Add:G/F, the Shun Pao Plaza, 309 Hankou Rd
Credit Cards Accepted
English Service Available
One of the perks of living in Shanghai is finding hideaways where one can read a book or connect to a laptop with free Wi-Fi while sipping a cup of coffee. If the café is in an historic building, so much the better.
The Press is one such place. The café opened three months ago in the restored Shun Pao Building in the Nanjing Road E. area.
Simple, elegant and timeless, the Shun Pao Building has a history of 143 years. The address was once the home of Shun Pao, or Shanghai News, one of the first modern Chinese newspapers, published between 1872 and 1949. The building later housed the Jiefang Daily before being turned into commercial use.
The five-story building was completed in 1918 after its two-story wood and brick predecessor was demolished.
The Press is somewhat like the New York Café in Budapest, which also once housed influential Hungarian newspapers.
Pushing open the tall, heavy wooden door of the café, one is greeted by a high, double vaulted ceiling with sophisticated reliefs.
The natural interior tones give the place a warming atmosphere.
On the right, comfy sea-blue sofas line the wall, and large windows flood the room with natural light. Upstairs, is an area of bookshelves and more seating. There is also an open space with a four-story atrium that is even quieter than the main hall.
The newspaper culture has not been lost in renovation. Front pages of yesteryear hang on the wall, along with artifacts saved from Shun Pao. The restroom is called “the dark room” here.
A palm-sized menu has the cover design of a newspaper, with the headline “hot off the press!” The offerings include Italian food like panini, pastas, salads, soup and thin-crust pizzas, as well as steak and fish.
The Bolognese duck tagliatelle (58 yuan/US$9.4) is served in small skillets. This bold, thick pasta dish is covered with shredded meat and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes.
The gourmet coffee isn’t cheap, but the quality is good. A large latte, flat white or cappuccino, will set you back 35 yuan. That seems fair enough when you can drink it in such a unique environment.
The dessert menu includes interesting treats like pear ginger cake (32 yuan) and sweet potato cheesecake (28 yuan). The chocolate fondant with lavender sugar (28 yuan) is a warm and moist chocolate cake with melted chocolate inside.
A house specialty is baba àla rhum (28 yuan), a Napoli cake with rum syrup. The cake has an airy texture more like a pudding. It’s soaked in rum and served with a chocolate icing.
The Press also offers set lunches on weekdays. If you arrive too late in the afternoon on weekends, some of the desserts may be sold out.
Overall, The Press is a place where vibe trumps the food, but the café is well worth a visit, if only to enjoy the historic setting.
Average check: 50-150 yuan