For many people, brunch on weekends is highly valued not only for its cost-effectiveness, but also because it’s a good chance for communication among family and friends in a casual and leisurely way.
While the brunch menu usually includes most of restaurant’s signature foods, it also is the only time that diners can eat their fill of some outrageously expensive food and drink, such as oysters, caviar, foie gras, lobster and champagne, with a comparatively modest price.
“Frankly, Sunday brunch is the most popular meal at a hotel. When you drink over three glasses of champagne, basically we don’t make any money. It’s more for strengthening the hotel’s brand image,” says a hospitality insider who declines to have her name published.
Hotel brunches distinguish themselves through great food variety, fresh and quality ingredients, and caring service. Recently, many five-star hotels are trying to expand the definition of brunch from a food feast to a dining carnival. More entertainment is added, from playful ways to present food to servers dressing theatrically.
However, hotel brunches still often struggle with higher prices, a more serious dining ambience and food that is safe yet lacks personality.
Brunch at independent restaurants tends to be simpler and cheaper and with more personality. The dining ambience often is impressive and lively. There are some nice brunches served in some heritage buildings, where diners can enjoy food either in a flowery garden or on a sunny terrace. But both food consistency and service are the biggest challenges for those restaurants.
Shanghai Daily has picked nine brunch destinations in the city covering standard European cuisine, Spanish tapas, Shanghai dim sum, French bistro and American grills.
Dining ambience differs, from American cowboy to your family living room, from nostalgic and classical to modern and vibrant.
Each one is recommended because of its unique features, from the brunch with the Bund view to restaurant in a heritage building, from craft beer to vintage champagne, from super big food portions to waitresses dressing pink nurse uniforms.
The Peninsula Shanghai
Luxury ingredients, from fresh oysters to caviar, from foie gras to wagyu beef, gueridon service (food cooked and presented to the guest at the table) together with a breathtaking Bund view make their brunch one of the most impressive in Shanghai.
Brunch is served in Sir Elly’s, a fine-dining European restaurant located on the top two floors. A five-course menu starts with the three-tier cold appetizer plate presenting charcuterie, nicoise salad and smoked salmon with flat bread.
After finishing hot appetizers and soup, diners can choose one main course among five. Their wagyu beef burger is recommended — it’s considered by many to be the finest in town. Tender and juicy beef, together with creamy foie gras, rich and aromatic truffle ketchup and fresh arugula give each bite layers of texture and balanced flavor.
Brunch ends with an assortment of the hotel’s signature desserts, including two highlights — pistachio soufflé with apricot compote, and apple tart tatin with vanilla ice cream.
It’s ideal for families. Kids can enjoy their own mini buffet with their own special tableware and take home giveaways.
The Waldorf Astoria reinterprets Sunday brunch as a food journey, filled with changing ambience and memories, not simply a food feast.
Sunday brunch starts at their nostalgic Long Bar, a heritage venue that goes back to 1910, when the former Shanghai Club was where the upper crust socialized. Freshly shucked oysters and Perrier Jouet champagne are served at the 111-foot bar, which has marble columns, dark woods and stained glass windows.
Customers then move to the Grand Brasserie, a spacious and bright dining area with a modern Manhattan touch, to enjoy both the buffet and a la carte menu.
The a la carte menu is highlighted by some classical breakfast treats, from seafood omelets to truffle scrambled eggs, from buttermilk pancakes with lemon cream to Belgian waffles with vanilla, mango and coconut sauce. Some hot dishes justify the price, including Boston lobster and Australian beef with truffle ravioli and asparagus.
The buffet is highlighted by its large seafood station featuring caviar, king crab legs and a dessert station, where customers can enjoy the hotel’s signature red velvet cake, usually available only during its afternoon tea set.
The last week of every month, an upgraded brunch set is additionally served featuring free flow of 2004 vintage champagne.
Date: Every Sunday, 11am-3pm
Address: 1/F, 2 Zhongshan Rd E1
Price: 688 yuan+15% (without Champagne); 888 yuan+15% (with Champagne); 3,988+15% (vintage Champagne, need to book in advance)
Le Royal Meridien Shanghai
Their Sunday brunch is inspired by the French song “la Vie en Rose” (Life in Pink). Dining ambience features pink, from the table settings, rose Champagne to waitresses dressed in pink nurse uniforms — a setting sweet, romantic and therapeutic.
