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Taste and See is the latest restaurant I visited to compile my best brunches of Shanghai guide. Opened by Yang, an Australian who was previously very high up in the corporate ladder, but decided to quit the grind, and divert his focus on his passion for food and hospitality — Taste and See was born.
Taste and See serves what owner Yang touts as gourmet Melbourne cafe style food. That usually translates to western food with influences from various cultures, because such is the cultural diversity of Melbourne.
The decor of Taste and See is (ahem) tastefully done. Simple, modern with the standard black and white motifs of a hipster cafe, with a warm and welcoming interior. The center piece of the restaurant is a long buffet table, adorned with cakes and pastries for brunch and also their afternoon tea specials.
More uniquely are the outdoor seating, which features a row of high stools along the windows, which when open, turn into an alfresco row of bar tables. 8/10
As this was an invited tasting, my usual unbiased score of 7.5 is awarded. We didn’t noticed any service issues, other than our drinks took a little longer than desired to arrive.
Many thanks to Yang for the invitation to try out their weekend brunch. Weekend brunch at Taste and See come in a very generous set, perhaps the most generous of ALL the brunch places I have visited. For RMB 150, you choose a main course, coffee or tea, and get access to the full buffet spread.
The buffet spread consists of mainly pastries and cakes, with a couple of savoury items like the salad, pasta salad and a mushroom quiche. All in all, there are over 15 items on the buffet; All pastries and cakes are made in-house, daily.
The scones were fluffy and decently done, albeit my western dining companions noted that they had wished clotted cream was available instead of whipped cream.
The spinach and mushroom quiche was lovely with eggy flavours and earthy flavours of shitake mushrooms.
All in all, I felt the buffet items while decently done, were not outstanding. They reminded me of breakfast buffet that you would get at a good five star hotel. The value and variety of dishes was without a question, incredible, hence I feel the buffet on the whole deserve a 8/10
A pair of eggs benedicts with smoked salmon on house-baked English muffins served with a small side of salad. There was little to fault in the dish, runny poached eggs? check. Correct-tasting Hollandaise? Check! Salmon that hasn’t turned bad? CHECK! It was a decent tasting eggs benedict. 8/10
Provencal Beef Stew (Add RMB20)
Australian Angus beef, flambed with cognac, marinated in wine, slow cooked with thyme, bay leaves and assorted herbs.
The provencal beef stew arrived with a burning stick of rosemary. I initially thought it had a biblical reference to the burning bush (Owner Yang is a devout Christian), but turns out it was Yang’s way of smoking the dish with a literally smoking stick of rosemary.
On taste, unfortunately, the smokiness was not apparent. What was very strong was the taste of red wine in the stew.
I thought it was weird, because the consistency of the stew was thick. The beef, fork tender. All these suggested that the stew had been cooked sufficiently, yet the stew tasted as if red wine had just been introduced into it, and its’ tannic acids had not been cooked off.
The stew didn’t taste bad, but I had hoped for a more developed and complex flavour like a beouf bourguignon. 7/10
Wagyu | pork meatballs, rich gravy, cranberry sauce, velvet mash.
Made popular by IKEA, of course. The meatballs were touted to be made with wagyu beef and pork. Here’s the thing, whenever wagyu is used to make something, you can almost never taste the difference. I feel that wagyu can only be enjoyed on it’s own as a steak, shabu shabu, yakiniku and sashimi. The moment you mix it with something else and cook it to death, it has lost it’s taste and value.
That said, the meatballs were flavourful and moist and the mashed potatoes very smooth and welcoming. The gravy was more watery than I had liked, and wouldn’t coat the back of a spoon.
The cranberry sauce had the right fruity notes to balance out the richness, and the bacon infused cabbage completed the plate as a meal. I liked the presentation and portioning of this dish, if only the gravy was thicker. 8/10
Big Breakfast Plate (Add RMB20)
Bacon, pork sausage, beef sausage, two eggs, tomato, baked beans, hash browns
One of my favourite things to eat for breakfast/brunch, but many places fail to get it done properly. I think part of the problem is because of the variety of ingredients on a plate, which adds a higher chance of messing something up.
The one at Taste and See managed to get most of the things right. The bacon was slightly crisp and full of smokey flavours. I only wished it was streaky bacon, which has a nice balance of fat and lean meat, as opposed to back bacon, which is 90% lean throughout.
The sausages, one pork and one beef were well seasoned and browned on the outside. They had a bit of fatty meat in them, so they weren’t dry within, and in fact, quite flavourful.
Hash browns are the store bought McCain type, which is fine for me. My only complaint was the the toast would have been nicer if it was buttered. 8/10
T&S Summer Ice Noodles
Flying fish roe, fresh summer herbs, shredded green apple, angel hair pasta, secret tomato summer sauce
This was a new dish at Taste and See, I gathered it had inspirations from Japanese cuisine from the use of tobiko and seaweed.
The tomato based sauce was served table side, and you could add according to your liking. It was indeed, a very refreshing summer dish, with a mix of sweetness and tartness in the mix. 8/10
That sums up our brunch experience at Taste and See. I really liked the idea, the feel of the restaurant and the gentle but welcoming hospitality of the owner.
While the food was decent, they failed to leave a lasting impression, therefore people may not be looking forward to return.
Interestingly, food writer (and now, Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants China and Korea) Crystyl Mo said the same thing back in 2014 in her review for Timeout Magazine.
All that said, RMB 150 for a main course, coffee and a free flow buffet spread of over 15 items, is quite an unbeatable value in town. If you are a fan of sweets, the brunch buffet will easily make up for everything.