By: Betty Richardson
Oreno Restaurant Review
Xintiandi just got a new big new Japanese-run French and Italian restaurant, Oreno, right across from Paulaner. It's been shuttered for ages, but it's now open with a pleasant little patio, tachonomiya chair-less tables inside, a glass-ceilinged dining room and a chic second floor.
Famous in Japan for representing ‘Michelin for the masses,’ Oreno's concept is about having upscale food for low, low prices. How is this possible in Xintiandi? They limit your time to two hours per table, and offer some standing-only tables in a bid to generate high turnover.
Oreno's menu contains a broad spectrum of dishes, many of which suffer embarrassing Chinglish typos. Most of these wouldn't have made it through had somebody bestirred themselves to use spell check: 'Countney Pate,' anyone? French crab meat 'tata'? Or how about a 'Tomahwak' steak? Sic, sic and sic.
Happily, once it gets to the table, the food is pretty good.
Chilled 'sea urchin (uni) mousse with chicken gels' (RMB68) was yummy and a big portion. It would have been better with crusty bread to break up the soft texture, but there didn't seem to be any going around.
Next, a mysteriously titled beast: 'pizza eggs' (RMB70). We wondered briefly if this would involve egg-shaped pizzas, but were proven wrong when a black truffle and mushroom puree-laden pizza arrived, with an egg on top. Nicely charred crust, but could have done with a touch longer in the oven to crisp up the base.
Next a massive portion of 'linguini sea crab' (RMB70), big enough for two people if you're sharing dishes. We liked the generous lashings of cream-based seafood sauce mingled in with just-about-al dente linguine noodles. This dish won't rock your world, but again, for the price it's honest and hearty.
Food verdict: 2/3
Xintiandi is not known for its characterful restaurants, and Oreno isn't about to change that. Still, it's pretty pleasant in here, and the terrace makes for a fantastic people-watching spot. The wait staff are accommodating, speak English and some help recommend dishes to order.
Expect this spot to get pretty busy in the future given its high foot traffic location. As such, service can be slightly laggy, especially since Oreno is newly opened.
Value for money
In terms of portion and price ratios, Oreno is excellent value. It wouldn't be impossible to be completely full here and spend under RMB100 (especially if you eat pasta or pizza).
However, order wine, bottled water or cocktails and watch your bill inflate substantially (Voss is RMB60 a bottle). This is par for the course – they have rent to pay and, as with most places, beverages sales are essential for a restaurant's survival.
Oreno isn't yet a culinary destination, but overall it's one of the better options for dining in Xintiandi, and one we'll return to with pleasure.
Value for money: 1/1
TOTAL VERDICT: 3.5.5
Price: RMB100+ per person
Who's going: Locals and Xintiandi tourists
Good for: Xintiandi dining, good value
// No 16, Lane 181, Taicang Lu, by Madang Lu太仓路181弄16号，近马当路. Nearest metro: Xintiandi, 5 mins. Open daily: 3pm-1am. (6329 6268)