Monday, December 15, 2008

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Tonight I had a great dinner that I'd like to recommend to anybody who reads my weblog from the Zhangjiang area of Pudong. The place is called Jepson Life, located at 201 Ziwei Rd, in between the Nonggongshang grocery store and the southern end of the Zhangjiang pedestrian street. I chose Jepson for two reasons: first, I really like the bread shop on the first floor, and second, it's awkward to eat alone at Chinese restaurants. The Jepson restaurant is on the third floor — it's got a bit of the 80后 flavor to it: bookshelves with books to browse, a big painting on the wall, an outdoor balcony with a single table, and young waiters in snappy matching outfits and glasses. The food ranges from coffee and desserts, to simple spaghetti and pizza dishes, to salads and full steak dinners.

Being in the mood for a well-rounded meal, I started with a "Greek" salad (RMB 15): fresh lettuce, cherry tomato slices, onion, black olives, pine nuts, celery, and a generous dousing of vinaigrette dressing. About halfway through my salad the main course arrived, a beautiful, crispy thin-crust "roast vegetable pizza" (RMB 28) layered thick with cheese and grilled eggplant, tomato, carrot, and red and yellow peppers. Service was snappy even when the place filled up, my cup never lacking for refills of lime-hinted water and left on the table after the dishes had been cleared and I waited for my change; nice touch! Also, for the price I felt like I was really getting my money's worth, a rarity for me here in Shanghai. After dinner I stepped downstairs to pick up a baguette (RMB 8) for late night sandwiches.

Of course, every restaurant has its negative points. In the case of Jepson, the sound system was set to a radio station that played a very grating mix of styles: hip-hop one moment, soft-rock the next. They should invest in a few quality CDs, say, jazz, and keep it consistent. Also, the third floor is small — maybe 8 or 9 tables — which means that when two tables around me lit up, despite the air system's best efforts I still ended up eating through smoke. I recommend asking for a table on the second floor if possible, where there are less tables and less likely to be smokers in the vicinity. Overall though, a great meal in a great atmosphere at a great value. I can't wait to take Jodi out when we come back from our Chinese New Year vacation.

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