New & Noted: Melting Pot Upstairs

What: A relaxed, music cafe started by long running music venue The Melting Pot
Where: Tianzifang, 2F, 288 Taikang Lu, near Ruijin Er Lu. Tel: 6415 8180. Web:
Why: You want French bistro food with your jazz

The Melting Pot is a bit of a Shanghai institution, playing host to house bands with a jazz and R&B slant for years. And over time, the venue has tried to build on the success of its Tianzifang location by expanding to Hengshan Lu and even farther flung Pudong.

Although both of these ventures ultimately closed, undaunted, the Melting Pot has expanded once again, this time much closer to home. The Melting Pot Upstairs, the new music cafe from the Melting Pot, is located directly above the original venue. It can be a little difficult to find; the entrance is located down an alley on the side of the original building. On entering, the place radiates a vaguely traditional Chinese air. Christmas lights wind around dried stalks of bamboo and the chairs are covered in prints of cranes and lillies.

The owner has brought in a chef/restaurateur who's opened several bistros in Paris. And although you can still find pizzas and standard bar fare on the menu, there's now a distinct focus on French food. The Seafood Casserole (RMB 68) smothers crayfish, calamari, mussels and shrimp in a crayfish concoction mixed with cream. Served with a sliced baguette, this hearty dish is perfect for sharing. The Stuffed Eggplant with Fresh Goat Cheese and Tomato Cream (RMB 158) sees a hamburger patty stuffed with imported cheese, then wrapped in slices of eggplant, ready to mix with the tomato concasse - a French hamburger, if you will. Also on the menu you'll find classics like Steak Tartare (RMB 188), Creme Brulée (RMB 38) and a Chocolate Fondant (RMB 46), a "special recipe" served with a side of ice cream.

Also of culinary interest, there's a Soul Food Night every Wednesday (unaffiliated with the new Parisian chef) that offers dishes like Shrimp Ettufait (RMB 58) and Fried Chicken (RMB 88), accompanied with live soul music.