The buzz: Until now, Shanghai’s Swiss population has had to make do with ersatz French fondue and whatever morsels of cheese they can persuade their visiting friends to smuggle in for them. No longer. Chalet Suisse, a new beacon of Helvetic homecooking, has landed.
The décor: Wood. It’s all about wood. Even the outside is panelled with pale pine. Indoors there’s plaid - red and white gingham. This lends a definite air of Switzerland to the décor, along with retro prints and photos of rolling hills and razor-like mountains. There’s a bar at the back.
The food: To the uninitiated, the raclette could be mistaken for an Inquisition-era torture device. But for those in the know, it’s a purveyor of pure pleasure. A big half-moon of cheese is secured into a metal vice, and a heated bar suspended above. The heat melts the top layer of cheese, which is scraped off and eaten with boiled potatoes and pickles. It’s a Swiss staple, and we were keen to discover if Shanghai’s newest (and very possible it’s first) would go the distance. For 198 RMB per person, you can have as much cheese as you like (they bring it to your table as and when you need it, so you don’t have to wrangle with the raclette device yourself), and unlimited boiled potatoes and homemade pickles. It’s a meal in itself. There’s fondue, salad, and other Swiss dishes on the menu, but the raclette stands out. According to the Swiss couple on the table - beside us, it was perfectly authentic. We were sold; it was delicious. Our only criticism would be that if one person at the table wants raclette, everyone has to have it. As it happened, both my dining partner and I were happy with this, but I can imagine scuffles breaking out if one person on a table of 10 diners wanted raclette and no-one else did...
The drinks: What goes better with a cheese feast than a good red wine? We tried the Swiss house pour, as well as the house white, and both were top-range.
Why you’ll be back: If you’re Swiss, you’ll love it. If you’re not Swiss, the chances are you’ll love it too, especially if you like cheese and chalet décor. It’s not cheap though – expect to pay upwards of 600 RMB for a meal with wine.
Find it: Chalet Suisse is located on that little stretch of Kangding Lu between Wuning Nan Lu and Wanhangdu. There’s a recently opened bakery next door, and an imported food emporium two doors down. 1582 Kangding Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu. 3353 3887. Open Tue-Sun 5:30-11pm.