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As far as selling points go, declaring molecular gastronomy as a theme for your restaurant is high up the “go big or go home” list. The Cove, with it’s sous vide machine and ambition for something more than a quaint basement café has pulled off a little bit of both.

The truth is that most of the molecules being jiggled here are more in the atmosphere than the food. This 20-seat space is brimming with bookcase chintz, chalkboard cocktail-lists and, on our visit, tables of tremendously shrill youngsters. It’s almost too busy, fitting for a menu spanning Asian rice sets, noodle combos, pizza, molecular burgers and super-salads.

It’s the burgers indeed that take the mantle at the Cove. Not entirely molecular by most expectations, they are still quite something. A red curry snapper burger (RMB48) is a generous sandwich of slow-simmered fish in a zingy sauce surrounded by bacon, shredded lettuce, tomato and onion chutney. It is absolutely never going to stay together and will end up in a gooey heap but somehow it works (except the bacon) and is utterly delicious.

Similarly not quite accurately defined is a cheese and parma ham ‘tortilla’ pizza (RMB40). It’s a mini but generously topped pie with a flat, almost crisp base and plenty of fresh flavor. From the noodle options, a Cove interpretation of Pad Thai (RMB58) features plenty of prawns and squid and curiously fat noodles in a fitting peanut sauce.

Nothing at the Cove is going to win best in class, though they’re almost in a class of their own. Offering tasty and considered interpretations of global cuisine in a casual café environment is sometimes just what we're looking for.

  • The Cove
  • 021 131-6107-0713

  • 118 Xikang Lu (near Nanyang Lu) [map]
  • 上海市西康路118号(近南阳路)

  • European
  • ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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