A blend of grandeur, divine cuisine and soap
Grand Banks is the kind of restaurant and lounge that shows you how sophisticated ambience and charming historical details elevate a food-and-drink experience to new heights.
With a prime location on The Bund in one of the stunning neoclassical buildings on Sichuan Road M., it housed the Chinese headquarters of Brunner Mond a century ago, a major player in the soap industry.
Grand Banks, situated on the first level, retains imposing French windows and charming details that pay homage to the golden age of Shanghai when East met West. Interior designer and restaurant partner Chris Shao (Chris Shao Studio and Objective Gallery) gave the space a new life by balancing the silhouette of the past with modern aesthetics and subtle details throughout. A sense of luxury, grandeur and airy openness permeates the space.
The most intriguing feature is its cocktail bar with vintage-style glamor. Facing the striking arch-top French windows, the bar is the perfect place to meet for pre-dinner cocktails, crafted by mixologist Klaus Yu (formerly of The Shanghai EDITION), who blends Chinese ingredients and local elements in his libations.
Cuisine at Grand Banks features small plates infused with Mediterranean and Asian flavors. The food menu is designed to pair with the house cocktails and extensive wine list for those who enjoy whiling away quality time in the dimly lit, refined dining room.
The food presentations are inspired by the historical nature of the building. For example, the Grand Banks Soap is a cool idea: a bar of "soap" presented inside a vintage glass plate that pays homage to the building's history. It's actually duck liver pate with lemon-apple jam on the side to help balance its richness.
Cheek & Rouge is another eye-teasing dish that easily confused diners. It's presented like tiramisu in a mug, but dig into it and you'll find chunks of shredded beef cheek covered with potato puree foam.
Other dishes like kimchi risotto cater to the Asian palate. The risotto is made softer than usual, with sea urchin adding a velvety richness to it.
A secret for late night drinkers is comforting orders like laksa and beef noodle.
Grand Banks also offers brunch with an individual set including one entree, one side and a welcome drink for 198 yuan (US$30.57). Adding one hour of free flow brunch cocktails is 188 yuan.
Opening hours: 5:30pm-midnight (Tuesday-Friday); 11:30am-4pm, 5:30pm-midnight (weekends)
Address: F101, Bldg 1, 133 Sichuan Rd M.
Average price: 470 yuan (US$72.59)