Review | Glam: M on the Bund's Fun, Sexy Little Sister

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016 

under Food by Alex Panayotopoulos


The Good
-    Outstanding food
-    Excellent, reasonably-priced cocktails
-    Great chilled out ambience and vibe on prime Bund real-estate

The Bad
-    Still a bit Bund-priced
-    Interior might not be to everyone’s taste

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Glam, the self-described “Glamour Bar 2.0” and Shanghai Stalwart Michelle Garnaut’s latest venture, has subtly reinvented itself as a cocktail lounge rooted in idea of Bund-level quality food, drink and atmosphere at a reasonable price. If you’ve got a little extra money to burn and are looking to class up your evening accordingly, Glam’s might be the best place on the Bund for you.

In case you didn’t know, Glamour Bar was shuttered in 2014 after some shenanigans involving a landlord (and we’re going to completely groundlessly assume male models and one tequila shot too many), so the idea was hit upon to take what used to be M on the Bund’s Crystal Galleria (the room they used to open when the terrace was suddenly uninhabitable thanks to Shanghai’s freak weather), copy-paste some of the furniture and art and call it its own new little thing.

The result is Glam. They call it M on the Bund’s fun, sexy little sister. That’s pretty accurate. Let’s break it down.


Food? M on the Bund.

With M on the Bund’s Executive Chef Hamish Pollitt steering Glam’s kitchen, you can’t really go wrong. The quality’s definitely there, but the attitude’s different from its venerable, respectable sibling, the first restaurant on the Bund, the flagship of the Mpire.

Instead, Glam has a delightfully cheeky sense of fun with the food. It’s in the category names (Fancy Something Fishy, Fancy Something Meaty, etc). It’s in the fact that the food is mostly intended to accompany and enhance a drink. It’s in the fact that it’s just a bit… quirky.

Example; Bean Curd, salt crusted, covered in chili and black beans, (38 RMB) is an odd but fun morsel that becomes as much a conversation piece as a dish. Then there’s the Smoking Salmon (68 RMB), which can’t help but lighten your dour, after-work mood a bit with how just… just ridiculously ostentatious its presentation is in comparison to the relaxed surroundings.


apologies for the phone picture, the majesty was too fleeting to catch with a proper camera

 

For those looking for something a bit more substantial, there’s less imaginative fare like fried chicken with kimchi (108 RMB) and the grilled rib-eye (168 RMB). If you want to be fancy, there’re oysters, but Glam’s strength is definitely in the mid-priced orders made for sharing. The Tonkatsu crumbed pork sandwich (52 RMB) is a delight, and if you’re looking to do the whole cruise in one sitting, there’s a platter of 9 selected dishes for 295 RMB per person (minimum 2 people). Might seem a little bit pricy, but you’re paying for M on the Bund in a lawn-chair.

Apparently, the dynamic duo of Hamish and restaurant manager David Wang (legacy bartender from Glamour Bar) have decided that this is a place for them to experiment a bit with their offerings. They regularly rotate out new dishes, and it’s good to see that they’ve been given leeway to take some risks.

Oh, nearly forgot the deserts, which also change out. We were there when the Pavlova was being served. HHNNNNGH.


Drinks? Delectable.

 

David Wang makes sure that Glamour Bar’s spirit can still be felt behind the bar at Glam. Inspired by the craft cocktail movement, they make their own bitters and a variety of cocktails with interesting twists. They’re pretty damn good.




The Saffron & Spice (78 RMB) with saffron-infused brandy, apricot bitters, star anise syrup and lemon, is an interesting mix of flavors. The Fellini Martini (88 RMB) is a choco-gasm that brings you to a higher chocolate-verse, with the Nutella spirit-hazelnut (like Mr. Peanut, but different parent company) as your coffee-river guide through the chocolate rain forest.  Their spring special Botanical Garden (88 RMB) is exactly what the name sounds like.

 


 

They also let you mix and match your own “fancy pants G&Ts,” with a slew of gins and ingredients like elderflower tonic and cucumber slices or dill wrapped in ice. Depending on the gin, the price’ll range from 88 RMB for Beefeater to 168 RMB for Dodd’s or Monkey 47.

If we’re honest, this is probably the weakest point for us. They were a little overdone, and we’re not sure the initial “hah, that’s weird/cool” reaction to getting your drink in a comically-oversized bowlglass is worth it. But it’s a piddly blemish on a long and impressive list of cocktails that are pretty competitively priced.

There’s also an Enomatic there, which is a pretty ridiculously cool piece of technology. It keeps wine fresh after it’s been opened, and it lets Glam offer taster sized glasses of wines you probably wouldn’t be comfortable ordering even a glass from. It’s a pretty nice little flair, and if nothing else, the fact they got it shows their commitment to giving people a chance to enjoy the finer things in life at a reasonable price.

Ambience? Pulls it all together.

Speaking of the price, the location and the ambience are kind of what make this place special. As an upscale lounge, it’s nice. But as an upscale lounge on the Bund, it’s superb. The interior is tastefully laid-out with an array of small tables and different chairs giving it a very tactfully “thrown together” sort of vibe, and Glamour Bar’s infamous line-up of cultural events is already in full-swing, including the Shanghai LitFest back in March.


The whole point of the place is to provide a lounge for people looking to have a slightly classier than usual drink, either for a meeting, to impress a date or an out-of-town guest, maybe as they’re waiting for their table at M to open up, or just after work or on the weekend. It’s not a bar, it’s not a club, it’s not a place to chug shots or order huge vats of champagne. It’s just kind of its own thing, doing its bit to make the Bund a bit more approachable.

Some people might be looking for something a little more… glitzywhen they’re out for drinks on the Bund, but then again, that’s not what this place is for. It’s designed to encourage you to meet up, drink up, chat, snack and chill. Like what a young financial elite wished their living room looked like.

The Verdict

A cozy lounge bar, with approachably priced, well-made cocktails, refreshingly interesting snacks and welcoming atmosphere. It’s definitely a bit pricier than some might like, but it’s pretty good value-for-money when you consider that they haven’t skimped on the quality you’d expect next door.

Although we like the way it’s laid out, the slightly kooky nature of the art and furniture (and those damn beaded curtains!) might not be to everyone’s liking. Overall, Glam’s a great place to go when you want to feel a little classier with your friends (or a date), so long as you don’t mind dishing out a bit more than usual for the pleasure.

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