Lunch at HIGHLINE, Shanghai
Watch the Highline video on Youku (China)
Watch the Highline video on Youtube
On the last vlog, I spoke briefly about Highline when I visited them for their opening party. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat that evening, but I was back again recently to have lunch there with the wifey.
Located on the 6F of the Ascott Hotel in Huai Hai Rd, Highline is not as High up as one might imagine, but still provides a lovely panoramic view of the surrounding area.
The restaurant is in it’s infancy, and still exudes that same sensation of unboxing an iphone for the first time. A warm glow is exuded from the lighting, enhanced by natural day light. Leather booth seats juxtaposed against the marble tabletops, wooden and granite floors give a very modern and classy feel. 9/10
We were there for an early lunch, hence there weren’t that many other customers that day. Service was attentive and didn’t felt like I was being oversold on menu items. In fact, I was advised to order dessert after our meal, depending on how full we were. I appreciate little details like these. 9/10
TLDR: we stuffed our faces silly, despite having only ordered a handful of dishes.
The menu at Highline are remakes of contemporary American classics, such as oysters Rockafeller, clam chowder, chicken & waffles, etc.
Chefs Sean Jorgensen and Anna Bautista helm the kitchen.
Charcuterie Board (RMB188)
We started with an item that almost no other media review had touched: the charcuterie board.
It arrived with angus jerky, duck pastrami, cotto salami and chicken hamonado. I thought it was interesting because these were not the usual composition of a traditional charcuterie.
Everything was made in-house, and the angus beef jerky was the unexpected surprise.
On initial taste, it was dry and somewhat bland; Not super-loaded with salt unlike the supermarket-bought beef jerkies I had in Singapore and the US.
After a few chews, the complex flavours of beef and spices started to release in the mouth, and was very pleasant. Yes, the texture is dry and chewy, that is the nature of jerky. I will slap you with a trout if you expected this to be tender and melt in the mouth.
The duck breast was beautifully seasoned, great smokey duck flavours with a satisfying bite.
My wife especially enjoyed the collagen laden terrine with pigs ear, whilst I found the meaty pate, infused with chunks of fat especially sinfully indulgent.
For only 188rmb this was a pretty good deal that is shared easily amongst 3-4 persons. 9/10
Clam Chowder (RMB 68)
Wild Clam stock, fines herb, fried sourdough.
The clam chowder was one of the more publicised dish of Highline. I know for a fact that Sean can whip up a very good clam chowder, hence I was eager to see what his latest rendition at Highline tasted like.
It arrived in a shallow bowl, a sprinkle of micro herbs and scallions on a smooth, white base.
The clams that were featured were plump and succulent. Super excellent clams from Da Lian. These were some of the best clams that I’ve tasted in recent memory; Grit free, sweet and had that lovely squeaky bite.
The chowder too, was delicately seasoned, although I felt that it could have used a little more oomph in the flavours.
My biggest complaint however, was that the chowder was more of a starchy soup, rather than a hearty winter-warming clam chowder. To me, and many people in the world, a chowder ought to be thick, rich and hearty. I also wished for more soup-to-chunks ratio.
For me, this was a nice clam chowder, great perhaps because of the impeccable quality of the clams, but could use a bit more tweaking to reach excellence. 7.5/10
8 hour smoked brisket sandwich (98RMB)
Angus M7 brisket, grain mustard aioli, toasted baguette.
Another highly publicised dish was the smoked brisket sandwich. It arrived a little smaller than I thought, but filled the two of us up abundantly. In fact, I was done with just one half of the sandwich, and the wifey with 1/4. I got in a food coma after finishing her remaining 1/4.
As the name says, the sandwich comes with a lovely brisket that had been house-smoked for 8 hours. The result was super tender, fall-apart meat. However, the M7 brisket cut also meant a high fat marbling, perhaps a little too fat for my personal liking.
On first bite, it was a lovely explosion of a blend of the fatty and flavourful meat with whole grain mustard. On the second bite, I appreciated at how well the baguette was made. Crusty, airy, easy to bite into while not creating a line of scars on the gums.
It was after eating more than half the sandwich, did I felt that enough was enough. Laws of diminishing returns were kicking in, in turbo mode. I couldn’t taste the difference between the fat and the meat anymore.
Thankfully, there were a nice spread of pickles available, which definitely helped to offset the richness.
The hand-cut fries were excellent; Fluffy and crispy, although I wished I had room to enjoy them more. 8/10
Grandma’s Lemon Chiffon Cake (RMB68)
Coconut frosting, lemon curd, fresh whipped cream.
This was the largest slice of cake I have seen served in any restaurant, ever. It made my coffee cup look like an espresso cup.
The cake was light and spongey, with nice lemony flavours. Shave coconut frostings gave this chiffon cake its unique identity, and contrast of textures and sweetness. The freshly whipped cream helped to smoothen the textures, as if it needed any. This was everything I liked and wanted in a cake. 9/10
Red velvet cheesecake sundae (RMB68)
Milk crumbs, meringue, strawberry, coulis
The red velvet cheesecake sundae was a dessert I was highly looking forward to. It arrived to exceed my expectations in appearance and quantity. I really appreciated that portions were American sized, in the case of the the red velvet cheesecake sundae, I felt it was also designed for American tastes.
Perhaps it was a matter of personal preference. I like my desserts to be lighter on the palate, because more often than not, a dessert at a restaurant is served after a whole meal.
In the case of the red velvet cheesecake sundae, the cake element was light and airy, not too sweet. Nice. The marbled meringue slabs, also light but slightly sweeter, melted in the mouth upon contact. The ice cream, to my dismay, represented the cheesecake element. It was cheesecake sundae (as it clearly says in the name, I should have known..).
Cheesecake lovers would find great joy in eating this, but for me, it was too rich and heavy. 3 spoons of it, and I felt full and had to stop. There were two whole scoops of the cheesecake ice cream.
I thought that this was a classic case of a dish requiring a better balance. 7/10
That concludes this simple lunch review. I have to admit, I had sightly higher expectations from what I experienced, but given that they had only just launched this new menu, there are bound to be tweaks to be made. So, take my findings with a pinch of salt, and try out the food at Highline for yourself.
You may find that they had completely resolved the issues I mentioned, or maybe I just didn’t appreciate the style of food as much as others would.
I just might visit for dinner soon to give a report on their other items, primarily the highly touted Angus prime rib.