New speakeasy-style bistro keeps it casual
The same relaxing vibe Chez Jojo is renowned for will extend to a second location. As a bonus, the space’s hidden location, lovely courtyard garden, a menu focused on smaller plates and a bigger wine selection make it a go-to gathering spot.
Maggie Shen opened the original Chez Jojo at the corner of Fenyang and Yueyang roads in 2018, inspired by the typical guinguette — a popular and humble eatery mostly found in countryside France, particularly in the Loire Valley.
She wanted to bring the authentic guinguette spirit to Shanghai — casual, relaxing and unpretentious.
The original Chez Jojo gained its loyal followers by offering affordable French fare and an open-air space with the feel of a riverside guinguette.
Shen continued looking for good locations to house future ventures. The newly opened space stays true to the original concept but is more hidden and mysterious. In true speakeasy style, patrons must request a password to enter and then walk through a dark closet.
Upon exiting the closet, they’re greeted by a beautiful, spirit-lifting inner courtyard, featuring wooden tables, well-groomed plants and bamboo trees.
Much like a traditional French guinguette, the new Chez Jojo is a place where people simply have a good time with friends over no-fuss French family items, from foie gras terrine and beef tartar to cheese, cold cuts and tomahawk.
The new focus is sharing plates and drinking from the well-crafted wine menu.
The food is also lighter and seasonal compared to the original venue, famous for its charcoal-grilled steaks.
I began a pleasant evening seated in the charming courtyard by sampling some of the starters — fine de claire oysters, egg mimosa, chorizo in red wine and beef carpaccio.
Director Arnaud loves to recommend good wine and food pairings, so diners can’t go wrong by following his counsel.
Egg mimosa is a well-executed old-world recipe — pickled eggs topped with mayonnaise and crispy smoked pancetta — a nice appetizer to pair with a glass of riesling from Alsace, France. Chorizo in red wine was another favorite I ordered a bit later when the mood struck me. Spicy sausage cooked in red wine, onions and herbs, which was heavier than other starters but a good pairing with Arnaud’s wine suggestion.
Fourteen different wines — mostly French — are sold by the glass, including red, white, rose and sparkling.
Opening hours: 11am-midnight
Address: 291 Fumin Rd
Average price: 120 yuan