It used to be that Eastern European restaurants in Shanghai were places people didn’t take seriously and only went to when they wanted a change. They were gimmicks, nothing more. Bloc changes this. Finally, the city has delicious, well-presented regional cuisine that will make it on your list of places to return to.
Situated in the space where Avalon used to be, it keeps the simple yet elegant décor, though you should still avoid the uncomfortably upright booths in the main dining room. Instead, head to the terrace up in the trees above Changle Lu’s local fashion boutiques.
The menu is simple and elegant, offering a pleasingly short selection of dishes with their own takes on classics including qunoa, borscht, goulash, pierogis and chicken Kiev. The twist with Bloc is that they’re each considered and contemporary enough to avoid falling into the trap of becoming overly niche or hearty reproductions of dishes now outside of their own context.
Take their light, balanced sweet potato and goat’s cheese pierogi dumplings (RMB40), or the full-flavored beetroot, pork and beef borscht (RMB35 a cup). Both are clearly reminiscent of their homeland dishes, but attentively refined and presented. At this price, we’re a step above provincial cuisine but that’s alright. The seared salmon salad (RMB85), featuring a phenomenal slab of crusted fish alongside dressed greens and a mixed ratatouillie-like mixture, is enough to knock anybody’s socks off.
Followed by a tender marjoram-marinated loin chop with sour-apple sauce, potato pancakes (RMB138) and a slice of banana-meringue cake (RMB50), Bloc has managed to pull off something we didn’t expect. Sit back and enjoy it with one of their Lipton tea vodka cocktails (RMB50) in hand.
2/F, 139-19 Changle Lu 长乐路139-19号2楼 Tel: 6404-6685
This is from my review in Cityweekend – see the full listing here.