Contrary to popular belief, good British grub comes in many guises. Shanghai is sorely lacking in strong offerings, and Mr. Harry does a fairly good job of representing the nation’s most classic dishes. If only the location, service and ambiance were in sync, it would deliver a more genuine experience.
The menu reads like a homesick Englishman’s dream. Pork scratchings, ploughman’s lunches and award winning ale. It’s with a nostalgic tear in our eye that we dive straight into a bowl of superbly tart pickled eggs (RMB18). A couple of petite non-regulation toad in the hole (RMB16) are not quite the masterfully simple sausages inside Yorkshire pudding we hoped for, but are full of flavor and will please anybody not from Yorkshire.
But this reviewer is from Yorkshire, and this kind of food belongs somewhere other than a pokey modern unit in a Nanjing Xi Lu mall. It’s a shame this isn’t a low-lit, wood paneled affair and full of character. With no draft beer we’re left in a spin.
Luckily, not long after a bland ham hock terrine (RMB58) comes an utterly wonderful plate of fish and chips (RMB98). Golden, crisp batter around meaty cod alongside boot-cut chips and pea purée leave no doubt that there are some experienced hands in the kitchen. Homemade bangers (sausages, to the uneducated) served atop a mound of creamy mash and swamped in thick onion gravy (RMB68) are a textbook performance. We barely needed the side dishes of steamed cabbage (RMB36) or bubble and squeak (RMB28). They didn’t enhance either dish anyway.
We also barely had room for dessert, a pity because whiskey and marmalade bread and butter pudding with custard (RMB48) looked like it could bring any man to his knees. We’ll save that for a brunch visit and a chance to try Mr Harry’s self-proclaimed best full-English breakfast in China.