For new bars and restaurants, the rotating concepts
trend is a tough one to pull off. It counts on guests
chasing novelty over regular favourites, and caring
enough to keep up when concepts do change. If any
pair can get us in Shanghai to keep up though, it might
be Carson Xie (formerly The Nest) and Eddy Yang (formerly Tailor Bar, Above the Globe). At Chameleon, the duo turn out stellar
cocktails and small dishes with flavours highlighting a
different region or city.
The concept’s set to change every
six months based on eating and drinking trips with
menus they’ll bring back. Fitting, as the fifth-floor bar
is decked out like a beachside vacation home: all
potted palms dotted between laid-back wicker
chairs, macramé throw pillows and stripy
sand art on the walls.
Chameleon’s first iteration is the pair’s
take on Shanghai with a drinks menu that’s
divided up into three sections (bubbles, sweet
and sour and sipping).
A favourite is the
Dad Bod, a riff on a boulevardier that packs
barbecue-ready flavours like bay leaf and
cumin. A murky purple mix of port and smoky
whisky, The Pot-Stew New York Sour gets a hit
of flavour from five spice and comes topped
with a sliver of ham crisped up by a chef’s torch. Not all takes go down as smoothly – a hot cocktail
with TCM ingredients like yuzhu and dangshen, the
Punk Preserve is bitter, verging on medicinal.
A dinner menu complements all that booze nicely.
The Surf and Turf Tartare sees toast swapped with
hot and crispy glutinous rice cakes and a Yunnan
mushroom soup is also delicious. After 10pm, things
get more casual with a late-night snack menu that
includes congyou banmian. Xie and Yang say upcoming
research trips will be anywhere from Southeast Asia
to Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean. And when
they’re back, all journeys we’re psyched to go on with
Average cocktail: 90RMB.
By Ellen Schaft