This venue has closed.
Popular health-focused (but not annoyingly so) salad and sides cafe from Kelley Lee on the ground floor of Xintiandi's south block. Below is our write up from the original Donghu Lu branch:
‘Sides’, which might suggest chips and onion rings, are in fact, Lee’s strongest suit: bright, creative, generously sized portions of salad (20RMB/serving) – some you’ll recognise; some, gleefully, you won’t. They change daily, but might include a reminder of how well raisins work with quinoa and pinenuts; some excellent lentils, with bacon, frisee, smoked duck and apple; and feta, black olives and cherry tomatoes with pert baby cucumbers.
Missteps are only as serious as overcooked wholewheat rotini (20RMB) that otherwise works well with grilled artichokes, peppers, olives and arugula, and a too acidic mix of kale, bitter radicchio, garlic and bacon (20RMB). Otherwise, Lee succeeds with sides that have a well-pronounced clarity of flavour and don’t tire the palate with the vinegars and brines common to lesser salad bars.
Drinks also excel: a strawberry lemonade (18RMB/free refills) sounds sickly but isn’t, and the passion fruit seasonal ice tea also has a well-checked sweetness.
Elsewhere, daily paninis (38RMB) are serviceable to satisfying: one Friday, we want a slightly less miserly serving of cheese with our country ham but are more than happy with a spicy chickpea falafel, pickled onion, grilled eggplant and pepper tapenade the following Monday. Mainstay salads also show imagination: California Asian (45RMB; 30RMB half size), offers a pleasing tease of citrus via lettuce, almonds, wontons and mandarin slices. We’ll be back for the soups, too (three daily specials, 25RMB/500ml). And those sides, of course. We do like the sides.