My friends and I bumped into this gem 2 weeks ago when we wanted to lunch at the hugely popular, therefore ever-so impenetrable, Pancake House on Wuding Lu.
We were so hungry that the foreseeable 30-minute waiting for the next table in the freezing cold was quite a no-go for all of us.
So, while thinking where else, nearby, we could go we noticed a boutique shop right on the left (!) of Pancake House, with a promising sign that they had a restaurant upstairs and we should by all means ring the bell.
Although it seemed like a long shot as the shop appeared to be closed, we did try and soon there came down, on the narrow stairs Michael, our host for the afternoon. Despite the fact that they only let people in with a reservation, they made an exception and we could finally warm up.
In this old Shanghainese shikumen, not only did they indeed have quite some original snug, above the small shop, we got the entire floor for ourselves together with the couple, who run it, as our waiters. They were very friendly and told us the venue’s “threefold story”: downstairs fashion shop (supplied by their private design studio), first floor home-made food, top floor a multifunctional room for art exhibitions (his private collection) and dance classes (Randy, his wife is a famous Shanghainese jazz dancer). While waiting for the starters, Timi and I were playing a costume party with the random accessories lying around as home-deco.
Both our hosts were some of the kindest and most hospitable business owners I’ve ever met. So kind, we turned a blind eye to the celebrity photocopies on the fancy-schmancy wallpaper and the large and spectacularly wrinkled, oil painting poster above the desk in the corner.
The setting is definitely something unique, which is like a cross between my grandma’s living room and Antonio Machado’s old study.
Looking back, it felt like visiting some distant, eccentric Renaissance-man cousin and his chef wife, who were happy to have us, whereas we arrived without any former notice.
Ladies, the dresses and accessories are also worth a look – just send the guys upstairs where they can have a drink while you flip them through!
Coffee’s great, food’s Western and lunch comes with complimentary dessert!
873 Wuding Lu (close to Changde lu)
Tel: 86 21 621 15095 (10 am-10 pm)