Nestled in a newly opened complex on Hengshan Lu, Crafted is a casual mid-range restaurant brought to us by the very same folks responsible for Bistro Burger, which enjoys a rightful reputation for having some of the heftiest hanbaos and milkshakes in town.
Keen to step out of the burger box, Crafted offers three specialties: seafood, ribs and burgers. Ok, they’re not that keen on stepping out of the box.
We love the shakes over at Bistro Burger, and fellow fans will notice several favorites from the menu available at Crafted. Like Bistro Burger’s, they’re really well made, bolstered with imported Australian ice cream and topped whipped cream.
Despite being the same price, they’re also considerably smaller, owing to the fact that the tall sundae glasses have been swapped for half-filled trendy copper mugs.
Is that really necessary? The types of people who order 'Oreo Mudslide' shakes with crumbled cookies, chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream (read: us) probably aren't preoccupied with keeping up hipster appearances.
‘Cocktail milk shakes’ (all RMB50) are smaller still, gussied up into long-stemmed steel cups. Taste-wise we couldn’t fault the refreshing and thick chocolate, mint and Bailey’s shake, which outshone the comparatively sweet Frangelico and chocolate number.
Taking a hint from Crafted’s tagline, we scan the menu for a burger (there are two); ‘Double Cheese Bacon Burger’ (RMB88) was decent but nothing to write home. Again, a contrast to the generous and great value burgers at Bistro Burger.
Ribs (RMB88/158) prove another Achilles’ heel for Crafted. On our first visit they are dry and under-seasoned, with a haggard appearance and congealed fattiness that made us suspect they had been cooked sometime last century. We also regretted forking out an extra RMB10 for a 'pineapple salad' that transpired to be a distressed clump of leaves with two chunks of fruit in it.
On visit two the flavor had improved dramatically, though the portion size had reduced to mini proportions (fork for scale) Seriously, these ribs put the ‘baby’ in baby back.
Luckily, Crafted has a secret weapon in its arsenal: lobster mac ‘n’ cheese (RMB158).
Lackluster the first occasion we order this, by the second time it was clear that they’d gotten the hang of it, namely by smothering huge amounts of cheese on top (has that ever not worked?) Although the lobster meat was tough as an old shoe, the flavor of the cheese sauce and still-al dente pasta shells were really delicious.
Further shoe-like textures made an appearance in the pork belly sandwich (RMB78). The pork itself was tender and juicy, it seemed to be begging for freedom from its oppressive flat bread prison.
Food Verdict: 1.5/3
Crafted has a lot of work to do if it is to entice fans of Bistro Burger to visit for what is essentially more money, smaller milkshakes and less selection of burgers.
However, the restaurant does have an extremely pleasant rooftop terrace going for it, though our waitress refused to let us sit on it during our second visit, citing "hot weather" and "too few customers" to make climbing the short staircase an agreeable task for her. Nevertheless, other wait staff are cordial and friendly.
Vibe Verdict: 1/2
Total Verdict: 2.5/5
Price: RMB200-250 per person
Who’s going: mainly locals
Good for: casual dining, al fresco, family friendly
See a listing for Crafted by Bistro Burger
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