Liquid Laundry — A name that has been ringing in high praises and crowds amongst brunch and eggs lovers throughout downtown Shanghai in recent months. Ever since Madisons’ temporary closure, Liquid Laundry had pretty much reigned as the king of brunch in the Former French Concession area.
I’m usually not a fan of hipster places — one of the reasons why I had not tried Madisons to date. However, I decided to go down to Liquid Laundry to find out what the fuss was about. This review is based on two visits, one for their lunch set and one for their brunch (only available on weekends).
It is worth noting that Liquid Laundry is brought to you by veteran restauranteur, Kelley Lee; The same people behind Boxing Cat Brewery, The Alchemist and Sproutworks.
The venue is primarily a ‘gastropub’, which is the hippie term for a modern artisanal pub. They brew a selection of beers, and take great pride in their drinks. The cuisine is labelled as American, modern fare with quirky names, giving a somewhat San Francisco vibe.
On weekends, the place transforms into a family brunch headquarter in the day, with queues reaching easily at least an hour for a dedicated table.
The decor of Liquid Laundry is industrial-like with a modern brewery feel. Imagine a beer brewery, converted artistically into a restaurant, you will have Liquid Laundry. There are standard dining tables and chairs, while larger groups have to settle for the high tables and stools. 7.5/10
Service is pretty average. Floor manager didn’t bat an eyelid during both visits. Staff came when asked, and never did anything out of the ordinary. Brunch service was busy as heck, but luckily our orders and extra orders arrived on time and correctly. 7/10
We’ll talk about their ¥78 lunch set, and then after, the ¥150+ per person brunch.
There are a small selection of lunch set options, mainly revolving around roast chicken or a personal pizza. I went for the 1/4 roast chicken set which is apparently one of their specialties. I could also choose a drink and a side dish, of which I chose the Mac and Cheese.
The set actually turns out to be quite a good value when the bread basket arrived, because they were very generous with the fresh and warm focaccia bread, which came with some sort of a chicken terrine to be had together. The terrine was quite flavourful. 7.5/10
The quarter roast chicken was actually quite ample. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to a house specialty status as expected. There were some pros and cons.
– Juicy and tender succulent meat — perfectly cooked.
– Generous 1/4 portion.
– Soft limp skin.
– Skin did not have much maillard umami.
– Seasoning on the chicken wasn’t special. Infact, I would consider it a very average chicken seasoning. It wasn’t particularly fragrant nor spicy.
– The ‘original sauce’ I chose was quite bland and watery.
All things considered, this gets a 7/10 with the price-point taken into consideration.
The mac and cheese was thankfully on a league of its own. I finished the entire bowl. I’ve had Mac and cheese a few times around the world and have always wondered how a traditional version in the states would taste like. The ones I’ve had before were often overly rich and cheesey that I would basically feel tired of the mac and cheese after 5 bites.
The mac and cheese at Liquid Laundry on the other hand, is creamy and flavourful, BUT light.
The execution is also quite authentic, from the crispy sprinkled breadcrumbs on top to the creamy but light béchamel sauce. This was one of if not the most enjoyable Mac and Cheese I’ve had to date. 8.5/10
I opted for an americano for another ¥15. It was a decent cup, and I thought the irregularly shaped sugar ‘rocks’ in the jar were cute. 7.5/10
Take note that brunch is only available at Liquid Laundry on weekends!
Spuds Deluxe. This was essentially a platter of bacon, sausage and roasted potatoes with some cheddar cheese melted over them. The bacon at Liquid Laundry is house-made, so they have a unique thicker mouth-feel and aroma. That said, I kind of prefer my bacon thinner sliced. The sausages were nice and flavourful, scented heavily by thyme/rosemary. The potatoes were quite normal, albeit nice and crisp on the roughly crushed edges. 7.5/10
The scrambled egg sliders were cute to look at, and decent enough to satisfy the scrambled eggs and burger craving. The eggs were nicely warm and fluffy but the patties were overcooked. Tasted like how it looked. Sadly, nothing very fantastic. 7/10
We were intrigued by the bacon, so we decided to order an extra plate of bacon. This is a bacon platter that came with Maple glaze, Habanero and regular bacon. Of the three, I preferred the original. Habanero was mildly spicy, while the maple one was quite sweet. 7/10
Ooh La La. That’s the hipster name for a plate of classic southern style biscuit with gravy, paired with the house made bacon again, and some scrambled eggs. While the components were nicely cooked, they appeared (and tasted) as separate individual components, and didn’t come together in harmony as a dish. More gravy would have been nicer because I really didn’t like the dry crumbly texture of biscuits. 6.5/10
Waffle with caramelised banana and almond butter
Thankfully, the belgian waffle turned out the star of the afternoon. Crispy and light waffle, paired beautifully with the sweet caramelised bananas, bonded with the almond butter. This one’s a keeper. 8.5/10
In conclusion, the offerings at Liquid Laundry are currently very exciting, even though much can be improved upon. I like the dynamic and young vibe, as well as the creativity and boldness in the menu. Some of that same vibe is expressed in the presentation of the food, however I felt that the flavour department was a little lacking.
Given how busy they are currently, I’m not sure if they will/need to improve, but it’s this kind of love-hate relationship that has me looking forward to the next visit.