Monday, October 01, 2007

Shanghai Blues - Notes of Class

In our search for live music eateries, we'd never previously considered Shanghai Blues. It looks a bit scary and unwelcoming, hidden inside a door-manned building on a busy road near Holborn. Plus, I'd never seen it in Time Out and the like, and thus hadn't really twigged that the "blues" bit was a reference to live music. But now, luckily, our ignorance of the place has been remedied by a Saturday night visit. This is the kind of place where you wouldn't feel at all out of place in your swirliest cocktail dress, and where the doorman will shoo you away in a pair of shorts. We had got our act together too late for a table in the restaurant, and so lounged instead on sofa-type seats in the bar. The really rather good jazz band played from a balcony above us (though you can sit on that level too, possibly with a cover charge). The cocktail list looked stunning, but £8 a pop. So we opted instead for a delicious bottle of New Zealand sauvingon blanc (at £25 this was the cheapest thing on the shortened bar wine list - though they may well be cheaper options in the extended version - but this was no vin de pays, so I didn't mind paying). It came with free nibbles of spicy nuts and prawn crackers. In a way, it was a bonus that they put the bottle in an ice bucket out of our reach, or it would have gone much more quickly! The £12 selection of dim sum dumplings from the short bar menu certainly didn't hang around. The dumplings were tender and delicious, though far too few in number to make much of a dent in my hunger. Next time we will book in advance, bring the credit card and settle in for a night of sophistication. Alternatively, this would be a great place to come for a cocktail to kick start a night out - £8 isn't so much if you only have the one, especially if you factor in the free nibbles, the free music and the glamorous setting.

Shanghai Blues, 193-197 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD; Tel: 20-7404-1668; Tube: Holborn;

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