Cocktails and candy are served creatively. The “therapeutic cocktail” is served by nurses using a syringe for each diner’s mouth. Candy served in a pink medicine bottle named “happy pills” is popular. According to the prescription, the pills work against feeling guilty after a lavish Sunday brunch, and contain sexiness, power, wisdom, humor and wellness.
The buffet includes 15 food stations, covering Western, Chinese, Japanese and Indian cuisine. Caviar, foie gras, oysters and seafood are four stations worth the price. Children’s favorites are the burger and hot dog station, as well as the grand pastry station with 20 different desserts, 12 kinds of ice cream and a chocolate fountain.
Date: Every Sunday, 12pm-3pm
Address: L/F, 789 Nanjing Rd E.
Price: 388 yuan+15% (without Champagne); 598 yuan+15% (with rose Champagne)
Tel: 3318-9999 ext 7001
Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai
Chunks of quality meat, large-portion American breakfasts, craft beer and an exclusive benefit for family customers make Kerry’s Sunday brunch served in its steak house distinctive.
Dining ambience is Western cowboy, represented by its ceiling decorated with a red bull’s horn sculpture, and servers dressed in cowboy and cowgirl costumes. The floor-to-ceiling window brings light in and a nice park view.
Appetizer and dessert are served in buffet style while main courses are on its a la carte menu. Highlights include some impressively big treats like the big breakfast set (beefsteak, pork sausage, fried egg on toast and tomato) and triple-decker beef burger.
Their wagyu sirloin, hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb and lemon butter king prawns deserve a try. All their grilled foods are served on table trolleys, expressing a sense of showmanship and entertainment.
Kerry is also one of a few Sunday brunches in town highlighting craft beer. The hotel has its own brewery, where enormous stainless steel vats and raw materials are presented, meriting a visit after or during the brunch. Compared with normal beer, craft beer has more body in terms of taste. Their sweet-and-sour homemade apple cider also is good.
Young customers can enjoy two hours of their day at Kerry Adventure Zone, a mega house playground known for its 90 degree slide, the highest in town, which is normally open only to the hotel’s club members and in-house guests.
Date: Every Sunday, 11:30am-3pm
Address: 2/F, 1388 Huamu Rd, Pudong
Price: 350 yuan+15% (adult); 128 yuan+15% (kids between 4 and 12 years old); price includes free flow of craft beer and soft drinks.
Hyatt on the Bund
Authentic European flavor is complemented by free flow of Perrier Jouet champagne, a river view embracing the Bund and Lujiazui skyline and a warm, family style dining ambience.
The décor, featuring wood, rows of bookshelves, round tables and an open kitchen make the restaurant like a living room. Walls covered with various pipes and corkscrews show a masculine elegance.
Guests are invited to start with a Bloody Mary cocktail, made from fresh celery and tomato, which can help nourish the stomach. Nine food stations are set in order from light and fresh to rich and sweet.
Brunch is served in semi-buffet style while all the main courses are on their a la carte menu. Fresh oysters, beef tartar served with bread, and savory goat cheese covered with sweet raspberry jam are three highlights of the appetizers.
Hot dishes are freshly made and served in small portions. The chef is good at giving the seafood a creamy, rich flavor. Seafood risotto, lobster soup and tiger prawns with cream sauce are three signature dishes — especially the prawns, which are enhanced by drops of aromatic anisette.
Most of their desserts are served buffet style except their freshly baked airy soufflé (try the coconut ginger and the chocolate flavors) and pineapple ice cream with hot strawberry sauce features a hot-and-cold flavor sensation.
When making a reservation, don’t forget to ask the restaurant for one of their three tables with the best view.
Date: Every Sunday, 11:30am-3pm
Address: 30/F, 199 Huangpu Rd
Price: 658 yuan+15%
Tel: 6393-1234 ext 6328
Their bistro-style brunch features comfy and authentic French food, a cozy dining ambience and an affordable price. The small restaurant is known for its Bordeaux wine collection, with around 75 different labels. The chef’s artistic use of truffles is evident in the food.
