With a swanky, low-lit interior, simple European menu and extensive wine selection we had high expectations for Julu Lu’s latest restaurant, a transplant from Pudong. Unfortunately it’s let down by so-so dishes coupled with high prices.
Antoni offers Spanish cuisine in three courses, preceded by a complementary and pleasing slate of assorted amuse bouche. Starters range from a signature dish of ratatouille-like ‘gypsy’ vegetables (RMB85) to manchego and tomato salad (RMB95) to fried mixed seafood (RMB105). They’re all fine but slightly imbalanced and lacking refinement. There are roasted cherry tomatoes all over the place, the stewed vegetables are bland and the manchego is eye-winking fierce.
The mains, divided cleanly into half a dozen choices each of seafood and meat, are simply stated and simple in execution. An Emmental baked pork rib with brandy apple (RMB175) was not the evocative, succulent, roasted affair we expected but pork chops covered in cheese. The stewed lentils and chorizo (RMB195) was as rich as it sounded but not delicious. Likewise the Sammi lamb cakes with mint yogurt (RMB210) were too straightforward and lacked effort, we felt. The most sophisticated item on the table was a fine bottle of Spanish Tempranillo (RMB380).
All is set to the theme of shadow play. Bright spotlights pierce tabletops and areas of the restaurant, leaving the second floor’s gabled ceiling floating menacingly overhead. Aside from an odd frieze on the wall comprising huge white cogs, it does ooze an air of luxury, but at these prices the food needs to excel. Here’s hoping Antoni can slip a more considered selection of offerings between the menu’s leatherbound sheets.
- 021 5204-9879
- 794 Julu Lu, near Shaanxi Lu [map]
- ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