Char Bar and Grill
Char Bar and Grill is the restaurant of Indigo on the Bund, a hotel at the southern end of the Bund just after where the road turns into Zhongshan Dong Er Road.
The 184-room hotel opened in 2012 and was the first of the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Indigo hotels to appear in Asia-Pacific.
On its top floors (29 and 30) you’ll find The Char Bar and Grill, the bar being on the 29th, the Grill on the 30th. Both have terraces and incredible views across the Huangpu River to the skyscrapers of Pudong and north along the Bund.
There are other steak restaurants in Shanghai, but Char Grill claims to be the best. It has some pedigree. Indigo Hotels are part of IHG, and it draws on Intercontinental’s expertise. I was reminded of excellent meals in the Steak House wine bar and grill in the Intercontinental Hong Kong for instance, particularly in the choice of salts and knives brought ceremonially to your table by the waiters with the blade and handle of each described. But Indigo carves (sorry) its own place, being more informal, and with views that the Hong Kong restaurant can only dream of.
The bar on the floor above means you can have a drink before or after dinner. We went straight to the restaurant since it was a Saturday night and the bar was very busy.
The Grill has dark wood floors and ceiling, comfortable floral-covered chairs, dim lighting to make the most of the views but with helpful spot lights above the tables so you can read the menus. Staff greeted us, showed us to the table (once they had located the booking), and we had a table for two overlooking the Bund northwards and across the river.
The restaurant takes up the whole of the 29th floor, and on the far side is a spill-over restaurant which also acts as a private dining room (with its own bar).
There’s a long wine list with a good choice by the glass both for whites, reds and Champagnes, with Bollinger seeming to be the promotional Champagne, certainly it comes in branded glasses.
Char’s menu changes seasonally – when we were there we caught the end of the Spring menu which by the time you read this will doubtless have moved into the Summer menu.
Our starters were spicy watermelon salad, grilled haloumi cheese, smoked chili sauce, rocket leaves, coriander & red onion (RMB118). This was delicious, with the haloumi enlivened by the chili sauce, and the combination cooled by the cubes of watermelon. Simple, but just right for waking up your taste buds before the main course.
We also had Scallops tiradito, dragon fruit, mango ponzu, pickled cucumber, apple-almond salad, the scalops sliced as thinly as the dragon fruit, and alternating in a circle on the dish – attractively presented and again, very tasty.
As an appetizer to the main grill you could also choose oysters – I jotted down the options: Gillerdeau – la maison de Gillardeau, France; Ancelin – Marenne d’Oleron, France; Tia Maraa – Waterford, Ireland; Irish Harty – Dungarvan, Ireland and Tasmania – Australia.
Nevertheless, it is the steaks that most visitors come for, and here the range and quality is impressive.
Descriptions are fulsome, for instance
“Blackmore Wagyu beef is the international award winning, premium beef from Australia, fed for 600 days using traditional Japanese farming methods in sustainable healthy Australian countryside. This 100% fullblood Japanese Wagyu has a marble score 9+ making it one of the best in the world.”
This comes in two choices – a 180g fillet served with grilled foie gras, confit Brittany lobster superior oscietra caviar, sautéed wild mushrooms & shaved truffles (RMB 2188) and a 120g fillet served with grilled foie gras, Mediterranean red prawn sautéed wild mushrooms & shaved truffles (RMB 988)
Next up is the Shiro Kin fullblood Wagyu “the Shiro Kin brand is derived from the fullblood Wagyu cattle that are direct descendants of Japanese Wagyu with no outside influence of other breeds, the cattle are produced from Tajima sires with a focus of Japanese Dam lines of Kedaka and Shimane, fed for a minimum of 500 days of Japanese diet formula and sent chilled directly to Char, this Wagyu striploin is marble 9”
And so it goes on.
Since there were two of us dining we went for a shared dish – the 1kg Diamantina Wagyu Porterhouse Steak “Diamantina Wagyu is sourced from the finest Japanese Wagyu genetics available. It is a unique combination of the best breeds in a pristine environment with careful rearing that results in the exceptional marbling, tenderness and flavor, marble 4 – 5”. This came with a choice of two side dishes and was RMB 1288.
Together with the starters this was enough for anyone, and to be certain of that we then ordered the apple tarte tatin with calvados ice cream, and a berries delight (RMB 98), lime meringue, strawberry sorbet & mousse RMB 78).
The tarte tatin was served by having flaming Calvados poured over it setting the whole dish alight, which was spectacular but rather overshadowed the dish since afterwards it tasted of mainly Calvados. The berries delight was more subtle and light, a good end to an impressive meal.
Most restaurants with a view disappoint; Char Grill doesn’t. Once you stop taking photos and start concentrating on the food, it’s a venue – and a menu – that justifies the prices. In addition, service throughout the meal was excellent. Ask for a table facing the river.
585 Zhongshan Dong Er Road, Huangpu,
+86 21 3302 9999;