We're just gonna come out and say it: spring is here. We're not trying to jinx it, these 20-degree C days have us feeling like winter never happened and even another cold snap isn't going to make us take out our heavy coats again. The season of al fresco happy hours is impending, and we say bring it on.
As the city's getting life breathed back into it, so is the world of food and drink. A few quick tidbits from around town...
Other than the weather, the buzz this week was all about the opening of Paul Pairet's new bistro Polux in Kabb's old space in Xintiandi. The idea for this spot from the mind behind Mr & Mrs Bund and Ultraviolet is casual, relaxed French fare like croque monsieur, burgers and club sandwiches – more on this to come.
Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe (RAC)
Paean to Breton galettes and natural wine RAC
will be opening its second branch later this spring. Look for the new location in the former Paras café space at Shaanxi Nan Lu and Xinle Lu.
Some of the hoarding given way to storefronts on the strip of Wulumuqi Zhong Lu south of Wuyuan Lu that's lain dormant for the last few months. Now where the first locations of Slurp! and Little Catch once were, a branch of gelateria Bonus has opened as well as not one but two spots slinging poke. Bowl Bowl Bowl seems to deal primarily in poke while a few doors down, Minimore slings poke alongside bagels, pita pockets and 'power drinks'. Signage for other concepts along the row of storefronts is still up.
Danyi Gao, chef and partner at Shake
, has opened Vietnamese concept Bun ChaCha in Lippo Plaza on Huaihai Lu. Expect bun cha
– if the name wasn't indication enough – but also staples like bun bo
, pho and bahn mi.
Photograph: courtesy The Oden
Neighbouring buildings Three on the Bund and Five on the Bund both have new Japanese spots in their respective arsenals now. Three on the Bund is opening a new izakaya-style restaurant Shinpaku on the second floor, which most recently housed UNICO and The Chop Chop Club. Across the street on the third floor of Five on the Bund, Kanpai Group's latest Shanghai project is The Oden by Kanpai Sake School. It's doing an upscale take on the Japanese simmered snack (the one you can find in your local 7-Eleven) as a backdrop for their serious sake programme.
Everyone's stretching their legs and moving around in this spring weather. Jair Gudino Chavez has left LAGO at The Bellagio and Michael Wilson has moved on from PHENIX so look for new blood in both those kitchens. It's also a time of rebirth and transformation. Short-lived Funka del Sur in Jingan will be getting a new lease on life, with a rejig into the group's much-loved Funkadeli concept.
But of course, as ever, there have been straight-up closures, with varying degrees of drama: modern Japanese restaurant UMI shuttered in Taikoo Hui and shop shut up quickly at Daimon and Bo Shanghai in Five on the Bund. Word is that Oxalis, which closed 'temporarily' a while back, at boutique hotel The Waterhouse won't be making a return either.
Let's end on a high note: new menus have been rolling out on all levels. Earlier this month, Homeslice Pizza
dropped its new spring menu, which includes an Al Pastor pizza from Shanghai EDITION executive chef Scott Melvin. If you feelin' fancy (like real fancy), Shanghai Tavern
at The EDITION launched a new Perrier-Jouet Blanc de Blancs brunch. Melvin's not doing al pastor there sadly but you can find dishes like pork pie and rye waffles with chicken and foie gras. Two courses start at 588RMB, with a glass of Perrier-Jouet Blanc de Blancs included and additional glasses for 298RMB each. For more casual weekend affairs, Cuban sandwich spot Latin Woo
and contemporary small plates resto Bird
have both also introduced brunch this month. Think ropa vieja con queso
(brisket with cheese dip) sliders at Latin Woo and Thai baked eggs at Bird. Go forth and brunch.