347 Mini Garden Tasty

What: A Mediterranean restaurant with a hidden patio
Where: 347 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu. Tel: 189 1708 9297 
Why: For fresh, tasty food and warm company in an artistic space
Wulumuqi Lu has a new Spanish restaurant, perfect for the summer, alfresco season. 347 Mini Garden Tasty screams after work drinks or lazy, long weekend afternoons.
The restaurant is tucked away amidst local, hole-in-the-wall eateries, but once you enter the restaurant, you arrive in a completely different world. Art works, painted by owner Calvin Yao, are displayed along the walls, and an ocean-inspired colour scheme greets guests upon their arrival. Surrounded by windows and a patio that separates the cosy entrance hall and dining room, the restaurant strives to create a relaxed, home-like atmosphere.
In the dining room, tables are clad in blue checker tablecloths, a flower, and by night, a candle – a setting worthy of a romantic rendezvous, but the atmosphere and food calls for family-style sharing.
The drinks at Mini are of a high quality, despite a small bar, featuring premium, foreign alcohol. We started our visit by trying their best cocktails - the Vesper (RMB 60), Caipirinha (RMB 50) and Mojito (RMB 50). The Vesper gave the strongest kick of the three, featuring a hint of sweet, freshly squeezed orange amongst the vodka, gin and Lillet Blanc.
Overall, our food was presented with the same artistic flair that Yao envisioned for the restaurant: beautifully decorated, artistically plated dishes, which were made to be shared.
We dug in immediately to our first three appetisers. The Iberian ham croquettes (RMB 69) came to our table steaming and offered the perfect crisp texture with a sinful, creamy taste. Next came their signature octopus salad (RMB 68), fresh and flavourful; the octopus was the shining star. Our last appetiser was the smoked salmon carpaccio (RMB 78), a sweet and savoury crostini topped with salmon, green bell peppers and onions.
Following this came the spaghetti pesto (RMB 68), with fresh crushed basil leaves. We also sampled roast pork spare ribs (RMB 128), which were rubbed with rosemary and served with grilled carrots and asparagus, as well as an addictive mustard seed sauce. The ribs were so tender and juicy that the meat almost fell off the bone. Our entree exploration concluded with Jardin's signature seafood paella (RMB 238 for two to four people, RMB 138 for one), featuring scallops, mussels, prawns, clams, calamari and a very juicy lobster tail.
For our parting desserts, we first sampled the dark chocolate mousse (RMB 46). Not too sweet, this treat contained sea salt. We also selected their panna cotta (RMB 38), which was topped with a berry glaze. The well-balanced sweets were the perfect end to our meal and we will be back soon for more good times on the patio.