Shanghai: Bull & Claw Brunch and Al’s Diner

Bull and Claw: Lobster Eggs Benedict

Bull and Claw: Lobster Eggs Benedict

It’s hard to get excited for brunch in Shanghai. I know, total #firstworldproblem if there ever was one. Ever since Madison closed, there’s been a hole in my life because brunch just doesn’t compare elsewhere. Also, I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg just to eat brunch on the Bund. I’m really happy to report that Bull & Claw (466 Xikang Lu; 西康路466号) in Jing’an was one of the most enjoyable brunches I’ve had in ages. It was warm this past weekend and they were able to open all of the sliding doors and let in the fresh air.

Bull & Claw in Shanghai

Bull & Claw in Shanghai

Bull & Claw offers a three-course set menu: 1 course for 85 RMB, 2 courses for 145 RMB and 3 courses for 165 RMB. Considering that they had cocktails and fresh juices listed as one of the courses, it’s really easy to decide to just splurge and go for all three.

Bull and Claw Brunch

Bull & Claw Brunch

I ordered the brioche French toast and lobster eggs Benedict while my friend ordered the Turkish menemen. I have to admit that the French toast was the only lackluster part of my meal. The bread was really dry and although the salted caramel sauce was delicious, it couldn’t make up for the fact that the bread was horribly dry. I want my French toast to be a custard-like consistency after soaking in beautiful creamy batter all night. This French toast didn’t really have much taste.

However, the rest of the food made up for the poor French toast. While you do have pay an extra 80 kuai for the lobster eggs Benedict, it is totally worth it. The English muffins were toasted well and topped with bacon, a healthy portion of spinach, beautiful pieces of lobster, perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. I loved my dish. The lobster tasted fresh with great texture (not that weird mushy consistency). The spinach and bacon made the dish felt more substantial and the whole dish is surprisingly filling. I couldn’t even finish it (and I ate this first before trying the French toast). My friend’s Turkish menemen was absolutely delicious. Similar to a shashuka, two eggs are baked in a casserole dish with tomatoes, onions, peppers, sumac, yoghurt and spices. The menemen definitely has a little bit of kick and is spicy and flavorful. You also get two toasted pieces of bread to soak up all that liquid goodness. I can’t wait to go back to Bull & Claw soon and try more of their dishes.

Milkshake at Al's Diner

Milkshake at Al’s Diner

I was really excited to try Al’s Diner (204 Xinle Lu; 新乐路204号), which offered greasy, comfort food and homemade ice cream from Gracie’s. Gracie’s started with a small ice cream cart outside of House of Lasagna, but Al’s Diner offers a full ice cream bar with a myriad of different flavors. You can make any of her ice cream flavors into a milkshake and I decided to get the Winterberry and White Chocolate one. Considering the high quality of her ice cream, this milkshake was absolutely magical. It was bursting with berry flavor and so deeply satisfying. The only thing that could have made it better would be if it was slightly thicker and also slightly cheaper (60 RMB for a shake).

Al's Diner: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings, Patty Melt and Kimchee Fried Rice

Al’s Diner: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings, Patty Melt and Kimchee Fried Rice

When my friend and I met up, we were starving and quickly ordered the honey sriracha chicken wings, patty melt and kimchee fried rice. The chicken wings came in 2nd after the milkshake. They were crispy, but not too greasy, and had a nice sweet and spicy flavor. The accompanying cole slaw was really meh (needed more mayo), but that just leaves more space in your stomach for chicken.

We weren’t as pleased with our main dishes. The patty melt was two Australian beef patties with caramelized onions, mushrooms and Gouda cheese. The bread was buttered and toasted perfectly and the filling was done well, but the meat had no taste. It needed some more salt and pepper and I found myself slathering ketchup all over my melt. The side of fries were definitely good with a great crisp. While the patty melt lacked flavor, the kimchee fried rice was bursting with it. Chinese sausage and mushrooms are mixed well in this rice and I liked the fried egg topping. I just found this rice to be WAY too oily and I couldn’t have more than a couple of bites.

I would love to go back to Al’s Diner, but I would try different dishes. I’ve heard really good reviews about the lemon ricotta and blueberry pancakes that I definitely want to try. While I did enjoy my milkshake, 60 RMB is a little too steep and I’d recommend going on Mondays when they have 30 RMB milkshake specials.