In Cafetique, Shanghaiist reviews coffee shops and cafes around Shanghai that provide the two things our writers need most in life: caffeine and wireless internet. How does your neighborhood hangout spot stack up?
Where: 1/F, Shanghai Times Square, 99 Huaihai Zhong Lu,
淮海中路99号大上海时代广场1楼 (One of two locations)
Atmosphere: This particular venue is an open plan cafe and it’s the first thing you’ll see if you enter through the main doors to Times Square mall. It keeps a lot of the same design elements as Wagas, but in place of the office gray color scheme, they’ve gone with a deep brown.
There’s only one problem and unfortunately it’s a big one. The doors to the mall are on both sides of the shop creating a horrifying wind tunnel. The whole store of customers shivers in unison when the door opens. A storm of napkins were sent flying once and it was moderately comedic to see the staff go scrambling after them but when your fingers petrify, the chill stops being so funny.
Could they lock the door on one side? I asked. No, sorry was the answer. Fire code regulations mandate that it has to remain open. Ahh I see, welps hmm…I guess I’ll be back in the spring then. No really, as much as I wanted to stay, after an hour of the frigid temperature, I ran away to Gloria Jeans. Even when the weather warms up, this Cirka will still be a grab-and-go. It’s small size (seats about 45) and open plan make it hard mentally to settle down. On the flip side, it could be great for people-watching.
Music: Bossa nova, jazz, and cafe lounge music at a non-offensive volume. Not too sleepy, not too distracting, and it steered away from annoying abstract songs too.
Food and Drink: Cirka has a smaller menu than Wagas–it only carries sandwich variations (approximately 45 RMB for a sandwich), no pastas–but it has a larger selection of Baker and Spice pastries which could spell trouble for dieters. On the counter top, there’s a mouthwatering three-tiered cupcake stand that requires a high level of self control to resist.
While the food is more Baker and Spice, the drinks menu is essentially Wagas. That means the flat white, a southern hemisphere specialty no doubt thanks to co-founder Jackie’s roots – God bless her. Cirka has slightly more in the way of alcohol too. Besides wine and beer, they have mojitos, martinis, and other cocktails, none of which are over 60 RMB.
Wifi: No problems at all. Tables however, are set a little low to be using a computer.
Overall: Wagas devotees will be kept happy by this latest cafe concept. Service was superb, food delicious and the whole experience remained true to the standards we’ve come to expect from the Wagas group, but ouch, that cold draft is sure to be a deal breaker for anyone who wants to stay longer than 15 minutes. We know that there is another Cirka at ifc mall in Pudong–we haven’t actually been there yet, but its address reads LG/F, so that sounds promising.