Review: The 1515 West, Chophouse & Bar at the Shangri-La

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done a restaurant review here in Shanghai. There has been a flurry of new restaurant openings recently but few have caught my eye until the recent opening of 1515 West Chophouse in the new Jingan Shangri-La Hotel. I’m not a big steak eater per se so I don’t typically get too excited about new steakhouses opening in Shanghai, but after reading about the Wagyu steak sandwiches on the lunch menu at 1515 West, I became intrigued. We are crazy for sandwiches and the prospect of steak sandwiches paired with tasty cocktails proved impossible to resist.

Upon arrival, I immediately sensed good vibes about this place. The restaurant was bustling.  The decor showed a nice balance of a modern steakhouse with stylish touches that harkened back to a vintage 40’s and 50’s era. The entire restaurant is actually a pretty large space that spans almost the entire floor with a main dining room and some smaller room leading into a spacious bar area.

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The menu features a tongue-in-cheek Hollywood movie theme with courses labeled Act One/Scene One (appetizers), Supporting Cast (mains), The Director’s Cuts (steaks), Paparazzi (sandwiches), and more.  1515 West highlights their special Black Angus Wagyu steaks which are produced exclusively for the restaurant from Stanbroke Ranch in Australia, personally selected by the Executive Chef, and aged for a minimum of 45 days. You have the option of ordering a la carte or from their set lunch:  a choice of either a starter or dessert and a sandwich for RMB 168 or all three (starter + sandwich + dessert) for a set price of RMB 188, which is what I did.

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For the starter, I chose the New York Crab Cake which was set on two slices of fresh grapefruit and topped with avocado and watercress.  A great start!

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Since my husband and I were sharing, we thought we should take the opportunity to try two different sandwiches on the menu.  I originally wanted to order The Hand Pulled Smoked Chicken sandwich but they didn’t have it that day so I ended up ordering The Wagyu Jumbo Combo:  a grilled 350g Wagyu Burger with Aged Cheddar Cheese and Smoked Bacon served with fries, spiced ketchup and coleslaw.  Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that they didn’t have the chicken sandwich because this was an absolutely delicious burger.  It was so juicy and I actually liked how they put the bacon on the bottom of the burger so you really taste the flavor of the bacon without having it get lost with the other toppings.  My husband, a proud self-described bacon aficionado, said it’s the best bacon he’s had in Shanghai and I think I might be so bold to say it’s the best burger in Shanghai.

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For the other main, my husband ordered The 1515W Steak Sandwich which features their signature Wagyu steak sliced and marinated in aged Kentucky Bourbon, fried balsamic onions, mustard, and shredded lettuce on a baguette.  This was good quality steak in sandwich form.  The steak was juicy and tender and not chewy and stringy as some steak sandwiches can be.  The bread, such a key component to any sandwich, was also delicious and the mustard gave it a perfect kick.  Overall it was a well made steak sandwich with some tasty fries to boot.

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Everything looked delicious on their dessert menu. Although my first choice was the banana cream pie, I went with “Chef Anthony’s Signature Sundae,” which was described as a chewy chocolate apricot brownie s’more with a choice of favorite ice cream (I chose pistachio).  When the dessert came, I felt a little embarrassed because the portions of the mains were already quite large, and suddenly I had this monstrosity placed before me. When I saw it, I knew I had made a mistake. This creation was simply a hot mess. I suppose the individual components were fine but together it looked and tasted like a something a college student with the munchies came up with at 3am while rummaging through a 7-Eleven.

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Here is a recap of my overall impressions:  Except for the dessert, everything we ordered that day at 1515 West was delicious and I would order it all again.  I’ll have to give some of their other dessert items a shot next time. They serve the fries with their own spiced ketchup which was tasty, but I still prefer the classic Heinz. Like they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  The side of slaw was fine but didn’t do much for me. The burger definitely exceeded my expectations which may have over-shadowed their signature steak sandwich, which was also very tasty. The lunch set prices are a great deal considering the huge portion sizes and the overall quality of the food.  I think two people could actually order just one lunch set to share and add in an extra appetizer or salad.  I also want to mention that the restaurant only offers fancy bottled water and refuses to serve you regular filtered water.  I find this a major turn off since it just makes the customer feel like they are being nickeled and dimed.  I get that most of their clients are probably staying at the hotel on business accounts but what about us regular folk that might want to turn this spot into a more regular dining/bar option.  The only other downside to the meal was the service, which was slow and unorganized.  We had to wait forever to place our order and it was impossible to get anyone’s attention.  In fact, our lunch lasted almost a full two hours!  Unfortunately, bad service is something to expect in Shanghai, and hopefully they are just working out the opening kinks.  That said, I will definitely be making it back to 1515 West for their excellent lunch deal and burger or paying a visit to their bar to try their bar snack menu and cocktails.

The Details:
The 1515 West, Chophouse & Bar | Jing An Shangri-La, 4/F, 1218 Yan’an Zhong Lu, Shanghai China | +(86 21) 2203 8889

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