New Shanghai restaurant opening by Jason Atherton- casual social dining with tapas, dessert and cocktails
July 25th, 2013
Introducing Shanghai diners to the latest iteration of his trend-setting casual fine dining concept, acclaimed UK chef Jason Atherton recently opened his second restaurant in Shanghai- The Commune Social. Atherton’s first solo venture, in his now rapidly expanding UK and Asian restaurant group, was Table No 1 at the Shanghai design boutique hotel- The Waterhouse at South Bund- which opened in 2010 and was the first expression of his casual fine dining concept. Now with the opening of The Commune Social in April 2013, the concept has evolved to more closely follow the template of recent restaurant openings by Atherton- at Esquina in Singapore, and 22 Ships in Hong Kong, but with added elements taken from other Atherton establishments in the UK. For The Commune Social, the modern tapas cuisine concept of Esquina and 22 Ships is complimented with both stand-alone Dessert, and Cocktail bars, offering guests a variety of dining and sociable options. Moving across from the successful Table No 1 restaurant to head up culinary operations at The Commune Social are the Executive Chef Scott Melvin, and Pastry Chef Kim Lyle – applying their creativity and finely honed cooking techniques to the kitchens at the new restaurant.
Set within a section of a restored redbrick police station in a leafy city street in central Shanghai, The Commune Social exemplifies an industrial chic design ethos with a minimalist decor of whitewashed walls, re-claimed timber floorboards, exposed ceiling beams, recycled timber benches and steel counter tops. Comprising a series of compact rooms and spaces, across several levels, and interconnected by passageways and concrete steps, the layout lends an element of intrigue as the different spaces are revealed. The internal courtyard adds a particularly pleasant aspect at the core of the restaurant- a genuine haven of calmness and escape from the bustling metroplis outside.
The culinary program at The Commune Social adopts much of the same concept of modern tapas cuisine that has proven so popular in other Atherton restaurants. Selections of tapas dishes are categorised on the signature paper place-mat menus in a straightforward manner under headings such as Para Picar; Seafood; Eggs; Meat; Vegetables; and Grill. Dishes are designed for sharing- at very approachable prices for the quality of the cuisine. At the sleek, all-white Dessert Bar, diners sit at the white tiled bar as their dessert choices are created to order. And upstairs in the Cocktail Bar, bar manager and head mixologist Rashid Ghuloom serves up well-crafted cocktails from a concise list of innovative and whimsically named concoctions. The drinks menu features selections of premium spirits, plus Spanish red and white wines, sherries and ports, Spanish beers, plus soft drinks and hot teas and coffee.
The Social Commune adopts one of the hallmarks of other Atherton restaurants in Asia- the concept of the de-formalising fine dining- dispensing with the stuffy formality of the traditional fine dining experience, and bringing gourmet cuisine to the street front in an accessible, casual and relaxed setting. And with its policy of NO RESERVATIONS and NO SERVICE CHARGE everyone is treated equally.
Tapas Bar • Dessert Bar • Courtyard • Cocktail Bar
A sociable “U” shaped tapas bar wraps around part of the open kitchen- giving diners an up-close interaction with the culinary team.
The tapas bar counter is faced with reclaimed timber boards that match the flooring and partial wall paneling. Industrial steel Chalkboards display daily menu specials. Paper place-mat menus are a feature of other Atherton tapas-style restaurants in Singapore and Hong Kong.
A compact dining room occupies a narrow space connecting the tapas bar and kitchen at the rear with the Dessert Bar, and overlooks the outdoor courtyard.
A sleek, all-white minimalist decor differentiates the Dessert Bar from the other dining and bar spaces. Guests seated at the counter observe close up as their dessert selections are prepared by Pastry Chef Kim Lyle and her team.
The Dessert Bar occupies a narrow room at the front of the restaurant, with a large window looking out onto the street.
Occupying part of a restored police station compound, the courtyard is well-utilised as an attractive outdoor section for dining or casual drinks.
A couple of trees add a soothing “natural” element to the courtyard- enclosed within the red brick walled main building and the charcoal-grey rendered walls of the restaurant section.
A narrow set of concrete stairs between the rear kitchen and dining room leads to an upper level space that holds the intimately proportioned cocktail bar.
Opening off the upper level cocktail bar- an expansive timber deck wraps around the front of the main building. In the near future this space will be furnished with outdoor tables providing a further option for enjoying casual open-air drinks, with a green, tree-top outlook.
Selections from the Tapas Menu & Dessert bar
Sea Urchin, pepper butter on Ciabatta .
Tomato tar-tar, sour dough, tomato air dressing.
Marinated Seabass, gazpacho dressing and garnish.
Fried egg, black pudding, capers and anchovy.
Foie-gras and duck empanada, caper and burnt onion jam.
Creme Catalan- from the Dessert Bar menu
London Julep- Bombay Sapphire gin, mint, cucumber, elderflower, lemon, garden party.
Spicy Pollen- Bacardi 8 year rum, chilli-honey, blood orange, citrus.
Seducing Miss Sharpe- Absolut citrus vodka, Wybrowa rose vodka, peach liqueur, vanilla, cranberry, citrus kiss, flowers and a note.
Cereal Killer- Goslings black seal rum, Kahlua, vanilla syrup, chocolate bitters, coco-balls infused milk, kim’s cookies.
Signature Sangria- served at all Atherton tapas restaurants in Asia.
Tapas Menu May 2013
The Commune Social- tapas.dessert.bar- by Jason Atherton- Shanghai
Address: 511 Jiangning Road, Shanghai 200041. China
Metro: Line 7 Changping Rd
Inquiries: +86.21. 6047 7638
NO RESERVATIONS • NO SERVICE CHARGE
Opening Hours: Daily
Lunch : 12:00 pm ~ 2:30 pm (3:00 pm Sat & Sun)
Dinner: 6:00 pm ~ 10:30 pm (except Sunday- no dinner served)