30 Sinan Lu (思南路30号)
Ahhhhhh…. HoF……. where do I even start?
If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I have an insatiable obsession for HoF. I think about it almost daily, generally fantasizing over their Orange chocolate cake with caramel and sea salt, helped along by the fact they are walking distance from where we live ;) To me, HoF is the epitome of a nice dining experience. A warm, hospitable owner, top-notch service staff, and flat out freakin’ amazing food/desserts.
HoF is a dessert and cocktail lounge, officially, though I keep telling everyone their food is excellent and they should go there for lunch or dinner as well, and not just for dessert and drinks. Moody and intimate with low lighting and candles, the atmosphere and staff are anything but snooty, and in fact the place has a relaxed, warm vibe. I also have to point out that Brian Tan, the owner, has a knack for hiring really good looking staff :P One time I went, there was a tall Chinese guy that looked like he’d stepped out of the pages of a magazine. This time, there was another pretty good looking Chinese head waiter that was incredibly nice to us, and a cute Singaporean guy behind the desserts counter. Very nice eye candy for the girls ;)
So Diningsecretary.com’s Shau-Ru and I were there on a Friday night to treat ourselves with delish food. We kicked off with a Tapenade and parmesan bruschetta, which came on 6 little slices of baguette. The tapenade was generously slathered on the bruschetta, but there was only a teeny flake of Parmesan cheese on top, leaving me wishing there was more of the cheese because it cut through the sharpness and saltiness of the tapenade perfectly. I was impressed that the tapenade wasn’t overly salty and the portion size was impressive.
The Baked penne pasta with chicken and cheese (48元) is one of my favourite dishes there. It’s a big hunk of baked pasta that’s smothered in cheese and a tomato salsa (with an extra dollop placed on top for good measure). It also comes with a small grain bun and a side salad. The baked pasta is comfort food at it’s finest, with a beautiful tart tomato flavour off-set with the creaminess of the cheese and pasta. Divine.
I’m totally impressed with the Croque Madame – grilled sandwich with ham, bechamel, gratin cheese and topped with 2 eggs (58元), which is easily the BEST Croque Madame I’ve had in Shanghai. Even more so when you factor in the portion size and price! 2 thin slices of bread (and no, they don’t just use cheap white toast) sandwiching ham and creamy bechamel, and covered with grilled cheese. Sitting on top are 2 perfectly cooked sunny-side-up eggs, and with one poke of a fork, creamy yolk that oozes out onto the bread below to make a decadent luscious meal.
We both picked the same dessert each, Orange chocolate mud cake with caramel and sea salt (35元). MY #1 FAVOURITE DESSERT IN SHANGHAI. It’s such a simple concept – a chocolate cake – but it’s executed so perfectly that I keep ordering it each time. I’ve tried to re-create this at home and can’t – so either I’m just a crap dessert-maker, or my ingredients aren’t high quality enough ;) HoF’s version is an incredibly moist and rich mud cake that’s tinged with a very subtle orange flavour. Gooey caramel is draped on top (I always ask for my cake warmed up, so the caramel melts) and it’s finished with a sprinkle of quality sea salt – sounds strange, but offsets the sweetness of the dessert well. It’s, quite simply, perfection. I’ve tried every single one of HoF’s desserts and this one still comes out on top. I do wish they’d serve larger slices, but that’s just me, I just can’t get enough of it ;)
On a whim, I decided to get a scoop of Vanilla bean gelato (19元) with it. I really enjoyed the cold creamy ice cream against the warm sweetness of the chocolate cake, and will get that combination next time. Finally, I topped off the meal with a Iced chocolate freeze (38元), that I got “take away” so it’s not pictured. This drink is my favourite drink at HoF, even better than their hot chocolates IMHO. Served in a tall glass, it’s unlike other chocolate milkshakes because they use quality chocolate and whip it with scoops of ice cream. It’s creamy, very chocolately, and simply delicious. Perfection on a warm summer’s day.
As we were walking out, we noticed a tray of Profiteroles with shaved chocolate and custard sitting on the counter top. Being nosy, we scurried over and peered at them, trying to figure out what was inside and if they were for sale. The head waiter there saw us fussing around there and promptly gave us one each to try out! :) :) :) Oh happiness! The outside was buttery chox pastry, more soft textured than crispy or flakey. Inside was rich creamy chocolate mixed with custard. A lovely pop-in-your-mouth dessert.
The best part? The prices are incredibly reasonable considering the quality important ingredients, the perfection of the food, and the ambience of the place. It’s why I’m always back.. seemingly on a weekly basis ;) In fact, I’m already planning on booking the place out to throw my birthday party in October.. so all of my friends can stuff themselves silly with fantastic desserts :P
Their dessert bar. The big cake in the middle? That’s my favourite
Orange chocolate mud cake with caramel and sea salt :)
Tapenade and parmesan bruschetta
Baked penne pasta with chicken and cheese (48元)
Croque Madame – grilled sandwich with ham, bechamel, gratin cheese
and topped with 2 eggs (58元)
Vanilla bean gelato (19元)
Orange chocolate mud cake with caramel and sea salt (35元)
Profiteroles with shaved chocolate and custard
Pleased as punch