In a subtle homage to the classic film set in California’s Napa Valley that highlights obsessive wine culture, there is a new wine bar called Sideway that takes wine just as seriously as its namesake’s characters do. Set up on Anfu Lu in the French Concession, the venue is just one of several other places along the street that specialize in fermented grapes but they also have a myriad of delectable offerings to complement their vast selection of wines.
Decor and ambience
The layout is split into two floors with the upper level having noticeably more comfortable seating but dimmer lighting than the first floor. The color scheme is gray scale throughout, the effect like something out of an upscale modern living magazine. There is an open floor plan that shows off the small kitchen where they whip up small elegant plates. An industrial meat slicer sits handsomely on one counter ready to cut into any of their meat or cheese options in the glass case near the entrance. Upstairs is much more like a lounge, low tables cast shadows from the candlelight and light fixtures on the walls.
The wait staff is knowledgeable about their wines and are happy to tell you anything you need to know about them. All speak English very well for those that don’t have a handle on Mandarin and want to be sure of what they are about to buy- which is important here because the prices can be prohibitive.
Food and drink
Their menu is extensive and thorough, like most wine bars the wines are split into types: Champange/Whites/Reds, but also by region: Chile, France, Spain etc. A word of warning, there are very few options by the glass, only three to four, ranging from bubbles to red and white and all are 69RMB per glass. It’s quite high for a glass but the quality is nice. I tried the Vina Chocalan Reserva Viognier and the Chocalan Pinot Noir Reserva, both from Maipo Valley, Chile. The Pinot was fruity and light although a bit too tannic. The Viognier was dry and sweet and reminded me of Riesling. They have many other wines for sale but all by the bottle and they can get expensive. The cheapest one goes for about 209RMB Chateau La Tour de Beraud Blanc from the Southern Rhone in France. The average is about 500RMB with the most expensive topping 1000RMB.
The food is similarly priced although it is made in-house and there are many ingredients imported from Europe or North America, which influences the pricing. The menu changes often, mostly depending on what is in the market that week. There are luxurious options like Lobster Risotto (329 RMB) and Duck Confit (119RMB) as well as more substantial items like Sirlion with vegetables (349RMB) and Stewed Beef Short Rib (426RMB). Downstairs they have choices that are more deserving of what would be served at a party like French cheeses, Italian and Spanish hams and sausages, as well as pates and rilettes.
While the decor and service are lovely and welcoming, the prices may not have the average person breaking the door down to get taste. It is a nice way to wind down but you may be limited to one glass per trip. If you can afford to enjoy yourself there by all means it is a place worth trying.
Sideway – 160 Anfu Lu, near Wulumuqi Nan Lu, Xuhui district (徐汇区安福路160号, 近乌鲁木齐路). Tel: (0)21-5404-1987. Hours: 2pm-midnight daily.
See a complete list of our bar reviews here.
By Noelle Albert
Noelle Albert is a contributor to the Food & Drink desk. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected]!