• Restaurants
  • Western
  • American
181 Taicang Lu

We’ve been hitting up Xintiandi more than usual of late, because new restaurants keep on appearing. Following the ranks of Paris Bleu, Chikalicious and Sweat & Tears – although further north than this group of new openings – is Calix, a restaurant, lounge and live music venue from the Muse and Barbarossa Groups.

The vibe inside is pretty relaxed, with a large central bar and a stage on one side of the room. Upstairs are a couple of private dining rooms, as well as the kitchen and a (currently unfurnished) terrace. Overall, though the space is well done enough, it seems a little lacking in identity. Where it does come into its own, however, is in the food department.

With Chef Javier Carrizosa (group head chef for the Barbarossa Group) at the helm, and consultation from Anna Bautista and Sean Jorgensen (who recently worked their magic at Chez Maurice), things have gotten off to a good start. The menu offers modern American dishes: chowder, buffalo wings, lobster mac and cheese, and plenty of beef – with a couple of fun Asian twists. Think banh mi and kimchi baos.

The ‘beginnings’, ranging in price from 52RMB for onion rings to 158RMB for lobster banh mi rolls, provide great value. The latter offers three mini brioche buns brimming with chunks of lobster in a coconut and lemongrass cream sauce. It’s a decadent riff on the humble banh mi – a Vietnamese street food classic – and one we are happy to fork out for.

Similarly good value are the ‘Aloha!’ crab and shrimp cakes (88RMB). Although we were expecting some kind of Hawaiian lei to accompany this plate, instead we’re content to find two classy, plump patties atop a pool of aioli made with mango and grain mustard. The sweetness of the fruit is offset by a slight tang from the mustard, and both team well with the crab cakes.

For mains, there’s a focus on beef (from 258RMB for a 250g tenderloin), and surf-and-turf options (from 458RMB for a half lobster and rib-eye steak), however we’re more drawn to the following page. A heaving pile of eight-hour slow-roasted pork ribs is available for 158RMB, and arrives served with a devilled egg potato salad. The ribs are sticky and sweet, coated in a chipotle, honey and barbecue glaze, offset by a simple potato salad that doesn’t quite offer the same flavour rollercoaster.

The ‘Million Dollar Lobster Mac!!!’ (and yes there are three exclamation marks on the menu), is printed with the tagline ‘The dish that you can’t resist’, making it hard not to order. Although on the expensive side (188RMB), we’re presented with a plentiful dish of lobster chunks and cheese-coated macaroni. If you like mac and cheese, this is a damn fine rendition and certainly worthy of one exclamation mark, if not three.

Given its proximity to the centre of Xintiandi, Calix will do well with tourists, while those working in the area should certainly work it into their lunch routines. The large downstairs terrace makes it a pleasant spot for lunch or dinner when the weather is cooperating, although we’re not convinced the menu alone will drag us back to Xintiandi very often.

By Victoria Brownlee

Venue name: Calix
Opening hours: 10am-2am daily
Metro: Huangpi Nan Lu
English address: 10-12 North Plaza Xintiandi, 181 Taicang Lu, near Madang Lu, Huangpu district
Chinese address: 卢湾区 太仓路181弄新天地北里10-12号, 近马当路