If you know me, you know how much I love breakfast. And you probably also know that I love weekend brunch even more (what could be better than sleeping in and then enjoying an indulgent meal?). As I learned, weekend brunch game in Shanghai is strong which means I arrived at the right place at the right time. After our plane touched down at 0530 a.m., we headed straight to the hotel to get some well-needed sleep, freshen up and head out of the door to eat at Table No. 1 by Daniel Atherton. Honestly, I’d been looking forward to this spot for over 2 weeks after seeing the photos of their mouthwatering brunch offerings on Instagram.
Housed within a urban-decay-themed boutique hotel The Waterhouse – a restored former dock warehouse and military building from the 1930s – the restaurant was not exactly easy to locate. The entire area of the Cool Docks development area of the Shanghai Bund is currently one big construction site. Since the hotel itself looks like an abandoned warehouse, with its industrial décor (or lack thereof), it is easy to pass it without giving it a second thought. The interior design of the hotel matches its façade. Think dust, concrete stains, crumbling concrete pillars, and exposed aging bricks. The effect is softened with an eclectic collection of furniture and contemporary art works that give a splash and dash of color.
Décor in the restaurant is minimalist as well featuring raw grey brick floor, leather couches, rough dark wood tables and floor-to-ceiling windows. They also have a nice outdoor space in the narrow hotel courtyard.
Table No. 1 itself is a project of the Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, who worked alongside Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, and Gordon Ramsay before launching a few of his own successful restaurants around the world.
The menu is varied with enticing breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner offerings. The food seems to pack a feel-good comfort – an influence of the Chef de Cuisine Christopher Pitts. They’ve got a range of delicious fare on the brunch menu, with highlights such as eggs benedict, eggs on toast with your choice of sides, BBQ pork shoulder on a toast, steak and fried egg with roasted tomatoes, pancakes and French toast, just to name the few. While the dishes are meant to be shared, we both felt pretty famished and ordered an individual egg course, with a French toast to share.
We didn’t have to wait long to be served. Justin’s perfectly poached eggs were served on a toast with a generous side of crispy bacon which he polished off in no time. My choice of Chef’s Choice Eggs Benedict turned out to be “a bit” more extravagant with Wagyu brisket, house bacon, and pickled lime complete with beautifully roasted cherry tomatoes on vine. Yes, a total caloric mess and no, I didn’t eat it all. It definitely ideal for sharing, unless you are a sumo wrestler vacationing in Shanghai. Then you can handle it on your own.
The eggs were a perfection: runny and dressed in classic hollandaise which brought a hint of lemon. Pickled lime on top added a wonderful zesty flavor and the bacon was nice and crispy. However, I was a bit disappointed by the wagyu brisket which came in the form of diced cubes. The meat had been marinated and cooked to death with a BBQ/coffee glaze. While the flavors were tasty, the choice of preparation killed off any chance of tasting the tenderness and marbled fats (if any) of the meat. Honestly, it wouldn’t matter whether there was a real wagyu or a regular beef cut on your plate. Next time, I’d opt for a classic Eggs Royale instead: two poached eggs on an English muffin served with smoked salmon.
Justin and I eagerly dived into our plate of French toast with orange marmalade, which looked as a real piece de resistance. It was topped with perfectly cooked foie gras for extra decadence. The interior of the toast was soft and fluffy, with the edges slightly moist from the egg wash. The orange marmalade was a tad too sweet although it paired wonderfully with foie and the bread. The sweetness was balanced off nicely by the perfectly airy clotted cream. I washed it all down with a cup of latte and was ready to take on Shanghai.
Overall, the brunch here was quite pleasant. Sadly, the personnel seemed a bit absent-minded and inattentive, but I was warned to lower my expectations of customer service during my trip to mainland China, so this didn’t come as a surprise (disappointing nevertheless). Funnily enough we visited Jason Atherton’s another restaurant The Commune Social the same night – undoubtedly a memorable dinner which I will write about in my next post of the China trip series.
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