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Spring is the season for Sunday brunch
By Ruby Gao

SUNDAY brunch grows in popularity in the springtime, when the air turns balmy and more 5-star hotels upgrade their brunch service through al fresco dining. Diners also are treated to service with a more personal touch.

Many hotel gardens and terraces become extended brunch areas to let diners enjoy sunshine and nice views. Chefs set up barbecue stations serving grilled meat and fish, which often are served with chilled drinks.

Most of the Sunday brunches in Shanghai are served as buffets or with set menus while high-end hotels often use a mix of buffet and a la carte service.

Appetizers are served buffet style to ensure variety. Premium offerings such as caviar, fresh oysters, king crab and foie gras often are included, adding value to the spread.

Main courses can be served a la carte to increase quality. That way, chefs also can adjust flavors according to diners’ personal preferences.

Desserts are also served buffet style in small portions to appeal to female customers, who often have a sweet teeth but a small appetite.

Free-flow Champagne is no longer such a big selling point. Some hotels like Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai spotlight craft beers to make the brunch more relaxed and homey. Almost all luxury hotels include Champagne in their brunch set, so the brand and grade of the Champagne become a measure of the value received. The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is the first in town to launch a Sunday brunch featuring free-flow vintage Champagne.

Shanghai Daily discovered eight local brunch destinations varied in food style and ambience, from the terrace brunch overlooking the Bund to waitresses wearing a pink nurse uniform who use a syringe to serve cocktails, from those with authentic French desserts to Indian curry.

The Langham, Xintiandi, Shanghai

Pink is the color of its Sunday Brunch, with pink chocolate fondue, pink macaroons and pink strawberry ice-cream. The brunch is held at the all-day restaurant Cachet, where 3-story floor-to-ceiling windows let in the light.

Art décor, chandeliers and live harp music create a classical ambience with a soft touch. An open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Peter Nodler offers interaction between chefs and diners.

The brunch is a mix of unlimited open-kitchen offerings or a la carte items from the menu. The seafood area is the most impressive, with fresh oysters and king crab from Alaska. The roast and cutlet station provides roast Australian beef, suckling pig, lamb cutlets and paella.

Those fancying Chinese flavours can try the dim sum counter, highlighted by hand-pulled noodles served with homemade broth as well as dumplings.

The outside tables are recommended. Gourmet burgers, draft beer and cocktails complement the al fresco mood.

Date: Sundays, 11:30am-3pm

Venue: Cachet, 1/F, 99 Madang Rd

Price: 580 yuan+15% (with unlimited Bollinger Champagne); 240 yuan+15% for children aged 6-12; free for children aged 5 and under

Tel: 2330-2288

InterContinental Shanghai Expo

This brunch is recommended for its garden seats, suitable for spring, and offerings with authentic Indian flavors.

Chef Hareesh Singh is from India and specializes in making curry chicken and curry lamb. The handsome and agreeable chef is popular and known for walking around the restaurant to greet diners.

Brunch is served in buffet style with seven food counters including Chinese, Indian and three European cuisine cultures.

Oysters and the Indian counters are always the most popular. Their lobster sashimi in the cold food area deserves a try.

The outside garden includes a barbecue station with rotisserie meats. There’s an outdoor kids garden with a small fairytale castle and painting.

Date: Sundays, 11am-3pm

Venue: Café 1188, 1/F, 1188 Xueye Rd, Pudong

Price: 498 yuan+15% (with Champagne); 428 yuan+15% (without Champagne)

Tel: 3858-1208

Hyatt on the Bund

A breathtaking view embracing the Bund and Pudong’s Lujiazui skyline, free-flow Perrier Jouet Champagne and tableside cooking make this brunch distinctive.

Brunch is served at VUE Restaurant, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. Wood decor, lines of bookshelves and round tables make guests feel as if they are dining in their own home.

Appetizers and most of the desserts are served buffet style. Fresh oysters, foie gras and beef tartar served with bread are highlights.

Main courses are on their a la carte menu and cooked by chefs beside the table. Boston lobster bisque and flambé tiger prawns with peppers and zucchini are the two most popular.

Their signature dessert soufflé is freshly baked. The airy dessert has different flavors such as coconut, ginger and chocolate. It’s served together with ice cream and seasonal fruit sauce to create a cold-and-hot mouth sensation.

Date: Sundays, 11:30am-3pm

Venue: VUE Restaurant, 30/F, 199 Huangpu Rd

Price: 688 yuan+15%

Tel: 6393-1234 ext 6328

Le Royal Meridien Shanghai

Pink and therapeutic are key words for describing their Sunday brunch, named “la Vie en Rose” (life in pink). Pink table settings, a pink dessert counter, waitresses wearing pink nurse uniforms and Moet Rose Champagne create a romantic feeling.

Brunch is served buffet style, with about 15 food stations, including French, Italian, American, Japanese and Indian cuisines. Foie gras, oyster, caviar and seafood counters add value.

