You may not yet be sold on bars and restaurants in malls, but they're spreading like wildfire in Shanghai and we’d all do well to accept it. Inside swanky iapm for example – home to other notable names like Bang by Mr Willis
and ban ban by Sproutworks
– THE CUT Rooftop is sheltered from the rest of the mall in a way that, thankfully, lets you quickly forget you’re in one.
Reach the seventh floor rooftop terrace via private elevator from inside sister restaurant THE CUT Steak & Fries
, where upon ascent you're met with a view overlooking Xiangyang Park set against a backdrop of Jingan's skyscrapers, that makes for a refreshing change from the Pudong skyline. The space is cool and comfortable, the music is right and the location is convenient, making it the sort of place you'd want to swing by for a cocktail and a bite with coworkers from the afterwork-style menu.
On the drink front, you’ll see why the earthy Heartbeat’s beetroot-infused whiskey and frothed egg white cap were made for each other as they come together to form a sweet and sultry foam on the tongue. And petals dye scarlet streaks as they sink into the oddly named Wilderness cocktail, adding further floral tinges to the tipple of rose water and Chivas with rose syrup, peach liquor, pineapple and lemon. As the booze sets in, muffle the rumble in your stomach with a trio of mini burgers smeared with savoury black pepper mayo and coriander and seasoned signature potato wedges with house-made tartar sauce.
Some drinks try hard but don’t succeed: a fashionable ‘Shishojito’ makes the promising swap-out of mint for shiso leaves, but their distinctive flavour is hidden by the mistake of trading soda water for ginger ale. In name it seems like the thing to sip alongside pork and foie gras gyoza, which sound delightful but are perplexingly dry and tasteless even after a liberal bath in dipping sauce.
On the other hand, if you see a server walk buy with a cast iron plate of fried chicken wings in a nest of chillies, you pretty much have to add one to your order, the batter-coated skin could use an extra minute in the fryer, but there's spice and flavour underneath that's nicely cooled by the seasonal BKK tonic – a giant glass of gin and coconut tonic water, zesty with kaffir lime leaf and a bit of passionfruit.
This is a place where things are consistently satisfying, but they just don’t really wow. The cocktails are trendy, yet there are better versions around the city. The food hits the spot, though not hard enough to leave its mark. But bars don’t all have to be trailblazers to be likeable and worthy of recommendation – THE CUT Rooftop is solid spot in the area for a hang with colleagues or your more casual business meetings. It's a place you could definitely come to rely on and one you're likely to return to again and again.