Happy July 4th, everyone! What a perfect day to post about yesterday’s brunch experience at Al’s Diner, an American diner in the French Concession district of Shanghai.
Living in Shanghai, brunch spots are aplenty, with new ones seemingly popping up all the time. Novel, yes. Nice decor, yes. But the actual food? Sometimes you have to use your imagination. But my craving for some solid comfort food this Sunday morning brought us outside of our weekly dependable norm (Odelice), to Al’s Diner next door. Formerly only Gracie’s Ice Cream, now you can get a burger, omelette, or kimchi fried rice to go with your milkshake! They’ve been open since end of last year, but with my traveling schedule, I am literally just getting to checking this place out now.
Instead of saving pancakes for dessert, we led with them. And no regrets there. Their Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta pancakes were so incredibly fluffy and amazing! I thought, if nothing else, I will come back jus for these. The pancakes came in a hefty stack of 3, complete with whipped cream. Lots of people around us ordered the same (amusingly, even tables of 2 with both people ordering the same pancakes) and no one could finish, so I highly recommend sharing them.
The Purgatory Eggs are said to be a crowd favorite, so we gave it a try out of obligation more than anything else. The eggs were scrambled in a cazoula with chorizo sausage, jalapenos, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and ricotta cheese. The cazoula was presented with 3 flour tortillas and a small dish of sour cream. Since there was more egg than tortilla left in the end, we ended up asking for a few more tortillas, which we got promptly and weren’t charged extra for – a very pleasant surprise. I must note that while this dish was carbolicious, we got major food envy from the table next to us, who ordered what looked liked the juiciest burger we’d ever seen. So we were stuck in egg purgatory for a bit while we plotted our next trip back to get that burger.
Of course, since this diner is part Gracie’s, I had to try a milkshake. I opted for a somewhat healthy middle ground (at least that’s how I convinced myself) and got the Mango-Coconut milkshake. The consistency was very thick (just a tad less would’ve been perfect), but the taste was very delicious. Next time when I’m not jet-lagged, I’ll have to try their Loco Banana milkshake spiked with Bourbon.
The one downside to our meal was how small the tables were and how incredibly crammed and loud it was inside; they definitely juiced the place to the max in terms of table to chair to people ratio. However, it’s a price I’d gladly pay for excellent food. Even though we normally don’t stray from our usual Odelice French brunch place next door, I’m happy we gave Al’s a try because we will most definitely be back when we’re missing excellent comfort food from back home.
Al’s Diner / 204 Xinle Road, Shanghai