Shirani and her family are on a mission to find the best family-friendly restaurants in Shanghai. See what she has to say about Garlic.
The Place and the Vibe
Arriving at the newly renovated Garlic on a rainy Saturday night, we were excited as we’ve heard great things about its authentic Mediterranean flavors. The restaurant was inviting, with its dimly lit white table-clothed dining vibe reflected in rainy windows. With a small bar to the left, the restaurant initially screamed ‘date night,’ and we were wary because we had two jetlagged kids dining with us. We were soon enveloped in the warmth and coziness of the place, however, and settled into our private booth. Our table faced the street, which created an enjoyable family intimacy and privacy, and the kids remained entertained with the view throughout the meal. With highchair and plastic cutlery available on request, all wariness quickly dissipated when we stumbled across the basement playroom equipped with two sand play areas, a TV, playhouse, toys and ayi on duty.
The menu is sharing style with pages of mouth-watering dishes that make you want to order everything! In Turkish with English explanations, we still didn’t know what most dishes were and ordered the most popular or new items, with a couple of kid-friendly options (there is no kids menu but they intend to have one soon).
My husband ordered a glass of flavorful Guney Shiraz (RMB75, the entire wine list is Turkish), and I ordered the delicately spiced, yet sweet pomegranate mojito (RMB85), while the kids enjoyed juice.
As a cold starter, we had the karisik meze tabagi (RMB78, four dips of feta, hummus, red pepper and babaganoush). Our 1-year-old attempted to lick the bowls after delightedly dipping balon (paper thin ‘baloon’ like bread) in them. We were brought a few warm starters such as the typically Turkish zeytinyagli yaprak sarma (RMB68, stuffed vine leaves) but the family favorite was Kuzu Tandirli Humus (RMB88), tender tandoori lamb laid on top a wonderfully warmed spiced hummus.
My husband gushed over the bebek kalamar dolmasi (RMB78, stuffed baby calamari with dill, mint and spices) and we were blown away by the flavors of the Peynirli Izgara Mantar (RMB68, grilled portobello mushrooms with Turkish white cheese and zucchini). Specific child-friendly mains were the garlic kofte (RMB115, lamb and beef meatballs) and our 1-year-old couldn’t stop eating the deniz mahsullu taze (RMB90, seafood pasta), devouring the prawns and scallops in the dish.
We ended with some chocolate and vanilla Maras Dondurma (RMB68 Turkish ice cream) for the kids, which was luxuriously indulgent with an unusual ‘sticky’ texture, and the adults shared the cikolata sufle (RMB68 chocolate soufflé) and kunefe (RMB70, angel’s hair pastry with a soft cheese filling and syrup). That was my personal favorite as it was not too sweet, and had a really nice texture. Some Turkish tea and coffee round up the meal nicely at the end.
Kids who find the food spicy or too exotic can opt for pasta, meatballs or just bread with dip. Meat lovers will be amazed by the quality of lamb and beef on hand and a meat platter would satiate the hungriest of teens. The ambience feels romantic and upmarket at dinner, but given the playroom, availability of high chairs, plastic cutlery and pending facility upgrades, the restaurant is certainly child-friendly.
Prices: Starters range from RMB48-78, mains go up to 580RMB (for a stuffed lamb rib cage for 4-6 people), and desserts are RMB55-70.
Recommended Ages: All
Ideal for: Dinner and late lunch on the weekends
See listing for Garlic.