When you walk in, you sort of want to turn into a pesky paparazzi and roam free. Then again, I’ve sort of earned that title everywhere I go. The first thing you see is a massive chandelier as you walk in. You might feel like a royal walking into a ballroom. If you weren’t feeling intimidated to meet your friend group or date before this point, you might be feeling it after you step off the elevator.
You walk into a three-story sumptuous dining and lounge area where at the very end, plush velvet mile high curtains drape floor to ceiling. A brightly lit bar on the left-hand corner make way for a pre-dinner drink in case your table isn’t quite ready. What Ron Burgundy might say smells like “rich mahogany and leather bound books” paints the picture of Asian fusion décor with a dynasty period time piece artwork hanging near the bathroom oozing diamonds and gold, except in this case its rubies and jade. A whiskey man cave replete with Cuban cigars and no apologies for it. This place does the most, but in a minimalist way if that makes any sense. There aren’t many places in Shanghai I’d like to revisit, but this is one of those.
Making my friends wait, as is my normal fashion, my friend and I take a seat at the bar and sip on some delectably crafted cocktails. The Choices are plentiful, which makes it hard to choose, but I finally settle on something or other and the bartender, who cannot be called that, facilitates that choice. No, he’s definitely a mixologist who will break down the ins and outs of your libation and not make you feel like a moron for it. Down the bitters and the taste profile, I feel like I’m at a funky new speak easy somewhere on the lower East side of Manhattan. I think I coined a new term that day. Shang-asmic. Day-um! That’s a first. Yes, this place has earned a revisit. Finally, I get to the table and the food takes center stage.
After a prompt and knowledgeable drink service, it’s easy to feel comfortable at the table. I order another cocktail, which the waiter politely recommends against. She explains that the bloody mary might be a bit bold on the palette like a Sichuan hot pot, which I ignore, and she was right… In any case, the food tastes perfect. The bread plate consists of warm fresh crispy baguette.
For starters, I have the caprese salad centering ‘burrata’ Italian cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes, topped off with arugula. Burrata cheese encases a creamier milkier consistency, so that when you cut into it, the cream filling seeps out onto the whole dish like a gooey pizza. Succulently balanced in flavor, the buttery blend of contrasting textures culminates in a sensory of delectable cheesy delight… Shang-asmic. Food-gasm…At the table? Excuse me a moment while I compose myself. Am I starting to paint the picture?
Next, a the well-seasoned citrus beef tartar sits on a bed of beef carpaccio capped additionally with crispy crisscrossed chips! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed friends for too long with anyone who didn’t absolutely love chips. The scallops came on a bed of orzo, and they were almost perfect! A bit undercooked for my taste, but still well seasoned, and cleaned the plate. And for the grand finale, a steak cooked medium well that of course was devoured in about 8 minutes flat. Café Gray Deluxe was to to die for, and after having written about it just now, I think I’ll call up a few friend and head over there tonight! If you come from out of town, and want to have a romantic date, go here. If you want to have a smooth business dinner and are at a loss for where to go, go here. Don’t know where to stay in Shanghai, stay here. The hotel rooms are minimalist, and who wouldn’t want to walk into this gorgeous light fixture everyday? The Middle House Collective. Get at me with your fine self.