which are just right for sharing.

    Scampi Carpaccio: wonderful delicate flavours and the nibbed almonds just finish this dish off.

    Fried Calamari: well it’s calamari rings, with a light coating of breadcrumbs and sauce vert, these were so-so, needed a little kick to enhance the flavour, to which we added a dash of Tabasco.

    For these dishes we ordered two white wines by the glass, a lovely Abadia San Campio, Rias Baixas and a Ramon Bilbao, Rueda both excellent wines, served at the right temperature, decent size pour and certainly value for money at 55 & 60 a glass.

    We then preceded to order a further two dishes, again for sharing.

    Beef Tartar: (I can never have enough of this dish, does not matter which restaurant I go to) the dish is accompanied with four chunky sized deep-fried potatoes, some warm toast, and six smidgens of mustard.  The dish was fine, once you mixed yourself, although had to ask for both a salt cellar and pepper grinder, neither were on the table.

    Iberico Pluma/ Piquillo Pepper: Grilled sweet red capsicum with pork, the meat was tender and had a reasonable amount of sauce within the dish, but could have done with a touch more sauce, had to ask for some bread to mop up what sauce there was remaining in the dish, truly delightful dish.

    For these dishes we ordered two red wines by the glass, a Penalosa R Duero and a Viaje de Ramon Rioja and both excellent wines, served at the right temperature, decent size pour and certainly value for money at 40 & 50 a glass.

    The restaurant was extremely busy on both levels, with a diverse mix of clientele, service was efficient and well serviced, the management of Mercado 505, certainly know about customer service, they have well-trained employees, I can’t fault the place, many areas that are overlooked in establishments are the toilet facilities, the Unisex toilets were spotlessly clean and well serviced at Mercado 505.

    I can only recommend a trip to the market that is Mercado 505.

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    What a great find on Wuyuan Lu, that is Bird Wine Bar & Kitchen, more than just a hole in the wall.

    One needs to book on a Friday evening, it gets busy, as people like to linger, and what a pleasant surprise Bird Wine Bar & Kitchen turned out to be, with their innovative selection of dishes, you can feel that the kitchen team have “given their all” in preparing the dishes.

    Ordered the following dishes:

    Potato puff, along with the Melon gazpacho and basil sorbet, these were outstanding, as was the Octopus, and Chicken nuggets.

    The only dish that I felt was a little flat was the Choux pastry dessert, choux pastry at the best of times is not the easiest of dishes to maintain a decent puff especially in the humidity of Shanghai, it fell a little flat and became soggy.

    I understand the dishes will change on a monthly basis, the Chicken nugget dish is one they should keep, for the interesting combination of flavours, and bears no resemblance in any shape or form from those of a fast food establishment.

    While the dishes can be for sharing, they also work well for one, and there was a pleasing number of solo diners with a smart device and a glass of wine or perhaps they were just those waiting for their date to arrive. I always think better of restaurants where people feel comfortable eating alone.

    There is a wide range of affordable and interesting wines by the glass, coupled with the fact that the pours are more than the thimbles of wine that are being served at some of the other newly opened establishments in Shanghai, this is a plus for me.

    The wait staff are friendly and unobtrusive, lovely atmosphere in the place, nice to see the chef and bar man interacting with the clientele.

    A great deal for a Friday night out, all for just 800RMB for two pax, a steal. I look forward to the roof top area opening in the cooler months of Autumn, can only recommend Bird Wine Bar & Kitchen and will certainly return.


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  • At 8pm on a Friday evening Goose Island Brew Pub was buzzing, so much so that we had to sit at the bar counter, not that this was an issue, just had to turn one’s head to see the action going on, which seemed to be a vast majority of small groups of office workers enjoying a Friday night out, and why not.

    The menu at Goose Island is like greeting a much-missed old friend, this is not food that pushes boundaries; it is very happy keeping to its own agenda, honest to goodness Pub Grub, although I detect someone may have been reading Louis Saulnier’s Le Répertoire de La Cuisine in describing some of the dishes, or used an Atlas for place names of dishes.

    Whilst deciding what to eat, we ordered a flight of ales, which are served in a cute medical style box with full on descriptions, along with a pint of their classic IPA, I ended up quaffing several of the remaining ales from the flight, as they were a little too much for my dining partner. Started off with the aged Chilean wagyu tartare, served with Sofie bread, house pickles and topped with Honkers smoked egg yolk, great presentation, along with overall taste. This was followed by asparagus on Himalayan Salt Slab, topped with an egg confit, pickled tomatoes and roasted red pepper cream, the presentation is super, as was the taste, one thing that was missing from the serving plate was the actual Himalayan Salt Slab (Kate & Kimi have these on sale).

    We had a craving for ribs, and just had to go with the 32-hour Bourbon barrel Smoked Spare Ribs, served with Bourbon County Stout BBQ sauce, the meat just fell off of the bone, the ribs had the right amount of smokiness which lingered through, we ordered an extra side of Pub Fries, these are Hand-cut fries served with filata (aka pulled or stretched cheese) and topped with light sprinkling of bacon dust, great to see that the restaurant is serving real potatoes.

