As social media queen Tiffany Dowd found out on her first visit to Shanghai last week, watching kite-flying on The Bund is one of the city’s greatest delights, and it is free. Especially if it is a fine weekend morning, old men stay young by flying complicated kites high overhead. Sometimes, indeed, the gal is not sure if a soaring hawk is feathered, or merely a paper facsimile. The unique Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is one of the three luxury hotels right on The Bund that is ideal for watching kite-flying from your suite – you need to be staying, however, in the 1910-vintage Heritage Wing rather than the century-younger Sichuan Road building.
This six year old hotel is unique in having these two separate buildings, joined by what can best be described as a hundred-yard indoor catwalk, light and breezy and ideal for fashion shows, especially since models can process down 21 elegant steps from this walkway to the Grand Brasserie on its lower level. I did not process, on this visit, but I did pop in to the Long Bar, renowned for its oysters. Last week, by the way, World Whisky Day was celebrated here with two master classes led by the author of the annual leading tome, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Apparently these days, throughout China, whisky sales are soaring: groups of young ladies enjoy sharing whisky flights, to learn more – brandy and cognac, by contrast, are seen as old people’s drinks.
Across the 1910-heritage courtyard from the Long Bar, renowned for its oysters, is Pelham’s restaurant, named in honour of Sir Warren Pelham who founded the original building. One end of the 50-seat restaurant is completely glassed-in as a wine wall. The other end is the glassed-in kitchen, which is supervised by Brittany chef Jean-Philippe Dupas. It is, indeed, quite French in its offering, with Christofle and Laguiole cutlery (though the china is Japanese Narumi, the quiet sax background music is universal, and the ribeye definitely comes from Aaco farm in Queensland).
But although I favour, definitely and distinctly, what I call unadulterated food, I appreciate presentation. Here what is called a Delmonico steak comes, already sliced into hearty portions, on a platter surrounded by floribunda.
And here, burrata, when it is served by Dupas-style comes with beetroot. The chef says that the luxury hotel buys its burrata made here in China from imported buffalo milk. Honestly, the level of food quality in all the luxury hotels in China these days has increased out of all recognition since my first visit, when I ate duck and old cabbage and little else for three days straight. Everyone says that although tourists are sometimes appalled when they see food hygiene, for locals, in the street, those same locals, at home, are pre-conditioned to highest-possible hygiene levels, and when it comes to eating out, in fine hotel restaurants, this is among the world’s best.
Now back to kite-flying, see the video below.