Shanghai: Coffee Tree and Snippets of the French Concession

Ferguson Lane Shanghai

Hipster dogs also enjoy brunch in Shanghai

This past week, Shanghai’s pollution Air Quality Index (AQI) hit an all-time high of 504 out of 500! We exceeded the scale. How is that even possible? I find it hard to believe that just one week ago, I was enjoying fresh air and sunshine and roaming the quaint French Concession neighborhood.

Shanghai: Coffee Tree

Shanghai: Coffee Tree

I caught up with some friends for brunch at the Coffee Tree, which is located down an alleyway, Ferguson Lane, at 376 Wukang Road (武康路376号). Coffee Tree has a big outside patio area (perfect for warm summer days) and a smaller indoor area. They don’t take reservations, but my friends were lucky with the timing and we were able to get a table for three easily.

Coffee Tree has an awesome brunch special. For 138 RMB, you can get a 2-course brunch special with starter, main, endless coffee and a drink of your choice. For a 168 RMB, you can get a 3-course special with 2 starters, main, endless coffee and a drink of your choice OR starter, main, dessert, endless coffee and a drink of your choice. It’s a lot of food!

Top left (clockwise): Italian Egg Benedict, French Toast, Smoke Salmon Pasta, Close-up on Poached Egg

Top left (clockwise): Italian Egg Benedict, French Toast, Smoke Salmon Pasta, Close-up on Poached Egg

Between the three of us, we ordered French toast, Italian Egg Benedict, Norwegian Egg Benedict, smoked salmon pasta, cheesecake, cappuccinos, fresh juice and coffee. We definitely did not go hungry. My favorite was the Italian Egg Benedict. It was two perfectly poached eggs served on top of prosciutto and wheat bread with a small order of potatoes and salad. Whenever I order eggs benedict at a new restaurant, I always ask for the hollandaise sauce on the side. It’s so easy to mess up hollandaise that I don’t want it spread all over my plate of food if I don’t like the taste of it. Luckily, Coffee Tree’s hollandaise sauce did not fall into that category! It was light and creamy at the same time with just a hint of lemon– the perfect touch of acidity.

The French toast was a pass. It didn’t have enough cinnamon flavoring and was also missing that egg-y, custard-y batter in the middle. My friend liked his pasta a lot and his wife raved about her Norwegian Egg Benedict. So I would definitely recommend the eggs benedict at Coffee Tree!

French Concession

After brunch, I decided to wander and try and capture some of the beautiful architecture and scenery in the French Concession. Technically, the area is now called “The Former French Concession” because they changed the name a few years ago, but it’s just too much effort to say that many words. It’s still the French Concession in my mind.

French Concession People

I loved all the tall sycamore trees with their leaves slowly changing colors, causing the light to dapple on all the buildings. It was a beautiful day and posting these photos is already making me mourn the loss of fresh air in Shanghai. Hopefully, the air will clear up soon so I can go back to happily wandering the meandering roads of Shanghai (sans-mask)!

French Concession Walks

Shanghai’s Cuivre: “Copper” Never Tasted So Good

Homard Risotto

Lobster Risotto

The restaurant industry in Shanghai is absolutely insane because the turnover is so high. While it’s sad to see some of my favorites go, it is exciting hearing the buzz about new places like Cuivre on 1502 Huai Hai Zhong Lu (淮海中路1502号). The restaurant has only been open for about a year, but they just won Best Restaurant of the Year and Best Newcomer according to popular Shanghai magazine, City Weekend. Cuivre, which means “copper” in French, serves Southern French cuisine courtesy of Michael Wendling who used to be the executive chef at Allure at Le Royal Meridien in Shanghai.

Cuivre Inside

I Love the Light Fixtures

I went to Cuivre twice (once with my friend and once with my mother) and I loved being able to practice French with the owner and staff. The menu is small (but on iPads), but I was told they generally change one to two dishes every three weeks or so.  When you go, you must order the terrine de foie gras, which is served with cherries and cute little toast pieces. The foie gras was incredibly smooth and rich (perfect with a glass of red wine). I also tried the white asparagus, which is grilled, and served with hollandaise sauce, a poached egg, ham and a little bit of cheese. The asparagus was tender and I liked how it was paired with the saltier meat.

Terrine de Foie Gras

Terrine de Foie Gras with Cherries

White Asparagus

White Asparagus

Le Cochon Noir

Le Cochon Noir (Pork Chop)

Bavette

Bavette with Frites (Flank Steak with Fries)

Cuivre iPad Menu

Cuivre iPad Menu (Bonus Points for WARM Bread)

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Spain Inside Shanghai? Only at Bocado

So I’m in Shanghai for the next month and caved into paying for a VPN. I couldn’t last a whole 4-5 weeks with no access to my blog! You know what else I miss in China? Yelp. Yes, part of me understands why it’s blocked in China, but Yelp could totally be the Holy Grail for foreigners here in Shanghai. There are SO many restaurants here and a real lack of reviews. Fear not! I am here to try and fill in those gaps for you. While you may judge me for eating at Western restaurants in Shanghai, please note that I also eat plenty of Chinese food. There’s just really good Western food that you can’t pass up.

Inside Bocado

Inside Bocado

I just got back from one of those nights. One of those magical nights that remind you why you love China so freaking much. My friend Vanessa* and I tried out a new Spanish restaurant called Bocado, located in the French Concession on the 2nd floor of 47 Yong Fu Road (永富路47号2楼). Bocado just opened about 7 months ago and now has live flamenco guitar music every Wednesday night. I highly recommend you go on a Wednesday because the music was amazing. The guitarist played “La Camisa Negra” by Juanes and won 500 million points for that. Seriously, you can never have too much Juanes in your life. I met Bocado’s owner, Charles Cabell, and brand-new manager, Pablo. Charlie and Pablo were incredibly nice and sent me complimentary appetizers after I shared my MOO blog business card with them (the perks of being an eater extraordinaire).

Pulpo a la Gallega and Croquetas de Setas

Pulpo a la Gallega and Croquetas de Setas

Blood Sausage

Morcilla a la Parrilla

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Paella

Paella de Marisco

We started the night with glasses of their red sangria and I was very happy to see that Bocado does not skimp on the fruit or flavor in their sangria. For appetizers, we had the morcilla a la parrilla (blood sausage), croquetas de setas (mushroom and truffle croquettes), pulpo a la gallega (octopus), and jamon iberico (Iberian ham). My favorite was definitely the octopus. It was served on top of thin slices of potatoes and topped with paprika and sea salt. The octopus was tender, not rubbery. The little bursts of sea salt really balanced out the flavor of the dish and I kept reaching for a second, and then a third, and then a fourth helping. The blood sausage was also really good and I liked how there was a slight crispiness to it because they barbecued it and then served it on top of a bed of bell peppers. While the mushroom croquettes were tasty, they weren’t anything extraordinary. I liked the Iberian ham though, which is imported from Spain, and cut in thicker slices than what I’ve seen in the U.S.  Continue reading