The problem with objectively trying to discuss food is that it’s an inherently subjective experience. Let’s face it; when it comes to eating out, everybody and their uncle has an opinion, and they inevitably polarize into two distinct groups: those who think ‘this place is great!’ and those who think ‘this place should be razed to the ground and sown with salt so that nothing can ever grow in this spot again.’ It makes discussion… difficult.
Still, there are times (or rather, places) where even the
haters skeptics can agree that all the right elements are present, that nothing has been overlooked, and that the banal process of ‘eating’ has suddenly transformed into ‘fine dining’.
H Café & Bar is one of these places. Elegant and sophisticated, but lacking the pretension usually associated with these adjectives, this Western restaurant gets it right by keeping things stylishly simple. Despite its fairly spacious interior, H Café uses dim lighting, candles and strategically placed table arrangements to maintain a sense of intimacy, making it the ideal place to bring a date or celebrate a special occasion. And as the restaurant is fond of saying, their heavily cushioned sofas are indeed ‘seriously comfortable’.
Don’t be misled into thinking that all their efforts are focused on mood and décor, however; the food remains the core attraction. The fare is well balanced and caters to a wide range of tastes, including a strong vegetarian selection, an entire page of ‘have a taste’ (read: bite-sized) tapas, and steaks galore. One caveat: the head chef seems to particularly enjoy adding mushrooms to his recipes, particularly the Portobello, so if you’re not a fan of agarics, you may have a slightly harder time choosing your meal. That aside, the food is fantastic, so go wild!
Their wine list is solid and features bottles from a wide range of countries, though knowing how to recognize wines of good provenance is a definite advantage. (Tip: if you’re not a connoisseur, you can hardly go wrong with a good red from Chile)
Finally, prices (the make-or-break factor for some) are extremely reasonable: expect to pay roughly 60 to 100 RMB per main dish, while wines start around two to three hundred kuai.
Our recommendation: order the Portobello mushroom risotto for a taste of true Northern Italian Milanese cuisine.
H Café & Bar, 1415 Huashan lu, near Hunan lu (华山路1415号，近湖南路), Tel: 6283 8308, Open 9.30am to 2.00am