    Considering the volume of business that evening, the wait staff were efficient, perhaps a little robotic at times, but overall friendly enough. I can certainly recommend Goose Island Brew Pub, it demands to be liked.

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  • I have been fortunate to go to Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse on a number of occasions in the past, where one was guaranteed to have, dare I say a bog standard North American style steak and sides in the vein of a Morton’s, Peter Lugers, or the infamous Sparks Steak House.

    Sadly since relocating the Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse has not just lost its clubby atmosphere and veneer that it once had in the previous location, the food has taken a dive as well. I went along to see how this concept works, for the want of a better word in “a hotel coffee shop”, which is what the place is by day at the InterContinental Ruijin.

    I was a walk-in, for a table of one at dinner. The area is partitioned off with screens, and several tables are decked out with white table linen, I think they were trying to create a little mood by having these screens. I opted to sit away from this area on a regular banquet seating, there is no vibe of the old clubby-ness of the former Roosevelt Prime, as the venue is rather cavernous. I ordered a Caesar salad, such a basic dish, in its original form, this salad was prepared and served table side, sadly not on this night, a rather oversized soup plate was plonked down in front of me, with a watery sauce, and rather large dry croutons, which had seen better days, the dish was a far cry from what Caesar Cardini created all those years ago during prohibition.

    On to the main course, I ordered a 330grm New York Strip steak, aka Sirloin or the classic French cut of an Entrecôte was what it was supposed to be, I asked for medium rare, the steak came more medium to well, full of gristle, and this was supposed to be US Beef, I have had better Chinese Beef from Qingdao. I left most of the steak, a waiter came over and inquired whether anything was wrong, I said the steak was over cooked and tasteless, I was offered a complimentary dessert to which I declined, why do restaurants offer complimentary desserts when the main course is shite, and they can see that most of it is left.

    During the meal I had two thimbles (well small pours) of overpriced non-descript wines by the glass, a glass of white from France and glass of Spanish red. Service was slow at best, certainly no attention to detail, bread basket appeared to be what were once rolls, only sliced. Damages for a table of one, a mere 745RMB. Needless to say, I won’t be going back, and certainly would not recommend either, as Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse has become so passé.

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  • You see the restaurant, then you need to find the entrance, which is somewhat confusing, then you enter what seems to be the back of the restaurant, one does not get a sense of arrival, except a hostess stand with no host? … was able to grab the attention of someone behind the bar, who in turn found a waiter to take us to our reserved table?

    What’s with all the new restaurants in Shanghai with these low kiddie style dinning arrangements, accompanied by what seems to be children’s cutlery. The table needed to propped up by a wedge of paper napkin to stop the wobble. The plates that one eats one’s food off are heavily scratched, and instead of a full napkin, you are proffered several cocktail napkins, good job my father always taught me to carry a handkerchief, I used this as a full-sized napkin. The music is far too loud to hold any form of conversation. There’s less than an aspiring wine list of wines by the glass, coupled with the 5oz measures, which did not quite measure up, opted for two glasses of mediocre Rose, then proceeded to order several dishes, which were accompanied another two glasses of mediocre 5oz Spanish wines by the glass.

    Foie Gras and Malt – lots of whipping going on with this dish Smoked Eel Liver Ears – interesting concept Spiced Shell Crab - The star dish of the evening Duck Breast – must have a bloody small duck three bite size pieces and tough as old boots. Bread basket which you are charged for – totally uninspiring selection of dry bread, good job they offer water by the glass for free! After reading so many positive reviews of Blackbird, I left underwhelmed and unsure what the venue is trying to be, perhaps many of the millennial snappers dinning there do, I certainly won't be returning.

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  • Went along to the recently opened Shanghai Tavern at the Edition hotel, or the Western restaurant, take your pick on the names.

    I would have that thought they would have included 上海 in their translation, oddly enough the rest of the menu is all in English?

    Opted for the following: Traditional pork pie: no jelly to be found, the dish was ok, the pastry passed the test but overall more akin to a Pate en croute than your traditional pork pie! Beef tartare: This was exceptional, one of the best that I have had in Shanghai, and comparable to Villa Le Bec’s tartare. Fish & Chips: large portion of fish, really minty peas, chips were disappointing, why serve shoe string potatoes, when the classic fish & chips from any UK high street would be large thick cut chips. Rib Eye steak accompanied with lobster maître d’hôtel butter: ordered medium rare, the cooks know what they’re doing here, the temperature of the steak was perfect granted, one is only paying 248RMB +15% for this dish, why no indication of the weight of the cut of meat on the menu.

