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?
What: Pier 39
Where: 172 Jinxian Lu near Maoming Lu; 进贤路172号, 茂名路
Atmosphere: It’s a small shop which sits only about 15 people but even so, it doesn’t really give off a cozy feeling because of the floor to ceiling glass windows (which no doubt would be the perfect spot to sit beside on a warm day). It looks like they tried to go for that warehouse-y effect, but the end result is a bit like a pair of fake distressed jeans, or in other words, they didn’t quite pull it off. Still, it ain’t bad to look at. Pier 39’s big winning point is their polite, friendly staff who handled all our requests beautifully and smartly came around to check on us before the last kitchen order.
Music: It was the most random playlist I’ve ever heard put together. They had Miley Cyrus, trance, “I Don’t Speak Americano”, Usher, and just about everything you can think of on rotation.
Food and Drink: Pier 39’s claim to fame is their clam chowder bread bowl (52 RMB) which wasn’t quite as good as the stuff in the California bay but it was pretty decent. A warmed bread bowl would have made a world of difference so there was room for improvement there but there were absolutely no complaints about the chicken cream sauce pasta which comes with large delectable pieces of smoky chicken (48 RMB). Their forte is California-style leafy salads and sandwiches which are all reasonably priced (most around 38 RMB) and the menu is generous in their use of avocado. The house special salad (58 RMB), a mix of that same heavenly smoked chicken breast, Swiss cheese, egg, tomato, onion, lettuce drizzled in a homemade vinaigrette, really stands out too. Aside from that, they do a few different takes on croissants, bagels (12 – 26 RMB), a homemade tiramisu (45 RMB) and their afternoon tea set is coffee and your choice of snack: either tuna crackers, chicken wings, or chicken sticks (RMB 38).
A simple coffee is 20 RMB but while you’re here you might as well try their New Orleans French Style coffee on ice cream (38 RMB). If you’re trying to steer clear of caffeine, they’ve got loads of fresh options for the juicer: apple, carrot, cucumber, tomato, pear, celery or a mix for any of those for 22 RMB.
Wifi: Excellente. The place is set up with outlets beside every table that pop out of the ground.
Overall: Good service is so hard to come by in China. Not only do the servers here speak good English, they’re smart, sensible, and courteous too. Add fresh, tasty salads and sandwiches at affordable prices (see how that’s done, Element Fresh?) to that and we’re completely sold. So the decor is a little off and they could use a little help with their music, that doesn’t bother us too much–we’re downright excited to go back.