Creperie and bistro Bon App is the first expat foothold in that nondescript strip of fruit stands, electric companies, and eyeglass stores comprising Wuding Lu (the one across Yanping Lu from the Wuding Lu with Munchies and company). However, like most expat “firsts” in China, it’s a bit rough around the edges.
A warmly-lit den with two-three person tables, and a small outdoor seating area complements the calm (at least for Shanghai) Wuding Road strip nicely. Unfortunately, the intimacy is shattered by the well meaning, but agonizingly clunky staff. Our waitress asked us if we were ready to order as she was handing us the menu, gave us the dessert menu before we’d received our main course, and offered to refill our still brimming bowls of cider. And while the waitresses have a pleasant, albeit stilted, demeanor and the incompetence is clearly more management’s fault, I’ll take your snarling Shanghai server any day over this comedy of errors.
Crepes and more crepes. For your entrée, you can choose from a selection of buckwheat crepes such as the campargnarde (48RMB) with duck breast, mushrooms, cream, and bacon, and the biquette (55RMB) with goat cheese, bacon, walnuts, and honey. “Wrap” up the meal with dessert crepes, ranging from simple butter and sugar (22RMB), to Grand Marnier (40RMB) with orange.
Overall, the crepes are hit and miss. The biquette wins, chiefly because bacon plus goat cheese appears a foolproof formula for deliciousness, while our assumedly simple lemon, butter, and sugar crepe was one of the most disjointed pairings we’ve tasted recently. The lemon’s piercing acidity equaled culinary nails on a chalkboard, drowning out any subtle sweetness or creaminess provided by the sugar-butter combo. Go with the plain butter and sugar crepe.
Those not in the mood for crepes can opt for beef, veal, lamb, pork or fish mitonnes (70RMB).
Starters entail tartines, either hot or cold toasted French open-faced sandwiches, of which the most touted is the Parisian, molten cheese atop ham, mushrooms, bechamel sauce, and rustic country bread (45RMB for five pieces). The sum of the Parisian’s parts is gloopy, runny goodness (think a miniature croque-monsieur), but the individual elements are a bit lacking. The ham evokes cold cuts you’d find in a shrink-wrapped airplane sandwich and overall, and nothing else really jumps out.
The best thing going is the French cider served in the traditional small white bowls (35RMB), which you grab two-handed and glug like you’re at a Saxon victory banquet, or jugs to pour (50RMB/0.25 litres; 90RMB/0.5 litres). Cooling and spritzy, this nectarous beverage evokes champagne mixed with apple juice.
Bon App isn’t really worth swinging by for those living more than a few stops away. But, it’s nice to finally have a hangout where Wuding Lu’s booming expat population can enjoy cider and crepes on the sidewalk in the warm weather.
Bon App – 1116 Wuding Lu, near Yanping Lu (静安区武定路1116号，近延平路). Tel: (0)21-5265-5365. Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm lunch. 6-9:30pm dinner.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].