People often ask how we writers get our scoops on F&B openings. The truth is, we’re not omniscient—we’re vultures. We troll WeChat feeds and circle over familiar neighborhoods like birds of prey, feeding solely on tapas and craft cocktails. And yet, things do occasionally escape our notice.
A new gastropub can open up, quietly—by Shanghai standards—on Taicang Lu and not one single peep will be heard from an expat magazine. The Refinery, however, is impossible to miss if you make Xintiandi your frequent walking path. This two-story gastropub is a factory-cum-brewpub, replete with brick, incandescent bulbs and metal piping. But it’s still remarkably warm and inviting especially when coming out from the cold.
You don’t need any other hint to know that it’s owned by the group behind Shanghai Brewery, as the labels monopolize the beer menu. They have a selection of their best-selling beers including North Star IPA, West River Weizen and their Black Eyed Bear Stout, plus an additional pale ale from local brewery Fat Dragon.
Their specialty cocktails are almost all sweet, fruity and surprisingly delicious. The tart, blueberry-based Xintiandi Diva (RMB75) and dangerously sweet Shanghai Sailor (RMB75) are standouts, if that’s your palate.
They also have an extensive food menu, which feels like an upscale version of what the Donghu Lu Shanghai Brewery was trying to do with their former menu. They offer a number of big, hearty meat and seafood-heavy dishes; think lobster, German-style sausage dishes, beer-battered onion rings and corn dusted with spices and chipotle butter.
Refinery is a beautiful gastropub that caters both to the tourist and XTD business meetings circuit. Service is also pretty spot-on, though that could change when crowds roll in. It’s got an appealing (albeit cookie-cutter) post-Industrial Revolution-chic ambiance about it, but the food and drink here are not so revolutionary.
What: The Refinery
Where: Unit 01A No. 10-12, 181 Taicang Lu (near Madang Lu) 太仓路181弄10-12号01A (近马当路)
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