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Macasa is a textbook example of an earnest but diluted attempt at fine dining. Nestled in a cozy courtyard in the Shanghai Library neighborhood, we could barely believe this was previously Boonna. It’s amazing what a couple of knocked-through walls and a heap of rustic material can do for a space.

Now, it has transformed into an attractive, two-floor restaurant covered in old doors, metal surfaces and Edison light bulbs. All of this seems to be paying tribute to Jason Atherton's Commune Social.

The menu is also curiously similar to the aforementioned popular tapas bar. It emphasizes on naming dishes by ingredients verbatim. This is a device often used in high-end cuisine where each element is expertly sourced and palate defining.

With Macasa, it borders on confusing and deflating. An Australian sirloin steak served with a reduction of gravy and bone marrow infused breadcrumbs (RMB98) is bland and lacking the contrast we’d hoped for. Similarly, a bowl of fava beans (RMB58) is firm and watery in all the wrong places.

At this price, the portions served are all too small. Macasa’s angle is of global Western tapas which ultimately reads as a little meager. The heartiest item on offer is an uninspiring mixture of baby potatoes, tomatoes and paprika with a parmesan crust (RMB58) served in a beautiful Le Creuset dish.

Much better is a duo of hearty scallops wrapped in pancetta (RMB78) that left us wanting more. Everything feels like it’s trying too hard right down to the desserts section, which includes a pineapple sorbet that’s comically branded as “snow” (RMB48).

Perhaps the three owners have ratcheted up the pressure on themselves to punch above their weight. This shows in a slightly intense service. We wish there's less of an emulation of echelon dining and a more home-style approach to the menu for such a welcoming and rustic villa. Until then, for more than RMB200 per person, there are many better offerings in the vicinity.

  • Macasa
  • 021 5456-1214

  • 1690 Huaihai Zhong Lu (near Hunan Lu) [map]
  • 上海市淮海中路1690号 (近湖南路)

  • Spanish
  • ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
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