The brunch set includes a mixed basket (bread and viennoiserie baked goods with butter and jam), two mixed platters, dessert and their signature dessert, apricot coullis (a French puree-like dessert).
The chef is proud of his truffle club sandwich, which features rich textures and full flavors. Pan-fried crispy bread is filled with soft and flavorful mozzarella cheese and truffle. Also popular is the egg and foie gras has soft-boiled egg with foie gras on top and black truffle sprinkled on top.
Every weekend, the restaurant sets up outdoor seats to accommodate more customers. Enjoy the warm outdoor sunshine before the weather turns cold.
Their all-you-can eat dim sum brunch includes most authentic Shanghai flavors, from traditional dim sum sold by local street vendors to homely dishes usually made by Shanghai grandmas. Good variety and classical recipes are two highlights.
Customers can choose from six appetizers, 22 kinds of dim sum and staple foods, and five desserts.
Some dim sum made from cheap ingredients in classical Shanghai style deserve a try because they’re becoming rarer. They are delicious but disliked by many modern Chinese restaurants and hotels as not elegant or healthy enough. The chef preserves the traditional and reinterprets them in a favorable way. These classical options include jiang luobo (marinated radish), xie ke huang (a baked local puff pastry), ci fan gao (deep-fried rice cake), you jian da huntun (deep-fried wonton), ci mao tuan (rice ball filled with pork covered with glutinous rice).
Some popular Shanghai dim sum are sure-fire hits, like xie fen xiaolong (steamed dumplings with filling mixing pork and hairy crab roe) and congyou ban mian (noodles braised in spring onion oil and topped with dried shrimp).
Their new chef is from Hong Kong, so some Cantonese dim sum and desserts have been added to the menu, like cha shao bao (dumplings filled with honey glazed, barbecued pork).
Date: Every Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm
Address: 5/F, Zhongshan Rd E1
Price: 158 yuan+10%
For those preferring to eat outdoors on sunny days, this Spanish restaurant located in a three-story old villa with both a leafy courtyard and spacious terrace is ideal.
Their brunch is served on the first two floors. After brunch, guests can also go up to its top floor, a sparkling wine bar.
In the brunch menu, tapas predominate, including most of chef’s signature dishes, combining traditional Spanish flavor with modern culinary thinking. The chef is known for creating rich and balanced flavor through his distinctive blending of sauces.
Their Spanish omelette, the traditional version and a chorizo version, show how the restaurant preserves the tradition.
Cheery gazpacho with olive oil ice cream, while sounding strange, tastes good. The fact that the soup is served cold seems to concentrate the flavor.
Pan fried baby squid with Spanish vinaigrette is recommended for seafood lovers. Meat lovers can try lamb chops or beef brochettes with baked tomato.
In terms of dessert, homemade lemon pie is a safe choice. More adventurous guests should try the carrot and pumpkin pudding, which is caramelized with saffron soup and served with orange ice cream.
Most of the waiters are Europeans who speak English fluently.
Date: Every Sunday, 11:30am-3:30pm
Address: 110 Fenyang Rd
Price: 188 yuan (two tapas and one dessert); 78 yuan for extra tapas or dessert
This chain store also provides a quality brunch that’s also sold at a friendly price. All their outlets feature bright interior design, and a cozy and vibrant ambience.
Element Fresh traces the weekend brunch back to its origin, as an extension of breakfast. It starts at breakfast time, 7am (opening times of different restaurants vary slightly) and ends at 4pm, much later than others.
Food features classical Western breakfast food, including eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, bagels and pancakes.
More than 20 breakfast options are on the menu. Those with big appetites can choose a big American set including four eggs (any style), three strips of bacon, two sausages, two pieces of French toast, potatoes, fresh fruit and a drink. Meat lovers can choose a cowboy set with pan-fried steak (90 grams) and other basic breakfast options. There are also sets featuring low-calorie choices, salmon, pancakes and toast.
You can choose the restaurant closed to your home. We recommend two of its newer outlets.