Brut Cake Café
Add: 698 Yu Yuan Road, Shanghai 愚园路698号
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-9:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-8:00pm
Price: [coffee] RMB18-40; [lunch/dinner set] RMB48-72; [brunch] RMB55-78
Visited: February 2017
Will return: Definitely
Shanghai’s coffee scene has been positively booming over the last few years, but there is still a considerable void then it comes to the kind of cafes you’d find in New York that do light meals as well as they do coffee and sweets.
Enter Brut Cake Café, a charming, light-filled space sitting on a quiet intersection on Yu Yuan Road. Brut Cake Café is helmed by F&B power-couple Priscilla and Jun, so it should come as no surprise that their food offerings pack some serious quality.
The brunch menu has attracted a crowd right from the first weekend. These days, you’d find people sitting on the front steps waiting for a table as early as 11am. Their signature chicken & waffle is a must order. Generous chunks of chicken are marinated with six spices and fried to crunchy, juicy perfection, heaped over a wonderfully crisp shell of a waffle with a soft, airy center, and finished with candied walnuts and honey. The waffle makes a second appearance in the Sweet Sunrise, topped with mascarpone chantilly, organic jujube honey, homemade strawberry jam, and a tart lemon curd.
Sweet & Savory: 6-spice fried chicken, crispy waffle, sweet walnuts, organic jujube honey (78)
Sweet Sunrise: crispy waffle, mascarpone chantilly, organic jujube honey, seasonal fruit jam, almonds (55)
Equally indulgent, the Codmother has moist and flaky beer-battered cod stacked over thin strips of triple-cooked fries.
Codmother: beer-battered Atlantic cod, triple-cooked fries, tomato jam, roasted garlic aioli, coleslaw (75)
If you’d rather kick-start your weekend with something lighter, Brut Cake Café serves a mean avocado toast called the Green Tartine. The guacamole is rather dull in color, but decidedly not so in flavor, its bold, tangy acidity softened by the onsen egg on top. Its red counterpart – named the Red Tartine, naturally – is just as delicious, topped with curls of smoked salmon and a delicious, creamy white bean mash.
Green Tartine: guacamole, organic Japanese onsen egg, radicchio, sourdough (62)
Red Tartine: smoked salmon, white bean purée, arugula, sourdough (72)
For weekdays, the menu centers around simple, hearty fare such as pasta, grain bowls, and burgers, all done with an Asian twist. An Italian linguine Bolognese meets some Cantonese influence with slivers of sweet Chinese sausage. A bowl of penne is coated with a pesto made with bok choy and cashews, and topped with shreds of tender duck thigh.
North Beach: Chinese sausage, beef Bolognese, cheese, linguine (62)
Green Canard: shredded duck thigh, roasted garlic aioli, bok choy garlic pesto, penne (65)
Burgers – dubbed “Manwich” – are served on mantou buns, the chewy texture a surprising but welcome departure from the more traditional soft buns. There is also a spicy variation, with a Lao Gan Ma infused mayo bringing on the heat.
Brut Manwich: Australian beef patty, onion jam, cheese (68)
But my favorite is their moreish grain bowls, tasty and comforting in equal measure. The Express sees the everyday beef and potato stew reworked with shrimp paste and green chili, giving this homey staple an unexpected vibrancy and modernity. The Filipino chicken adobo is also tender and deeply flavorsome.
The Express: grass-fed beef flank and shrimp paste stew, green chili, pickled vegetables (68)
Sour Bird: Filipino chicken adobo, crispy skin, carrot, roasted garlic aioli (65)
Coffee is, of course, indispensable, and Brut Cake Café offers excellent espresso drinks and single origin drip coffees, all served in their signature face mugs, every single one drawn by hand and therefore completely unique.
Caffeine-free creations are also available, such as matcha green tea latte and red velvet hot chocolate, as well as fresh juice and some interesting blends of organic herbal tea.
Matcha green tea latte; red velvet hot chocolate (35)
It would be remiss of me to talk about Brut Cake Café without mentioning the interior design. A collaboration with Brut Cake on An Fu road, Brut Cake Café serves as something of a showroom for the designer lifestyle brand. Virtually everything at the café – from the furniture and tableware to the aprons worn by the team – is designed and made by Brut Cake.
With its fantastic menu and warm, inviting ambiance, Brut Cake Café is a truly exciting addition to Shanghai’s coffee and dining scene. Whether you’re looking for a delicious brunch with friends, a quick solo meal, or just a good cup of coffee and a quiet place to work, Brut Cake Café will deliver.