Anfu Road Eateries

If you live in or near the French Concession, you have many a choice of breakfast fix. Here are a few of them, all based on the much-loved and reasonably pretentious Anfu Rd.

Sunflour

Sunflour is very popular, especially with anyone who owns an iPad and likes using that iPad in public. Sunflour is visited by Chinese women who like being in bakeries that are set within the foreign-populated Anfu Rd.

The food at Sunflour is good, with a clear menu. While some drinks are ridiculously over-priced – tea for 25 RMB or more – they have very nice bread, well-made sandwiches, good smoothies and a large, freshly baked selection in the counter.

Though it appears to be very ‘developed’, some ‘developing’ flaws seep through: one day the cashier was coughing everywhere, so, although against my polite nature, I said “you’re coughing everywhere, it’s not really good”

Her reply: “I’m sick.”

“Can you perhaps use a tissue or something then?!”, I said.

Later I heard her boss and colleagues discuss her illness. Their solution? They made her wear a facemask. Send her home, you say? She’s serving food, you say? Well, this is not somewhere else, this is here, and sending staff home due to illness doesn’t seem to be the norm. So she carried on working, coughing away.

I believe that the place is owned or built by David Laris, someone who owns some restaurants in Shanghai. I’ve never met him, he might be a very nice man. But he does seem a bit pretentious – the signature of his catering company is “a David Laris creates production”. Yes. read that again. “a”, “David Laris creates”, “production”. I don’t know whether he has too many yes-men around him, but an ego shouldn’t be allowed to spin this wildly out of control, so that people use their names in such incorrect sentences.

Anyway: Sunflour is definitely a good place to get bread. If you sit there for a while, you will be engulfed by the strong perfume favoured by local ladies, as well as be the target of their posing. Whether you are into that kind of thing or not, is your call.

Baker & Spice

 Baker & Spice is, apparently, a ‘Wagas Concept’. It has never been made clear why they believe a bakery to be a ‘concept’, or what Baker & Spice does that is so highly ‘conceptual’. Maybe if it said “a Wagas Concept creates production”, we’d have more or less arrived at a Holy Grail of silliness.

Anyway, the quality is high at Baker & Spice, their bread is good, and while it will always feel over-priced (it isn’t) to pay their prices for bread or sandwiches, it’s a solid option. The problem with Anfu Rd. is the apparent lack of seating, and that the outdoors seating in particular makes one feel a bit weak. Why is this? I’m not exactly sure, but it revolves around the fact that when you are in China and get to close to the centre of the expat bubble, you may feel a bit like a fraud.

I mean, you know those people you are really bubble-lovers: they live in high-rise, expensive compounds, the only part of China they touch is the pavement in-between exiting their Buick people-carrier and entering their favourite Western restaurant or shopping mall?

Well, going purely on first-glance, prejudicial assumptions, the ‘gals’ who frequent Anfu Rd. Baker & Spice seem like these kind of people. This is, again, based purely on jump-to-conclusion, unfair guess-work. But anyway, being over the line of acceptable expatism may lead you to run, run far away from former-French Concession bakeries and hurl yourself straight into the nearest hole-in-the-wall noodle frier, to slurp down some tasty noodles, fixatedly repeating “I am not like them, I am not like them”, with a mouthful of yummy mian.

I digress: Baker & Spice is a reliable source of baked goods, no doubt.

Marienbad

Marienbad lacks bread, but, is a wiser choice than Sunflour, depending on your personal tastes. We are not sure which Lordy Maestro ‘created’ this ‘production’, but it’s quiet, feels airier, has sweeter staff, and is essentially a very relaxing place. It’s not such a pose-factory as Sunflour has become, so you are encouraged to try out Marienbad if you are meeting someone for a chat, conversation, or some cosy time talking in relative peace and quiet.

The above photo was taken in 2007, so, it almost goes without saying that the opposite view is now different and something has been ‘renovated’ there.

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Categories: Food

Author:developingcityblog

Foreigner in Shanghai

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