Set across three floors of a beautiful villa in the former French Concession, this enduring Shanghai favourite is strictly reservations only. The subtly lit black and scarlet interior is embellished with lanterns and ethnic artworks by the Dai, Bai and Miao peoples of South-western Yunnan province. The menu fuses the cooking styles and ingredients of the Yunnan alpine mountains and neighbouring Burma and Thailand. Although portions are hearty, the spicy-sour jizhong mushroom salad and Burmese Beef Curry will leave you craving for more.
Insider Tip: Check out the specially commissioned landscape photos of mountainous Yunnan province on the upper floor.
Enigmatic French chef Paul Pairet’s fashionable restaurant is among Shanghai’s top tables. An eclectic crowd of Shanghai celebrities, expats and visitors fill its historic dining hall each night to savour an eccentrically huge menu that veers from Pairet’s offbeat molecular gastronomy (think fragrant lobster risotto with basil, lemon-liquorice and dough fritters) to Asian-infused modern European fare (black cod simmered in a heat proof bag with Cantonese sauce). The brightly-coloured cocktail bar enlivens the heritage building setting, and the window tables yield romantic views over the Huangpu river.
Insider Tip: The restaurant boutique sells take-home goodies such as baguettes, homemade pate de campagne and chocolate cake.
Shanghai gourmands adore the seductively spicy flavours of Sichuan cuisine, and this smart yet affordable restaurant updates the genre for packed crowds each evening. It’s decorated like an updated 1930s Shanghai cafe, with retro framed ads on the walls and automated Chinese fans swinging over the bar counter. Pepper-laden Sichuan hotpots and noodle dishes, plus a zingy kung pao chicken and a hearty mapo tofu feature on the menu. Wash it all down with an ice cold beer, or one of the excellent cocktails – the Basil Drop is the top pick!
Insider Tip: Sichuan cuisine can be very meaty, but vegetarian versions of several dishes are served on request.
Jason Atherton’s second Shanghai restaurant was 2013’s buzziest opening. Helmed by husband-wife chef team Scott Melvin and Kim Lyle, it occupies a restyled 1920s police station north of downtown. Each course is served in a different part of the dining room, which is set around a redbrick inner courtyard. The kitchen-style Tapas Bar serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes, such as seared tuna salad served with miso, eggplant and a sherry dressing, while sweet treats at the Dessert Bar include green tea cake with yuzu, yogurt and raspberries.
Insider Tip: They do not accept reservations, so arrive early and order a London Julep cocktail at the rooftop bar while you wait.
This authentic French bistrot is, naturally, located in the heart of Shanghai’s leafy former French concession. Decorated with vintage film posters, brasserie-style tables and Art Deco armchairs, Franck’s homage to Parisian bistro culture is accompanied by a sultry jazz soundtrack and a chalkboard menu du jour handwritten daily in French. Classic Gallic dishes such as cote de boeuf, poulet roti, confit de canard and a killer creme brulee are complemented by a wine list of around 300 leading French labels.
Insider Tip: Stop by its adjacent sibling outlet Farine for divine croissants and pastries.