18 Dongping Lu (东平路18号)
I’ve heard SO much about Azul Viva’s “fantastic brunch” so we finally managed to make our way there on a rainy Sunday. I’ve been there twice before but for their tapas dinner, which was generally pretty good. I like their crisp yet relaxed ambience and the polite, English-speaking staff, and was keen to see what they were like during the day for brunch.
I’m really glad we booked, because they were a full house! I suppose it’s the expat brunch haven in Shanghai ;) At 130元 for 2-courses or 150元 for 3-courses, they’re also touted to be fantastic value. So, is that true? Well, yes and no.
I would say first of all that the ingredients are not super-high quality, expensive ingredients, like our flat-out impressive brunch at Cristal. However, Azul’s brunch set is cheaper (though only very slightly) so you could argue it’s fair. Also, I wouldn’t say they’re extremely filling – rather, yes, you’ll be sufficiently full if you order all the carb meals, but only semi-full if you don’t.
We started off with a Sangria, which was just OK, as well as the Berry smoothie, which was fantastic and packed with berries and flavour. We were absolutely stoked with the Warm scones and banana muffins – the Scones were crisp on the outside and buttery soft on the inside, and the Banana muffins were sweet and moist. Only strange part was the severe stinginess of the jam, cream, and caramel, which were basically teeny dollops – it was enough to fill perhaps half a scone! Or maybe that’s just us, because we’re greedy and love to SLATHER it on. Who knows.
My starter of Tomato-potato causa with prawn-avocado relish was positively TINY! It basically tasted like a small pat of mashed potatoes. That’s not a bad thing, as it was very tasty, despite the relish having no “prawn” whatsoever in it. It was however obviously pre-made and put in the fridge, which is fine with me as it didn’t impact on the taste – I only hope they covered each dish up properly in the fridge to prevent contamination.
The Scrambled eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes sounded really impressive, and we were imagining a superb big breakfast. However, we were alarmed (and a little turned off) to see that the scrambled eggs were hard and rubbery (!) in texture – a glaring sign it was pre-cooked hours in advance and left sitting under a heat lamp. In fact, as we dug in, a large portion of the eggs were a blackish colour – from what? We have no idea but certainly didn’t touch any of it. The potatoes were very oily, and the rest of the sides was rather lackluster.
The Argentina style chicken sandwich with aioli, arugula, grilled bread looked amazing – thick bread with a generous scoop of diced chicken and creamy sauce. The chicken and sauce were delicious in taste – creamy, slightly spicy, and a very moreish meal. However, they used VERY bad cuts of chicken. In nearly every mouthful, there was gristle, fat, and soft cartilage/bone in the chicken chunks. A HUGE turn off and quite disgusting when you’re just trying to enjoy your chicken sandwich. Is it really that expensive to buy chicken breast or thigh? The garlic fries on the side were nicely doused in garlic chunks, but a little too overcooked and dry – so much so that I didn’t finish them (I know, me not finish my fries? What a shocker!!).
Happily, their Blueberry pancakes with home-made cream was a total stunner. 3 delicious fluffy pancakes with blueberries studded through it, drizzed in a blueberry sauce, and topped off with a dollop of cream (though, again, I thought it was way too little – needed at least double the amount of cream). They were slightly sweet from the berries, but still retained the beautifully buttery pancake flavour. Luscious and by FAR the best dish.
Also included in the brunch was coffee & tea, so we had an Expresso and a Cafe Latte. The Expresso was not well made, and I suspect not made with quality coffee beans, as it was declared “average” by Chris. My Cafe Latte was alright, but very watered down so it basically tasted like a hot milk drink.
Overall, I would say this is a decent brunch if you’re after a simple meal and you’re not specifically after high quality ingredients. It’s pretty solid, it does the job, and the price is very reasonable for what you get. Loads of expats love it, so I guess you can’t really go wrong :)
In the busy Azul Viva dining room
Sangria and Berry smoothie
Warm scones and banana muffins
The scones were 100% perfect, but needed WAY more cream and jam
Tomato-potato causa with prawn-avocado relish (with invisible prawns, apparently)
Scrambled eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes
Argentina style chicken sandwich with aioli, arugula, grilled bread
Blueberry pancakes with home-made cream
Espresso and Cafe Latte