When Brut Cake furniture store opened on Anfu Lu four years ago, people walking in kept asking, “Where are the cakes?” Clearly the owners saw an opportunity and came up with a new concept for the brand: a Melbourne-style café filled with the atelier’s very own furniture. Enter Brut Cake Café.
Operated by food blogger Priscilla Young and her chef husband Jun Wu with backing from renowned local roasters MQ Coffee, the compact space is a relaxed new addition to leafy Yuyuan Lu.
Furnished in a simple wooden style, furniture is rejuvenated from antiques pieces and brought to life with playful patchwork designs. They’re all available to buy for customers who form particular attachment with their seat, along with smaller home accessories too.
Lunch items on the weekday menu come in great value sets, each of which includes salad and a seasonal fruit bowl. Our recommendation is the healthy and mild red coco grain bowl (RMB62). Think kale, cauliflower and nori seaweed stewed with creamy red coconut curry atop hearty multi-grain rice and barley.
While the menu is very much Western-style café, Chef Jun makes interesting use of local ingredients. Case in point is the Chinese sausage Bolognese linguine (RMB62), a classic mince laced with julienned Cantonese sweet sausage and cheese.
It’s not a taste of Italy, but a creative bowl that will power the rest of your day. It’s best paired with a cup of fragrant MQ espresso-based coffee (RMB18-37), which are all 50 percent off with the lunch set.
The humble mantou bun also gets invited to Brut Cake’s party as part of the Brut manwich (RMB68).
Two pieces of Chinese steamed bun host a hefty Australian beef patty, onion jam and cheese. Tasty as it is, the mantou is a little too dense to supplant the classic burger bun, though the skinny hand-cut triple-cooked fries are definitely worth a try.
During lunchtime, the café is busy, but come weekends the popular all-day brunch means the place is positively packed. You have the sweet and savory fried chicken waffle (RMB78), spicy granny manwich (RMB72) and classic beer-battered Alaskan cod with fries (RMB75) to thank for that.
Food verdict: 2.5/3
Bright and modern, Brut Cake Café’s success seems to have followed EGG's pioneering efforts to solidify the presence of Melbourne-style cafés in Shanghai. Independent, supremely affordable and with chef-driven food (not to mention serious quantities of caffeine), we say concepts like this are the future of Western dining in Shanghai.
Vibe verdict: 1.5/2
Total verdict: 4/5
Price: RMB60-80 per person
Who’s going: expats, young people, families
Good for: groups, casual food, brunch
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