Shanghai Brunch Review: The Carnivore's Club

By Betty Richardson, July 13, 2016

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Welcome to Brunch Review. This month’s column takes us all the way over to Mandarin Oriental Hotel's Fifty 8°Grill in Lujiazui, Pudong. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s the weekend, I’m starving; last thing I’m about to go do is schlep all the way over there.” Well, you should. Allow me to explain why. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

The brunch deal here is priced at RMB368 per person for three courses (RMB418 for four), including unlimited bone-in ribeye, roasted chicken, barbecued flank steak, salmon en croute and chorizo sausage, plus two additional courses and a side dish. Fittingly, this brunch is called ‘The Carnivore’s Club,’ and after eating it we can see why. 

The first course of the menu features appetizers from the Fifty 8’s seasonal summer menu, including crisp kaifiti pastry-wrapped frog’s legs, freshwater salmon gravlax and a ‘signature’ charcuterie board with chorizo, country pâte and a beautiful chicken liver parfait. The latter is topped with oxtail consommé aspic on top that melts in the mouth, while the parfait itself is flavored with cognac, Madeira wine and port. 

Egg dishes also make an appearance in this section, with which no brunch would be complete without. Poached eggs with avocado ‘salsa’ and cottage cheese are simple but a good place to start off lightly. 

Brunch Review Shangha

Altogether more decadent are the scrambled eggs with Camembert, roasted potato and shaved Yunnan truffle, a dish which Chef de Cuisine Phillip Taylor confesses is something he would make himself for breakfast while working in the kitchen. The secret is that the soft Camembert cheese melts at roughly the same temperature at which the eggs cook, making for a creamy yet even consistency. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

But enough of the starters, how does that free-flow meat thing work? Set up as a semi-buffet at one end of the restaurant, here you’ll find casserole dishes of hot roast chicken, a swirling wheel of sausage and a huge bone-in steak of the day. On our visit it was dry-aged, chargrilled Jack’s Creek côte de beouf (bone-in rib-eye) and it was exquisite. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

Chef Taylor tells us that the steak used will change occasionally, but will always be bone-in. This was great for us because quite honestly we can’t afford to eat bone-in steaks ordinarily (come on, media salary), since they’re usually for at least two people sharing and cost upwards of RMB1000. But the great thing about this brunch setup is that you’re sort of crowd sharing the cost of roasting such a huge cut of beef with everyone else partaking in the brunch – everyone gets bone-in rib-eye, everyone is happy. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

Also, you can go back to eat as much of it as you please. 

Meanwhile outside, a small barbecue smokes cheerfully with strips of sizzling flank steaks. Flank isn’t usually a cut we get excited about (it can be tough) but it does have the benefit of being quite a flavorsome part of the cow. Here the steaks are marinated in a tasty acidic chimichurri dressing (cilantro, vinegar, chili, lime) for 24 hours to break down the tougher tissue. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

We decided to be healthy and pair this with an heirloom tomato, basil and watermelon salad, but you could totally go for the Lyonnaise potato if you have the stomach space, smothered in onion gravy, bacon bits and what have you. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

Last but certainly not least are the desserts, which make up the penultimate course. Yogurt panna cotta with strawberry granita and chilled hibiscus tea is a light and delicate end to the meal, though if you’re like us, you won't be able to refuse the sultry call of peanut semifreddo. 

Brunch Review Shanghai

Halfway between an ice cream and a mousse, inside this little cylinder is a column of salted caramel sauce that spills out and mingles with the semifreddo and popcorn-flavored ice cream on top – I probably don’t need to tell you that this was freaking delicious. 

After this, a plate of hot from the oven madeleines appear on the table in lieu of petit fours, made to order for each table in mini ovens at the back of the restaurant. Away from the watchful gaze of the chefs, restaurant manager Pierre Papineau takes great pride in serving these himself, allowing them to become gently, well, burnt to enhance their texture and caramel flavor.  

Brunch Review Shanghai

A brunch recommended? For RMB368/418 per person, it’s hard to imagine getting a better deal on steak in Shanghai, and especially not of this caliber. Throw in the other courses and you have one of the most competitive dining deals we’ve found recently, somewhat ironically at one of Shanghai’s most high-end restaurants. 

Price: RMB368/418 per person, plus 10 percent service and prevailing taxes. 

Who’s going: locals, expats

Good for: steak, brunch, special occasions

The Carnivore's Club, RMB368/418 per person (plus 10 percent service and prevailing taxes), Sundays, 11.30am

See a listing for Fifty 8° Grill

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