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408 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Slides aren’t something you’d normally associate with a restaurant. Nor are swings. But while these pieces of apparatus seem more at home in a playground than in a dining establishment, they somehow work in creative new Austrian restaurant, Daliah, a venue that openly celebrates ‘food and weirdness’.

The idea is to create a playful atmosphere, one where diners can share dishes in a relaxed setting – the menu even states that dishes are specifically made in portions that enable customers to try multiple items, with at least two being the recommended number per person. Yet the dishes don’t always come in a share-friendly order; the small, open kitchen clearly has a ‘send when-ready’ modus operandi and the largest of our dishes arrives first on one visit.

Then again, some of the dishes are so tasty you won’t want to share anyway. The Viennese veal schnitzel (98RMB, pictured inset), for example comes perfectly cooked – crispy on the outside and bursting with buttery meat in the middle. The cranberries add a sweet, tart contrast and while the potatoes are a little overly crunchy, they’re imbued with flavour by the addition of fresh parsley.

The homemade tagliatelle with sautéed scallops and fresh parmesan (79RMB) is another enjoyable larger plate, with the al dente pasta twirling seamlessly with the cheese. The fat scallops complement the dish perfectly and supply some added texture and substance.

From the smaller dishes, the vegetable broth with Austrian herb pancakes (62RMB) is a saltless and also largely flavourless affair. Opt instead for the traditional Austrian paprika-spiced soft cheese spread Liptauer, served on dense bread. It’s a light and moreish snack (38RMB).

Run by a group of young friends, Daliah features some blips in service and food, but the team’s way of dealing with these opening jitters makes them largely forgivable. The servers are prompt, helpful and apologetic if something’s not up to scratch; even the menu includes a little disclaimer: ‘We apologise in advance for the natural and inevitable mistakes we will make along the way’.

On the whole, Daliah is casual, fun and the food shows great promise. It’s exciting to see a new dining option that demonstrates innovation, creativity and a love of the dining experience that’s not always seen in the Shanghai scene. Don’t come expecting perfection; instead come for lunch, nab a swing seat and enjoy some unique food offerings.

By Victoria Brownlee

Venue name: Daliah
Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 4-9pm daily
Metro: Nanjing Xi Lu
English address: 408 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu, Jingan district
Chinese address: 静安区陕西北路408号, 近北京西路
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