The Press by Inno Coffee (not to be confused with The Press which is the obvious facade for Flask on Shaanxi Nan Lu) takes up the huge corner space on Hankou and Shandong Zhong Lus, near Epices & Foie Gras. Built in 1872, the building was once home to China’s longest running daily newspaper, the Shen Bao – and Inno Coffee have decided to pay homage to this heritage through a décor that features old newspaper photos and media-related quotes on the windows. A spectacular plaster ceiling is offset by hanging lights and gorgeous black, white and grey floor tiles, and picture frames adorning the walls.
Not all of the food quite lives up to the same standards as the interiors, however. Despite a wonderfully vibrant purple hue, the beetroot soup (38RMB) tastes watery and is under-seasoned. The tuna salad (58RMB) is a stronger opener and arrives in a large bowl with an accompanying boiled egg. The ingredients taste fresh and while there’s a puddle of dressing remaining in the bottom of the dish, it doesn’t overpower it.
The lasagna (68RMB) lacks depth of flavour, mostly due to inconsistent spreading of the bechamel and meat sauces, leaving pasta sheets unadorned and dry in parts. The taste is average, and the inclusion of small cubes of carrot and celery threaded throughout do little to lift the dish out of mediocrity.
The buffalo margherita pizza (88RMB) is another main that underwhelms. The tomato sauce lacks salt and the scatters of buffalo mozzarella are too few and far between. Criminally, it’s served on a soggy base, with the pizza droop exacerbated by the drizzle of oil on top, which doesn’t fare so well as the pizza cools down.
The menu comes more into its own in its latter half. The passionfruit cheesecake (32RMB) is light and fluffy, and not a bad option when it comes to dessert. However, the chocolate fondant (28RMB) trumps it, served bubbling away in a ceramic dish with a molten centre and sprinkled with lavender sugar.
To accompany dessert, you can order a cup of Twinings (30RMB) or a pot of Mariage Frères loose tea (68RMB). There’s also a mysterious (and jaw-droppingly expensive) ‘Wine Coffee’ from Indonesia available at 288RMB per cup with very little information about the beans available from the waiters or anywhere online. The filter brew itself has a smooth and delicate finish with a complex citrus-aroma, but disappointingly, doesn’t quite live up to its enormous price tag. The Americano (28RMB/medium, 30RMB/large) does however demonstrate that the team knows what they’re doing when it comes to coffee, and at a much more reasonable price.
Despite some of its missteps, we strongly recommend popping into The Press by Inno Coffee for either lunch or coffee and cake. The impressive design and friendly service make it a great place to while away the day (the staff will even give you that all important phone charger so you can post everything you eat to your WeChat moments). Unfortunately however, the food doesn’t make it an occasion-worthy venue for dinner.