The Purple Onion (venue closed)
Address: Lane 351, No. 16, Huashan Lu, near Changshu Lu / 华山路351弄16号, 近常熟路
Tel: 6248 8747
Price: [Lunch] 128 RMB/set [Dinner] 200-250 RMB/person
The Purple Onion serves David Laris’ Mediterranean comfort dishes in the former A Future Perfect lane house space. The secluded outdoor patio, now furnished with new black wicker chairs, is as inviting as ever, but alas the weather in Shanghai has taken a plunge since earlier this week so we were not able to enjoy it. Still, this did not stop us from trying their lunch menu, which is 128 RMB for three courses plus a drink. A good deal? Let’s see it.
What I love most about the outdoor space at The Purple Onion is that it’s tucked away in a secluded lane, so you won’t be inhaling car fumes like you do at Cantina Agave or Mr. Pancakes House or most other outdoor patios in Shanghai. With the rain, however, we were forced indoor, which is much more somberly decorated. Black walls, black light fixtures, portraits of random dead Europeans, complete with a plastic resin buck’s head mounted on the wall.
Somber wall decors
But there are some sparkling spots indoor as well. For lunch, we opted for the comfortable and brightly-lit window seats furnished with light purple cushions.
Caprese salad done our way
This is a DIY platter consisting of cherry tomatoes on the vine, a mound of fresh basil, bocconcini, a pile of sea salt, a dish of olive oil, and a dish of Balsamic vinegar. A fun alternative to the usual Caprese salad presentation, but not ideal for the lazy ones who prefer their tomatoes sliced and dressed.
Hand cut veal bolognaise
A bowl of decent bolognaise, nothing to sing about.
Prosciutto and rocket with mascarpone pizza
The pizza is not a difficult one since all the toppings are the usual crowd favorites – prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, mascarpone, and the right amount of chopped rocket and spices. My only complaint is that the crust is too burnt on the sides, probably because it is so thin (more like crackers than the usual pizza crust). If you like your pie to be a little chewy, try Issimo or The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo.
Baked cinnamon custard with poached fruits
The one and only dessert option was a baked cinnamon custard, served with two slices of poached pears and a few blueberries. It was delicately but decisively flavored with cinnamon and light enough to eat comfortably after a full meal, but not so light as to leave you wanting more. A nice finish.
The Purple Onion satisfies. The food is decent, the atmosphere is comfortable, and the service is attentive without being overly intrusive. Will come back to try their brunch or the “grazing menu”, which is all day available small bites like chicken liver pate, sardine tomato toastie, and pickled octupus with fresh sourdough.