a FuturePerfect on Huashan Lu
Shanghai’s latest gourmet concept restaurant officially opened Sunday night with a private dinner, cocktail party and, of course, a model show. a FuturePerfect is tucked away in a lane off Huashan Lu — just where it curves west near the JingAn Hilton hotel. Provided the model show was just a one-off for the launch event, expect aFP to combine quality food, clean design, and attentive service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their colorful ambience recalls hip, arty bistros in downtown Manhattan or San Francisco.
aFP’s impressive space was created by designers Mario Van der Meulen of SGTH and Raefer Wallis and Sasha Silva of A00. It abuts one of the city’s few boutique hotels, the charming 12-room Old House Inn designed by Shanghainese architect Wu Haiqing. The restaurant’s interior is sleek yet inviting, with inlayed wooden tables, oversize cushioned benches, and remarkably sturdy cardboard chairs. Sitting in the dining room, one can see across the walkway to the detached bakery kitchen where aFP’s breads and deserts are made fresh daily. The bar room also hosts two booths that seem like the “cool” place to sit. Outside, the garden is spacious and should become a popular retreat in the coming spring. Unfortunately, the toilet is co-ed, a bit cramped, and could use more privacy, or at least some piped in music.
Owners Frank Steffen (main partner at Arch), Emile Yu and Hebe Ting have assembled a menu that features market fresh and home-made cuisine. Sunday night’s guests were served a Seafood Chowder Bread Bowl, whose container was baked on premises. It was followed by a FutureFrench salad replete with mixed greens, soft cheese, slices of pear, and candied walnuts. The main course options were steak and salmon. Titled 300T, the beef was an ample 300 gram cut of well marbled tenderloin, seasoned and broiled; served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and some side greens. Shanghaiist knows a good steak and this one exceeded our expectations, certainly when priced at a reasonable 129 RMB. The fish, aka Thor’s Thunder, was a long portion of grilled salmon served with risotto. We know how difficult it is to find risotto that doesn’t resemble wet cement and we’re grateful to find a mushroom flavored competitor to 239‘s famed seafood variety.
We’ve been told the wine list is smartly categorized by food choice and features one of the bigger selections of wine-by-the-glass in town. Having enjoyed a chilled white with the salad, a bold Tuscan red with the steak, and some Champagne with desert — we’re all for pairing and look forward to sampling more vino next time.
Dessert gets its own paragraph since aFP introduced four of its options on one plate. We’ll withhold judgement on the creme brulee as it tasted like it had all of the right characteristics if made to order, but it’s simply not a desert that can be mass produced. The Tiramisu was exceptional. Where Shanghai’s other attempts are often soggy, or downright sloppy, aFP’s was a lightly textured pick-me-up, especially when consumed with a double espresso. The cheesecake was perhaps too light, given the bulky crust, but somehow still tasty enough that we ate most of it. The chocolate cake was rich, and recommeded for those who prefer buttercream to dieting.
After dinner, the courtyard was packed with party invitees who stood to watch the model show produced by Beijing’s Model Management. It included: a half dozen tall Russian chicks, some mod fashions, an improvised catwalk, and later, a couple squad cars of police who arrived on cue to tame the party down just as the show had finished.
Essentially, a FuturePerfect is a well designed addition to the fine dining scene in Shanghai. If you eat at T8, Mesa, Laris, Sens & Bund, or the like, you’ll want to try aFP. In the future, the bakery will have its own little point of sale, offering breads, pastries and cakes. And they’re working on a brunch menu.
a FuturePerfect, No. 16, Lane 351 Huashan Lu. tel: (021) 6248 8020. aFP’s website launches December 1.
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.