3 New Fall Menus: Highline, La Barra & Madam Zhu's

By Sophie Steiner, December 20, 2021

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It’s that time of the year again when summer slips into fall, T-shirts are quickly replaced by sweaters and – all too soon – thick jackets. Still, what better excuse to tuck into cold weather comforts than our bellies being hidden for the next six months? Here’s some of the new menus we’re gearing up to hibernate with as the impending chill sets in. 

Check out Part I herePart II here and Part III here.

Highline

Situated on the Ascott's sprawling balcony, with quite possibly one of the best views in Shanghai, sits Highline – a restaurant and lounge bar with sexy interiors that lend themselves to nights out and formal occasions alike. Our most recent visit, however, was for none other than their seasonally upgraded brunch. 

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Highline has recently revamped all of their menus – brunch, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea included, with a new cocktail menu designed by Michael Chen set to launch in January.

Chef Anna Bautista is behind the food upgrades, with a focus on seasonal ingredients, all to the backdrop of festive décor both inside and out. Expect a full-on dose of deep snow, a silver-covered pine forest and a snow lodge with alpine flair, all centered around a blazing outdoor fireplace. 

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Starting with Roasted Pumpkin and Burrata (RMB128), soft caramelized chunks of candy are encircled by stretchy pulls of fresh burrata cheese, roasted grapes, tart cranberries and swirls of Bayonne ham. 

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Creamy Smoked Salmon Rillete (RMB128) is studded with Baerii caviar and a lashing of dill sour cream, served with house made potato crisps.

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Springy Tiger Shrimp & Uni (RMB148) is presented like a deconstructed prawn cocktail, slathered in a light horseradish-smoked pepper aioli and served with a mixed salad of ripe avocado, cherry tomato and cucumber slices.

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But the banger of the bunch came as bite-size morsels of Tuna Poke Crisp (RMB108). A blend of rough chopped raw salmon, tart pineapple and nori is tossed in spicy tobiko aioli and perched, dome-like, atop squid ink puffs, then encircled by perilla leaf for an earthy hit of herbaceous that rounds out a balanced finish. 

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A go-to option year-round, the Highline Club Sandwich (RMB128) is the epitome of one stacked sando, mounted high with grilled chicken, crispy bacon, mortadella, mashed avocado and a tangy sundried tomato and artichoke spread, all smashed between a triple stacked layer of toasted white bread.

And of course, fries. Twice fried and perfectly crispy.

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Half a lobster adorns the Lobster Uni Linguini (RMB338)– expertly al dente noodles, sauced in in cognac cream and dusted with tarragon. 

DSC06139.jpgHalf Roasted Chicken (RMB248), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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And for the anti-brunchers that just crave meat, meat, meat, there’s always the Bavette Steak Frites (RMB188), a 200-gram portion of Australian Angus M3. Known in the US as flank steak, this flat cut of meat is taken from the abdominal muscles of the cow, with very fine intramuscular fat, making it prone to overcooking.

At Highline, it’s seared quickly over ultra-high heat to achieve a perfectly medium rare steak that is thoroughly rosy, except at the edges, which are charred with a crunchy, salt and pepper-flecked crust. We suggest upgrading to the sweet potato fries.  

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When it comes to sweets, Highline beyond nails it, with decorative desserts and saccharine brunch offerings for those needing that next sugar hit. The thick-cut Pumpkin Custard French Toast (RMB98) is all that is good in this world, with smoky caramelized lardon bacon bits, a brown sugar butter crumble and candied pumpkin seeds. 

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Instead of the customary tiramisu setup, the Hazelnut Tiramisu (RMB88) takes this all-time dessert champion up a notch with chocolate coffee sponge cake and a Frangelico hazelnut mascarpone cream. Oh, and the top is sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts and honeycomb. There is nothing not to like here. 

DSC06193.jpgStrawberry Eton Mess (RMB78), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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But a visit to Highline with all of the above would still be for naught if you skip the Warm Chocolate S’mores (RMB98).

The rich molten dark chocolate cake is anchored by toasted marshmallow fluff and a quenelle of caramel ice cream, accented by a sprinkle of crushed graham cracker cookies, macadamia nuts and – get this – a booming crackle of popping candy, emulating the spitting campfire from which s’mores usually emerge. 

And then you pour bubbling hot chocolate sauce over the top while thanking your lucky stars you came to Highline for a contender for one of the best brunches in town. 

See a listing for Highline

La Barra 

As if the Armada Group didn’t already have enough going for it (a café, a club, a Spanish restaurant meets wine bar, a mezcal bar and day-into-late-night tacos, all under one roof), they are now adding Lazy Sunday Brunch at La Barra to the lineup. 