The grand pastry station with 12 different ice creams and 20 kinds of dessert is eye-catching. The burger and hot dog station is a children’s favorite. Grilled food at its barbecue station is made to order.

The brunch can be recommended not only for its food but also for the fun. Their therapeutic cocktail is not just creative but entertaining, served by those pink-garbed nurses, who use a syringe for each guest’s mouth.

Candy is served in a pink medicine bottle labeled “happy pills.” The pills even come with a prescription, stating that they contain wisdom, power, humor and wellness to help diners overcome a sense of guilt after a big brunch.

Date: Sundays, 12-3pm

Venue: Le Bistrot, L/F, Nanjing Rd E.

Price: 388 yuan+15% (without Champagne); 498 yuan+15% (with Moet Brut Champagne); 698 yuan+15% (with Moet Rose Champagne)

Tel: 3318-9999 ext 7007

Fairmont Peace Hotel

The brunch offers al fresco dining on a warm, sunshiny terrace with a nice view of the Bund.

It’s served at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Cathay, known for its European cuisine. Tables are limited in this cosy restaurant so the dining ambience is quiet and exclusive.

Appetizers are served from buffet tables, where mussels and clams marinated with chili and citrus sauce, caviar, foie gras and fresh sashimi are recommended.

Traditional breakfast egg dishes and main courses are on the a la carte menu. Eggs Benedict is recommended, and can be served either with smoked salmon and baby spinach or lobster and capsicum. Roasted lamb and pan-roasted sea bass with lobster risotto are two worthwhile main courses. Diverse desserts with colorful presentations are served from a buffet table.

Balcony seats are limited and should be reserved. There’s also an executive terrace for holding private business brunches.

Date: Sundays, 11:30am-2pm

Venue: Cathay Room, 9/F, 20 Nanjing Rd E.

Price: 798 yuan+15% (with free flow of Laurent-Perrier Champagne); 598 yuan+15% (without wine)

Tel: 6131-6881

Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai

Weekend brunch is served at The MEAT, the hotel’s steakhouse, featuring a Western cowboy dining ambience. Servers are dressed in cowboy and cowgirl garb.

Quality meat, big portions and craft beers are three highlights. Appetizers and desserts are served in buffet style while diners order their main course from an a la carte menu.

Signature main courses include Wagyu sirloin, hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb, and lemon butter king prawns.

Customers can also try their triple-decker beef burgers and their “big breakfast” set, including steak, pork sausage, fried egg on toast and tomato.

Everything is served in big portions except the rich, concentrated lobster soup, which is served in an espresso cup. Craft beers included in the brunch set should not be missed.

The hotel’s own brewery, just next to the restaurant, is open to customers.

After brunch, a visit to the brewery is worthwhile to see the stainless steel vats and raw materials used in making beer.

The limited seats next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer views of Pudong’s Central Park, should be reserved.

Young guests can enjoy two hours of the hotel’s Kerry Adventure Zone, a big playground area with a variety of slides including a 6.4-meter vertical fall designed to strict safety standards. The zone normally is open only to in-house guests and club members.

Date: Saturdays-Sundays, 11:30am-3pm

Venue: The MEAT, 2/F, 1388 Huamu Rd, Pudong

Price: 350 yuan for adults; 128 yuan for children between 4 and 12

Tel: 6169-8888

Sofitel Shanghai Hyland

The hotel’s brunch offers culinary voyage around the world with specialties from different continents. Its French origin ensures its buffet brunch offers authentic French food. Chinese and Japanese areas are also added for variety.

Cheese is the highlight, with six different flavors.

Other signature French foods include foie gras with bread, grilled salmon with cheese sauce, fried beef with olive oil, and braised lamb steak.

French desserts also deserve a try, especially the chocolate mousse cake, mielle-feuille (puff pastry with cream) and opera cake.

Highlights of the Chinese counter are chicken in soy sauce and roasted duck.

Date: Sundays, 12-3pm

Venue: Mosaic, 2/F, 505 Nanjing Rd E.

Price: 398 yuan+15% (with DEUTZ Champagne); 308 yuan+15% (with free flow of Bloody Mary, white wine and red wine); half price for children aged 6-12

Tel: 6351-5888 ext 4281

Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai, Daning

Price is one of the reasons it is recommended. Its brunch served in buffet style is highlighted by its seafood counter, with a variety of fresh options, from shrimp and scallops to tiger crabs and mussels.

The Italian counter with authentic antipasti is also recommended. According to their executive chef, William Wu, the soufflé and éclairs should not be missed.

There’s a kid’s corner with a cartoon show and painting.

Date: Sundays, 11:30am-2pm

Venue: The Eatery, 1/F, 1928 Gonghexin Rd

Price: 188 yuan+15% (without wine); 228 yuan+15% (with wine)

Tel: 2602-2222

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164