    Had several glasses of wine by the glass, the whites were far too cold to enjoy out of the gate, the reds were served at the correct temperature and enjoyable, although the range of wines by the glass were both limited and expensive. I noticed on the menu, a classic dish from the 70’s, which seemed to be on every UK menu, Beef mignon “Tornedoes Rossini “If one is going to use French kitchen terminology for a dish i.e. Tournedos, then make sure you spell it correctly

    Why is it that even with the likes of having Ian Schrager / Marriott behind the hotel, designers still can’t get the banquette seat height ratio correct to the dining chair, nor any back support on the banquette, I wonder what the original American architect, Elliot Hazzard of the building would have had to say on the area now. Granted the hotel recently opened, but when asking for a fapiao the response was that finance was off on the weekend, with all the Marriott group hotels in Shanghai one would have thought that the required fapiao machine and documentation would have been in order to operate. The dining room is cavernous and reminded me of a dining room at a Bahnhof, and at 18h30 on a Saturday the music was far too loud for conversation. The service was impeccable, overall ok as a venue, not cheap 1,300RMB for two, and yes, I would go back.

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  • Having experienced Commune Social, and knowing that Together was from the same stable, was really looking forward to dining at this much touted venue seeing all the rave reviews.

    Started off with some mediocre wines by the glass, there are not that many to choose from and the price points, well for the pour they remain forgettable. Ordered the following, as these were what seemed to popular on all the social media sites at present. Crab Dashi – heavy set in jelly, unlike the image posted and lackluster in taste. Australian Wagyu beef tartar – lacked depth, needed additional seasoning, too much went into the presentation. Octopus, gochujang, crunchy crumbs – once you scrapped of the vast amount of blackened crumbs away the octopus was actually soft and tasty, so too much of a breadcrumb coating. Tournedos pork (really belly pork) with pepperoncini sauce - despite being belly pork, this dish was succulent, but could have additional sauce on the side, the dish was accompanied with side of Endives & Radicchio, it’s known that an endive can be at times bitter in taste, but coupled with a dark bitter sauce did not help! Ordered another side to go with the main course of roasted new potatoes, these were excellent. If one is going to use French kitchen terminology for a dish i.e. Tournedos, then make sure that cut is in fact a Tournedo, and not a strip of belly pork. Bread bag - nothing special, the whipped butter, topped with sea salt, sadly the butter had been pre-prepared and left open in a fridge, you get that distinct taste of a fridge permeating through the butter?

    The meal was accompanied by a further two wines by the glass, a Malbec which frankly was the only decent glass of wine by the glass for the evening. The venue was full, and extremely noisy, far too loud to have an intimate conversation. The wait staff were friendly, and efficient. Disappointing and not likely to return, a mediocre meal for two RMB940

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  • Thought I would give the much-touted Columbia Country Club compound that is sandwiched between Yan'an Xi Lu and Panyu Lu, a second shot. I was somewhat reluctant to venture back, having had a poor experience at another of the restaurants within. My arm was twisted by a fair maiden, what more can one do, but acquiesce.

    Arrived at around 19h30, through what appeared to be the back door of the restaurant? “Shanghai Sign writers” aren't making much money these days, they could make a fortune on directional signage. There were just two other diners seated within the rather large Parlour. Oh dear I thought this does not bode well, especially when “three doors down” Inkwood was “chock a block”, did we choose the right venue for dinner I am saying to myself.

    We were seated at a table, with chairs at the right height to table ratio, wonders never cease! Offered the menu, and drinks list by a charming young waitress called Cathy and opted to start with drinks, a glass of Prosecco and a glass of Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc, both were served at the correct temperature, the pours were generous, and price point spot on for a change.

    Seeing the many reviews from other social platforms, decided to go with what seemed to be the most popular dishes. Wishbone fried chicken wings, Vietnamese style of serving with a tangy dipping sauce, with a mix of crunchy pickled beetroot and radish on the side, which makes a change from the usual fare around town of serving a blue cheese dip with wings. Unsure why they call them wishbone though, a bit tough and dry. Tuna Tartar, now any time one reads a menu, you conjure up what you think the dish might resemble, this dish was actually pretty dam good, two slices of what appeared to be compressed rice cake, topped with the chopped tuna and to round off a quail’s egg atop, could have done with just a little more seasoning of salt in my opinion. Mortadella Pizza, what more can be said it’s a thin crust pizza with a Curly Wurly topping of pistachio sauce. Beef Dripping chips, served with Kimchi sauce, not bad, at least they were once thick cut potatoes, none of your shoestring jobbies. A further three glasses wine, this time a Shiraz from Down Under, again decent pours and affordable pricing To end, a white chocolate parfait, just right and well presented, the chef is obviously talented in this department.

    We were there for about two hours, delighted to see other diners coming in and enjoying the fare, and cross section of folk. Great selection of music, sort of throwback to the 70’s and 80’s sounds of Philly and Motown music played, and not blaring out. Overall a good impression of the venue, certainly value for money at 636RMB for two, just a pity there were not more punters on a Friday evening, but then again it was raining. I would certainly recommend.

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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.