[Shanghai] Fine Café & Canteen

Fine Café & Canteen

Add: 192 Wu Lu Mu Qi Zhong Road, Shanghai 乌鲁木齐中路192号
Tel: n/a
Hours: Mon-Sun 8:00am-8:00pm
Price: RMB75-150
Visited: May 2017
Will return: Maybe

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A cozy little spot on a quiet stretch of Wulumuqi Road, Fine Café has been attracting much attention since it opened two months ago. The space is a little tight, but filled with interesting details, its soft lights warm and comforting.

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After passing it by half a dozen times and finding it packed every single time, I finally decided to look into their menu.

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The chef-owner is apparently known for her pancakes, which make up the better part of the food menu. A standout was the sea salt, chocolate, and banana pancakes. The pancake batter was rich and chocolatey, with just enough sea salt to keep the decadent creation from weighing you down. The strawberry and cream pancakes was less exciting, but remained a crowd favorite, the simple plate made exceptional by the soft mound of gently whipped cream on top.

IMG_2535-EditIMG_2546-EditSea salt, chocolate, and banana pancakes (48)

IMG_1163-EditIMG_1173-EditStrawberry and cream pancakes (48)

Savory pancakes are also available, such as the popular salmon and poached egg pancakes. It took me a minute to warm up to the combination of sweet pancakes and salty salmon, but the marriage had a strange sort of comfort. Although I wished the hollandaise was more tangy to cut through the sweet pancakes, the plate was still quite pleasant.

IMG_1191-EditSalmon and poached egg pancakes (58)

The sour cream and bacon pancakes, on the other hand, leaned further towards the sweet side than I would have liked, the already sweet batter turning almost cloying when met with the influence of glazed bacon and honey syrup. The plate would benefit much from a more generous slather of sour cream to balance the sweetness.

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Even though pancakes make up most of the menu, there are also several kinds of sandwiches on offer. The bacon, egg, and avocado sandwich was no more than the sum of its parts, although they were pretty good parts. The scrambled eggs were fluffy and tender and the bacon just the right touch of sweet, but the avocado cream was a little too easy to miss.

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Aside from these pancakes and sandwiches, there is also a special brunch menu for weekends that includes eggs Benedict, English breakfast, and so on. However, the line outside the café on weekends is crazy, and I haven’t been inspired enough by their regular menu to impose a two-hour wait upon myself.

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The place is a lot less frantic if you go in the afternoon, and Fine Café provides a good selection of drinks to while away the afternoon – although the lack of WiFi may be an impediment for those looking for a place to work.

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Their pour-over coffee was quite decent, but I was more impressed with their espresso drinks. Using single origin Yirgacheffe beans, their latte and flat white were both surprisingly smooth and light.

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Non-coffee options are also offered, but I would skip the matcha latte. The cup was rather bland as matcha lattes go, but at the same time left a strange and faintly metallic aftertaste in my mouth. I found the drink more palatable after the matcha powder had settled into sediments at the bottom of the cup – I’ll just leave it at that.

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Instead, go for their house-made flavored sodas. The beautiful glass of berries soda tasted as bright and refreshing as it looked, the pleasantly light fizz sure to chase away the summer heat.

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Fine Café also serves a small selection of cakes. The lemon pound cake was welcoming in its fragrance, but large parts of it were unfortunately dry and crumbly, the airy whipped cream on top its only saving grace.

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Overall, the food at Fine Café was pleasant enough, though certainly not worth waiting two hours for. But if you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood, Fine Café is a decent spot for a casual meal or a quiet afternoon.

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