The villla that sits on the corner of Hengshan Lu looks both stately and a little showy, its blush exterior and big fabric light fixtures lending a touch of informality to an imposing old structure. Sasha’s also features a second floor restaurant, which is far more formal than the ground floor bar; it has a certain stuffiness that complements the fine dining aspirations of the kitchen. But it doesn’t reel in the drinkers downstairs.
Dinner at Sasha’s can be divided into two camps: pizza, a burger, or a sandwich on the ground floor, or a more rigid affair upstairs. We tried the latter. The dining room, which sits adjacent to the second floor kitchen, was strikingly silent on our two visits. The lack of turnover here affected our meal in apparent ways: bread was served past its time, and a glass of Shiraz was oxidized and flat.
The food improved upon the situation. A rich, creamy risotto was perhaps a bit overdone, but its creamy texture and earthy blend of truffled mushrooms was hard to resist. A tender but underseasoned lamb loin was thoughtfully paired with smoky lentils and roasted garlic, surrounded by pools of jus. On another evening we sat through a wine dinner where the chef sometimes shined and occasionally stumbled through five courses; overall, this kitchen seems more comfortable in the realm of red meat. Sasha’s is a solid option for a well-cooked take on lamb or steak, but it has to raise its game to compete in what is fast becoming a competitive fine dining field.
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