Two Mondays ago some coworkers, Sean, and I hit up the Gourmet Cafe at Shanghai Centre for their “Double Double Monday” burger deal. Having been let down the week before by Malone’s, I was eager to give these so-called “gourmet” burgers a shot.
Gourmet Cafe is a clean, modern space that is at once casual and intimate, with indoor seating as well as picnic tables and loungy sofas on a large outdoor patio overlooking Nanjing West Road. The menu has a creative selection of cheekily/cheesily named burgers, deep-fried appetizers, salads, and milkshakes. It also does happy hour starting at 6pm, during which selected drinks are buy-one-get-one (meaning 16 RMB Coronas :-). Because of its location and clientele, the servers are generally pleasant and speak English.
The place offers lunchtime combo “deals” — which, at 70 RMB for burger+soft drink, is hardly a deal to me — and the more appealing buy-one-get-one burger special on Mondays.
Sean and I ordered the two unappetizingly christened vegetarian options: the Bun Laden and Beano.
The Bun Laden (64 RMB) was not so much a burger as a falafel sandwich. I first had this back in March, and was (and still am) quite impressed with the light and crispy falafel and the soft pita. However, I found the accompaniments a bit lacking this time around; the “yogurt sauce” could’ve been richer and less watered down. Still, it was overall a tasty sandwich.
The Beano (67 RMB) was what I’d come here to try, and it was very satisfying. The patty, made of mixed beans and jalapeno and fried in bread crumbs, was crunchy on the outside, substantial and flavourful on the inside, with a spice kick from the pepper rounding out the patty. The patty expanded from being squeezed as I made my way through the burger, but what do you expect with beans, eh. The burger was filled out with some raw onion, avocado, grated cucumber, and a pillow of greens. It came with salsa and another thin yogurty sauce that didn’t worked quite well, but on the whole, this felt as a burger should feel: big and a little messy, fresh-tasting with varying textures. It gets extra points for standing at least as tall as its meaty counterparts at the table.
In keeping with the clean, light, gourmet thing, the burgers were served with a side of unidentified greens (they were slightly bitter like arugula but didn’t look like arugula) rather than fries, which you could order on the side.
Sean and I also shared a “Mudslide” (35 RMB), a chocolate milkshake blended with a brownie, which was a bit on the sweet side (to me, but just right for Sean). It’d been a while since I’d had a proper milkshake (as opposed to a fruit smoothie), so this was nonetheless really satisfying.
Two solid burgers and a milkshake came to a reasonable 102 RMB. (We could’ve replaced the milkshake with two beers for less money, making this a clear winner over Malone’s.) Given its ridiculous proximity to my office, I’ll probably be back on a Monday :-)
Gourmet Cafe (Shanghai Centre)
1376 Nanjing West Road