The second restaurant in town to bear the Jason Atherton brand on its masthead. The Commune Social is a contemporary tapas, dessert and cocktail bar. The cuisine seems largely informed by former Gordon Ramsay Lieutenant Jason Atherton's frequent flier miles log. Dishes exhibit a variety of flavors from Spain, England and all over Asia with highlights such as roasted bone marrow with beef cheek, salt and pepper squid dusted with crushed sichuan peppercorn and more. After dinner, you're lead to the dessert bar, where you can watch your sweets prepared to order. Upstairs is a craft cocktail lounge with a vast terrace. Decor is dressed down and simple with naked light bulbs, exposed concrete and plain white tiles. Calling ahead recommended, but no reservations for Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. It's first come, first served.
About 6 months ago a fellow smart-reviewer gave this place the ‘best brunch award’. Its fair to say that the Shanghai brunch game is getting pretty fierce so this was certainly a bold call, but with my curiosity peaked I was eager to see what set this place above the rest.
The Commune Social is a beautifully designed establishment with modern, industrial-style interiors and a dreamy outdoor space. Scrolling through the menus my eyebrows were raised, there is clear sophistication and originality in what they are creating here.
We turned up for a mid-week lunch and were given the choice of either the chef’s choice lunch menu; 3 dishes per person (which can include dessert/cheese if you want) for 188RMB, or the tapas menu which has a wider variety of dishes designed for sharing.
Dishes of mention:
White asparagus panna cotta, smoked salmon & pickled asparagus – certainly a decadent dish but when paired with the other fresh dishes its just the right amount
Roasted cod, tapenade, orange, grilled endive, aged sherry vinegar dressing – the freshness of the orange with the rich olive tapenade captures some of the best flavours of a European summer
The dessert menu alone makes this place worth the visit.
If you’re after a lighter option that still hits the spot go for the lemon posset. Served with frozen white chocolate mousse and lavender meringue its not only a stunning dish but absolutely delicious.
On the other hand if you’re ok with unbuttoning your pants a few notches go for the banoffee cake. A deconstructed version of the classic banoffee pie that uses banana cake as the base. Lathered in a toffee sauce and candied pecans this is not for the faint-hearted.
Commune social offer diners a unique gastronomic experience without feeling pretentious. They have successfully captured what chef Jason Atherton describes as “the deformalizing of fine dining”. As for the title of ‘best brunch in Shanghai’, its certainly a contender…
I stayed in town over Golden Week, and I went to five brunches. While I was starting to get a bit delirious over what felt like my millionth egg of the week, The Commune Social blew all of the other brunches out of the water. From the beautiful yet simple decor inside to the friendly service, I was in a really good mood before I even got my food. The portions were incredibly generous, and we definitely ordered too much.
Their brunch menu works by letting the customer choose three dishes for RMB 188. This is more than enough food for one, and all of the dishes are portioned generously. I got too excited by the a la carte menu as well, so we also ordered the Beef Tar Tar (RMB 98) and the 'Tongue and Cheek' Empanada (RMB 98). That amounted to four dishes per person plus a smoothie each. It was the last day before we had to go back to work, so it was necessary and delicious.
From the brunch menu, we sampled potato gratin, seared scallops, lamb shoulder, and smoked salmon + potato pancake. It was all really rich, but it was easy to tell the restaurant was using fresh ingredients and complimentary flavors. I can't honestly believe that it took me this long to get over to The Commune Social, and I can easily imagine it being lovely for anything from a date night to a night alone with a good meal and a book. The food was warming, delicious, and well thought out. I'm looking forward to many more meals here.
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