1/F, Shanghai Center,
1376 Nanjing Xi Lu
There’s nothing I love more than a good ‘ol slab of ribs. Well, alongside big burger & fries or a luscious pizza, that is. And in my mind, Tony Roma’s do one of the nicest ribs – at least in the Tony Roma’s that I’ve had around the world. They’re also in Shanghai, though we hadn’t had the chance to check it out yet. And so we did :)
Stepping into the restaurant feels like stepping into an American restaurant/diner. It doesn’t feel like you’re in China at all! Well, apart from the odd Chinese New Year decorations that were still left hanging around. The staff were friendly and competent, and there were expats as well as Asians chowing down. It’s cosy without feeling cramped, though the decor is all a little old and slightly bedraggled.
We’re delighted that we’re served with a complimentary bread roll with plain butter and herbed butter. I don’t see this often in Shanghai, so it was a nice touch. The bread roll, however, was a small one (are we meant to fight over this??) and a cheap roll, nothing handmade or special about it. Fortunately, the garlic herbed butter is delicious, so we heap a ton onto our bread roll rations.
The highlight is, of course, the St Louis-Style Ribs (regular slab) with Blue Ridge Smokies sauce. The St Louis-style ribs are meant to be a very special cut of spare ribs, ranking high in the thick, juicy and meaty departments. Well, they were right!! Initially I was a little concerned as the ribs 1) looked a little small/thin, and 2) looked a bit dry. However, they fell apart when I cut them and the meat was tender and delicious. The smokey flavour of the sauce was in perfect proportion so it didn’t drench out the flavour of the ribs itself, and it was a fantastic, meaty meal. It came with a small side of coleslaw (nothing interesting) and 2 corn-on-the-cobs (delicious slathered with their garlic herb butter).
The Chicken Philly Sandwich was also a delight. A marinated chicken breast topped with mushrooms, onions and Monterey Jack cheese, it came happily SMOTHERED with the cheese. The sandwich was so filling, with the chicken breast still tender and juicy, and with a more-than-generous amount of mushrooms. The coleslaw side was, again, unexciting. The fries were also a little dry.
A surprisingly great meal, which we weren’t expecting – thinking it’d be an American chain that falls flat in Shanghai due to serving up sub-par food and sloppy service. The only downside is that it’s not worth the price. I don’t know how they justify the prices, but it’s the prices of a very fine meal in a classy restaurant in Shanghai. Yet Tony Roma’s is a casual, family-style cafe. For that reason, we probably won’t be back.
Some sort of cocktail (I forgot!)
Complimentary bread roll with plain butter and herbed butter
St Louis-Style Ribs (regular slab) with Blue Ridge Smokies sauce
Chicken Philly Sandwich