Backyard Cafe on Jianguo Lu
Shanghaiist wasn’t expecting much from the Backyard Cafe, just a semi-normal sandwich within walking distance from the apartment. What we got was the best steak we’ve eaten in nearly three years in China. So tender, so tasty, so juicy … so ridiculously cheap. For just RMB 69, Backyard serves up a thick 220 gram beef tenderloin prepared on a proper outdoor grill. It comes topped with a black pepper sauce that provides just the right amount of spice and, as if that wasn’t enough, Backyard also throws in some spinach and potatoes, too. Not enough? Add two ears of corn on the cob for 19 kuai. Yep, they’ve got that, too.
It was so perfect, we had to wonder — was this all a big joke? Was this some sort of Spanish Prisoner-esque ruse that ends with us returning to the restaurant the following day only to find that it’s really an abandoned warehouse and Steve Martin has run off with our life’s savings? (If so, the joke’s on you, Steve. We have no life’s savings. Ha!) Aware that Chinese television has been dabbling in reality, we started looking for hidden cameras, worried that we might be the unwitting subjects of a new Shanghai TV production called The Make A Foreigner Think He Finally Gets A Good Steak In China And Then Visciously Rip His Heart Out And Dip It In That Brown Sauce His Ayi Drowns Everything In, Lycra Show. (It’s a working title.)
Not to say that we haven’t had good steaks in Shanghai. KABB is always reliable and T8 was mighty tasty … but about four times more expensive than the good ol’ Backyard. And, as the name suggests, you can sit outside at the Backyard. It’s tucked back behind La Fabrique in the Bridge 8 complex, out of earshot of the pulsing techno beats and rather peaceful. Bridge 8 houses offices, too — through windows we saw some poor souls typing away deep into a Saturday night.
Everything we tried was excellent and stylishly presented: the Caesar Salad (RMB 38), the Pasta Salad (RMB 39), the Frozen Yogurt with Raspberries (RMB 30). Add a 150 kuai bottle of decent wine, and life doesn’t get much better. A couple things worth noting: Our steak had to be sent back twice before it was cooked medium-well like we ordered. It was a thick steak, and this is China. Deal. Also, don’t be scared if you don’t see half the items mentioned here on their menu. Most are on the blackboard out front and they assured us that they are always on the blackboard out front. Unless that was all part of the reallity show script.
Backyard Cafe, 8-10 Jianguo Zhong Lu, (by Sinan Lu). 建国中路8-10号（近思南路). Tel: 5468-0118.
Eat Me is a semi-regular feature on Shanghaiist that highlights new or noteworthy restaurants in Shanghai. Know of a restaurant you think deserves consideration? Email us at tips(@)shanghaiist.com.