Crazy About Brunch at Highline, Shanghai
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Brunch is one of my favourite meal types, probably because it happens after you wake up later than usual, and it often involves a variety of items to be shared with friends.
I was supposed to do a top 10 brunches of Shanghai back in 2016, but that got procrastinated until one of the bigger names in the list got closed.
Today I will be featuring a relatively new comer to the upcoming list: Highline.
Highline was not known for brunch initially, until around March 2017 when Chefs Anna Bautista and Sean Jorgensen started pushing out their New American brunch items. Here’s what I thought of them over the course of a few visits.
As previously reviewed, the decor at Highline is super sleek and luxurious with it’s trifecta combination of leather, marble and wood.
I always get a ‘James Bond-ish’ vibe when I go to Highline. Maybe it is the fireplaces that make one feel like they were in the den of the villian, or on some snowy cabin up in the Swiss Alps. Needless to say, the decor at Highline is truly one of a kind in Shanghai. 9/10
Service again was attentive and truly quite flawless, although the few times that I’ve went, I went early to beat the crowds. I wonder how service would fare under a more stressful crowd. 9/10
Crab Cake Benedict
Poached egg, asparagus, fennel, citrus, sauce choron for 128 rmb.
I’m big fan of crab cakes, because they allow one to indulge entirely in crab meat, skipping the deshelling process (to which some find pleasure in).
The crab cakes at Highline came in a hefty patty that were filled with seasoned crab flesh encased in a crisp panko-like crust.
A lone perfectly poached egg perched on top is blanketed with a generous slather of spiced hollandaise sauce.
I loved that the crab cakes had little filler and were moist and flavourful.
The egg was perfectly done, and the hollandaise sauce paired exquisitely as a marriage between the egg and crab cake.
The accompanying fennel salad was refreshing with the acidity from the fennel and citrus fruits balancing the richness of the crab cake harmoniously. This was probably the best crab cake I’ve ever had. 10/10
Artic Shrimp Deviled Egg Dip
Flying fish roe, dill,spicy mayo mustard, rye toast for 98 rmb.
Another dish that tasted as beautifully as it was presented. Soft succulent arctic shrimp paired with tobiko and caviar on top of an egg yolk mash of sorts. The rich umami-centric trio of eggs was a welcome burst of flavours and richness in the mouth, piqued with accents from the dill.
I found myself eating scoop after scoop of this lovely dish, allowing the ingredients to melt away in the mouth without any bread. 10/10
Chicken and Waffle
Cajun spice, maple bacon butter for 148 rmb.
The Americans love fried chicken so much that they came up with the idea of eating it with their brunch waffles, complete with maple syrup in a mix of sweet and savoury flavours.
The maple bacon butter was an interesting concoction that had a nice heat along with it’s expected velvety richness on the waffles.
The waffles on their own were pretty decent; Light, airy, crisp.
The chicken pieces, while plentiful, featured a harder, gum-scraping type of crust that wasn’t my cup of tea.
While the crust and chicken were well seasoned, it didn’t have that wow factor for me that I had hoped for. You know the kind of feeling when you’ve just bitten down into your favourite piece of fried chicken after missing it for a long time? With the batter giving away lightly to your teeth, followed by a quick burst of flavours and fats from and beneath the chicken skin before sinking comfortably into warm, tender and juicy chicken flesh. The one at Highline was just ok. 7/10
Taking Care of Biscuits
Smoked pork jowl, braised greens, biscuits, hollandaise for 98 rmb.
This was a highly recommended dish that was meant to be very ‘southern’ in nature.
For me it was an interesting mix of house-smoked pork jowl that resembled bacon, lending its saltiness to a crumbly and buttery South-American-style biscuit.
The greens were a homage to the collard greens that is common in the style of cuisine, but I found them unmemorable on the plate.
The whole dish would have been rather dry if not for the perfectly poached eggs, whose yolks along with the hollandaise sauce helped bound the components together in a wonderful if unfamiliar juxtaposition. 8/10
Smoked Salmon and Potato Hash Waffle
Dill, cucumber, sour cream and salmon roe for 108 rmb.
Hashbrowns and rostis are one of, if not my favourite things to eat, so I was eagerly hoping for this dish to be one of them. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
Even though smoked salmon on potatoes has been done, not many places do a good house-made hashbrown. This dish at Highline arrived with a generous heap of salmon on an almost perfectly made hashbrown, if not for a few over-charred edges. The hashbrown was crisp and thankfully not bitter from too much over-charring, and featured lovely potato flavours.
In contrast, the cold and soft salmon was refreshing on the tongue and paired classically with the bright flavours of dill. For some reason though, my palate felt a little over salty after eating too much of this. I guessed it might be the combination of the smoked salmon along with the salmon roe, along with seasoning. Perhaps a touch more acidity in the form of lemon juice or a vinaigrette might help balance out the dish better. 8.5/10
And that was that for brunch. While the prices weren’t cheap, not that they should be, the quality and portions were certainly well worth it. Book ahead for weekend brunches, because seats get sold out very quickly.
What is your favourite place for brunch? Leave a comment below and let me know!