There was a time in Shanghai's gastronomic history when the king of dining was the all-you-can-eat buffet. Each weekend, every five star Hotel in the city would flex it's gastronomic prowess by turning their kitchens inside out. Hungry hordes could sit and gorge from a virtually endless supply of global cuisines.
In their heyday there were two bastions of the weekend buffet. The Westin; on the Bund side of the river, with it's free flow Veuve Clicquot Champagne, string quartets and trapeze artist... and the Pudong Shangri-La; with seemingly endless food stations, impeccable service and bonkers deserts.
In recent times, Shanghai has become a slightly more discerning horde. We've witnessed the rise of more precision brunch comfort food like The Public's fried-chicken-on-a-waffle and Madison's peanut butter and jelly sundae. There's been a de-gentrification of the city brunch ethic, back to it's roots of doing what you could probably do at home in your pyjamas. We've almost abandoned the idea of bountiful treasures for a plate of something familiar.
Then the Jing'An Shangri-La comes along and does them both.
You might know the 1515 West Chophouse for it's sultry surrounds, artisanal focus and fine steaks. Take that concept, cover it in raw seafood, throw a cheese dairy at it, layer it with parma ham and sprinkle oysters over the top. Then serve a New York Strip with two eggs - over easy.
That's exactly what you get. For a hefty ¥750 price tag comes access unfettered access to 1515's rooms of produce, a couple of specials and a choice from their main course menu. If you can get that far.
For you see, it will take a composition stronger than a hundred bears to get beyond the produce rooms. They're where 1515s regular weekday magic happens, opened up for the weekend like brunch sub-games full of some of the finest ingredients ...
... and that's all before the main events start. From the trolley, given the right nod, come a selection of 1515's specials. On our visit we were talking a spiced steak tartae and a parmesan laden Ceasar Salad. Oh, and a waffle, french toast and pancake trio.
Then comes the actual main course. An option from 1515s menu of classic brunch dishes. We're talking Corned Beef Hash, Chicken & Waffle, Full English breakfast and, of course, Steak & Eggs and a slightly lighter... and seemingly apt - Black Cod.
Probably the most comprehensive high-class meal in the country. Every mouthful an impeccably sourced, masterfully presented and ultimately over indulgent example of what it takes to throw in the towel feeling like a greek god. Well, maybe after this last mint macaron. It is just wafer thin.