As happens in a city with as many people as Shanghai, there are those parts of town that feel paradoxically busy/dead – busy because of sheer foot and car traffic, dead because the stores have largely been faceless international chains (we love you H&M but...) and old Shanghai laozihao that aren't exactly weekend destinations.
Until this year, the strip of Huaihai between iAPM and the edge of Xintiandi was exactly that. Name one thing that was there... nothing, right? But over the summer, there's been a flurry of new openings at 627 Huaihai Zhong, with a new WeWork, CrossFit gym One Nation Fitness and now most recently multi-concept brand Mia Fringe.
Mia Fringe has a lot going on. Walk in one door on the ground floor of the sprawling two-storey, 1,600sqm space, there's a café where you can grab coffee or a pastry to go or catch up with a friend at one of the communal tables. Walk through the other entrance and you're right in the brand's lifestyle multi-brand shop, which carries a curated array of affordable international and domestic designers, like Free People and Saint James. There's a small area for pop-ups to feature up-and-coming designers.
Upstairs (stairs which are gorgeous by the way – the whole space was designed by Shanghai-based Italian design firm Kokaistudios) are the higher-end mens and womenswear labels and the Mia Fringe restaurant and bar.
Mia Fringe's retail game is strong, with over 60 brands at the moment – like Wood Wood, Veja and Alexa Chung – and spanning a whole range of price points. By the end of the year, there'll be 80 different brands in store.
Like the retail space, the dining room has Wes Anderson whispers, with rounded mirrors, brass fixtures set against mahogany-coloured wood and white banquette seating.
The kitchen is serving up an 'all-day brunch' menu daily from 11.30am to 2pm, meaning that you can get (some excellent) brunch-y egg dishes alongside sandwiches, burgers, salads and pastas. Also brunch? Chicken and waffles. Which they serve. YAS.
The chicken and waffles is excellent – crispy, juicy and flavourful which is everything you want out of the dish – which makes sense when you hear that the chef, James Lu, was most recently at Highline. Scrambled egg with shrimp and black truffle is the most surprising and impressive – wonderfully fragrant and unexpectedly but delightfully like a Shanghainese dish served on toast.
Well-executed, simple dishes – the burger, seafood pasta and the like – rely on excellent, high-quality ingredients – all quite surprising when most brunch dishes are a very reasonable 68-78RMB and there's nothing on the menu over 100RMB.
Mia Fringe is also offering afternoon tea daily from 2 to 5pm, complete with a tiered tray of small sweet and savoury bites at 298RMB for two. It's served on Wedgwood fine china, white-gloved service and all, with a trolley bearing a choice of 12 teas.
Like the rest of the space and the concept as a whole, it hits the balance between relaxed but classy – and incredibly well-priced.