Downstairs by David Laris
183 Jiaozhou Lu (胶州路183号)
Downstairs is David Laris’ new restaurant, and I felt compelled to go check it out because he’s Australian. They’re all about “smart and sustainable living”, with wall made of recycled boat planks, and eco-friendly furniture, etc. The ambience is very Melbourne-style, and I felt like I wasn’t in China. It was raining so unfortunately we couldn’t sit outside in their lovely bamboo-surrounded patio, but at least we were cool, comfortable and dry indoors and the large floor-to-ceiling glass panels letting in natural light made us still feel like we were outdoors.
The menu is limited, but all the dishes looked interesting. We were surprised that the prices were pretty reasonable. However, we soon realised why – the portions are tiny. I would say they’re appetizer size, no where near filling enough to be a normal meal. A bit disappointing, as the food was excellent. If the portions were double the size, this place would easily have scored a full 5 star rating.
We kicked off with some Hot chocolate with Valrhona chocolate chunks and marshmallows (40元). “It comes in a bowl!” we noted with glee. Even better yet, it’s also served with a small pot of Valrhona chocolate chunks that you can stir into the hot chocolate to make it even richer. It’s the best hot chocolate I’ve had in Shanghai – no competition there. However, there were no marshmallows as stated on the menu – not sure if they forgot, or the marshmallows were melted in?
The Homemade whole wheat crumpets with smoked trout, creme fraiche and herbs (75元) were stunningly small given the price. It was 2 wee discs, less than half the size of your palm. But man they were divine – creamy, not too salty and just perfection. MORE, please!
Fortunately the Eggs benedict with slow roasted tomato (75元) was a little bigger in size, or at least more filling. I didn’t try any, but the eggs looked perfectly poached and the creamy hollandaise sauce positively luscious.
I adored the Roasted field mushroom with grilled Taleggio cheese, arugula and truffle oil (62元). It came on just one small slice of bread with 2 mushrooms on top, but they were packed with flavour and the grilled Taleggio cheese lent the perfect salty, gooey flavour to the dish. A totally simple dish with simple ingredients, but it worked.
We had a delicious brunch here and it was a pleasure kicking back and pretending that we weren’t in China, but back in Australia. If only they would increase the portion sizes, they we would leave with bellies satisfied :)
Pretty bamboo outside Downstairs
The spacious, laid back interior
Very cool central bar
The big bowl of Hot chocolate with Valrhona chocolate chunks and marshmallows (40元)
Homemade whole wheat crumpets with smoked trout, creme fraiche and herbs (75元)
Eggs benedict with slow roasted tomato (75元)
Roasted field mushroom with grilled Taleggio cheese, arugula and truffle oil (62元)