And you can bet all the money in the bank that it involves Champagne. (Spoiler alert: the champagne flows).

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The brunch selections are divided into eggs and sweets, with Spanish leaning influences coming through in dishes like Sunny Side up With Bacon & Bread (RMB88), a version of huevos divorciados, with green and red salsa, bacon and toast for sopping up every last lick of saucy goodness on the plate.

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The Truffled Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms (RMB98) are – plain and simple – fluffy AF eggs, topped with oh-so-much shaved black truffle and more sautéed mushrooms to boot. This should be renamed ‘hangover cure in a bowl.’ Just a suggestion. 

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Octopus Skewers (RMB128), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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Other egg plates are pure brunch staples – Eggs Benedict with Salmon (RMB78) topped with glistening beads of roe and an Omelette (RMB88) stuffed with cured chorizo and shaved parmesan. 

DSC05431.jpgParmesan Crackers & Guacamole (RMB88), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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But brunch isn’t brunch without some sugar, and that’s where the Cream & Berries (RMB48) comes in. Whipped cream, yogurt ice cream, seasonal berries and a honeycomb crumble – we need nothing more. 

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Wait, we take that back; an order of the Pancakes (RMB68) – a trio of stacked griddle cakes topped with brûléed banana and a shmear of Nutella – and the Hazelnut Bomb (RMB72) – an orange citrus cake stuffed with cream and a white chocolate crown – are both a must. 

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If you’re coming to La Barra, we all know drinks play a mandatory role, and for that there are two free flow drink packages running every Sunday from 1-3.30pm – Premium (RMB328) with unlimited selected cava, white and red wine, frozen mezcal margaritas, aperol spritz, bloody mary, Moscow mule, a Botanist G&T DIY bar with all the fixings and beer; or Luxury (RMB528) that includes the same with the addition of unlimited Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne. 

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Oh and did we mention there’s an oyster bar? 

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Other a la carte options that are available all the time (so you don’t have to just wait for God’s day) span Boquerones on Toast (RMB45) to hibiscus dyed Spring Rolls (RMB 68) filled with orange segments and seasonal vegetables.

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We also never tire of the Tuna Tostadas (RMB88) served in crunchy masa shells and loaded to the brim with cubed raw tuna, buttery chunks of avocado and a liberal drizzle of chipotle aioli – brunch to late night, you will always find an order of these on our table.  

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See a listing for La Barra

Madam Zhu's Kitchen Reserve

Madam Zhu is opening her sixth location in Shanghai, a higher end version of the other five locations, affording it the name of Madam Zhu's Kitchen Reserve.

The menu shares about half the same dishes with the other locations, and the other half can only be found at the new Ruihong Tiandi Sun Palace shopping complex that just opened in October in Hongkou. 

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The menu is pan-Chinese, with classic Shanghainese, Beijing and Sichuan dishes being the most prominent, along with a smattering of other regional dishes. 

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The restaurant's Signature Roast Duck (RMB238) is a signature for a reason. Carved tableside, perfect squares of crispy skin are placed a top puffed white bread, adorned with glistening beads of caviar.

Next, the rest of the bird is carved, served Beijing kaoya style, with thin pancakes, a spicy mix, cucumber, onion and melon slices and sweet tian mian jiang, or a sweet fermented soybean sauce.

Finally, the remaining bones are brought back to the kitchen, fried with spices and served again for some end-of-the-meal snacking. 

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A Sichuan favorite, the Sliced Pork Belly with Garlic Sauce (RMB59) sees paper thin slivers of pork belly rolled like waves around crisp cucumber, drizzled with chili oil and a generous spoonful of chopped garlic. 

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Roaming over to the lower Yangtze region, the Smoked Pomfret (RMB68) – commonly eaten in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and neighboring areas – is a serving of fried fish coated in a sticky vinegar and sugar-based sauce that is then smoked. The crispy exterior is the draw, along with the chewy, jerky-like texture the fish takes on. 

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Other delectable sharing plates like Braised Octopus (RMB88) and Baked Lanzhou Lily Bulb in Braised Sauce (RMB78) bring together ingredients sourced from around the country to make palate pleasing favorites. 

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Another stand-out bite, especially for larger groups, is the Steamed Hand-beaten Aged Tangerine Peel Meat Patty and Crab (RMB580) – a behemoth of a crab, steamed atop a springy patty made from pork, vegetables and tangerine peal. The savory soy sauce brings together this local riff on surf'n'turf. 

See a listing for Madam Zhu's Kitchen Reserve

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Got an F&B company you would like to promote? Contact us by email on billyxian@thatsmags.com and by WeChat through the ID: billyjunior317 or by scanning the QR code below:

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[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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