You probably know about wine delivery service Bottles XO, famous for bringing chilled, ready-to-drink vino to your door in less than one hour. But have you been to their bar? Opened last summer, the cozy space on the first floor of Italian restaurant Solo serves all their wines by the bottle and by the glass, as well as pretty delicious food prepared by the upstairs kitchen.
Routine users of the app, we admit to never leaving the house (or getting out of our pajamas) to check out the bar. That is, until last week. And we plan on making it a regular thing.
Situated in the French Concession on Hengshan Lu (near Yongjia), XO Bar is well located for a night out. Wine is the intended focus from the moment you walk in, as wine glasses hang over the bar, and bottles are on display. But with only a few high-top tables, the small space can get crowded fast. People often spill out to the sidewalk, creating a block party feel on weekends (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).
If you're looking for more of a sit-down-restaurant, head upstairs to Solo, XO Bar's partner restaurant. The same wines are on offer, as well as the same food, but with a very different atmosphere. There are also private rooms available, as seen above.
Obviously known for its wines, XO Bar carries all of the same bottles from their Bottles XO app, but with the option to try even the highest end option by the glass (ranging from ¥25-¥125). We sampled the Frank & Serafico Di Macchia Vermentino (¥50/glass, ¥260/bottle), a fruity Tuscan white wine that was a hit, even among our strictly red wine drinkers. Another white we enjoyed for dessert was the Heinz Schmitt Riesling Beerenauslese (¥70/glass, ¥325/glass), which would be a perfect pairing with foie gras.
For the reds, the Famille Perrin L’Oustalet Rouge (¥35/glass, ¥205/bottle) is an affordable organic option, as well as the easy-to-drink Herencia Altes Garnatxa Negra (¥35/glass, ¥215/bottle). We were particularly impressed with the Guado al Melo Rute (¥50/glass, ¥290/bottle)--a rich, vibrant "Super Tuscan" that went down way too easily. We finished the night with a glass of the de Venoge Champagne (¥100/glass, ¥475/bottle), which received a Wine Spectator rating of 91.
Charcuterie lovers will appreciate the selection of Spanish cold cuts, olives, cheeses and the particularly sinful terrine. The meat platter (¥198) comes drizzled with high quality olive oil, alongside homemade pickles and marinated olives.
The bread basket (free when ordering food) is just downright addictive--particularly the focaccia. Crunchy yet chewy and soft at its center, you'd swear they fried the bread in olive oil. In fact, we felt obliged to ask, after demolishing two orders. We were assured it's baked, but it is indeed doused with lots of oil.
Another delicious carb option is pizza (starting from ¥58). We tried the Quattro Formaggi (¥98 at the bar, ¥128 upstairs), which was served with a side of honey. The combination of a thin, crispy crust and sweet and salty cheese made for a dish we're bound to order again.
We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of lobster and avocado included in the Lobster Salad (¥148). Served in its shell, the meat was fresh, buttery and surprisingly light. Other seafood options include a variety of fish dishes, scallops, shrimp and imported oysters.
The Australian Wagyu Rump (¥78/100g) is a great deal, with a generous portion of well-seasoned steak and side vegetables. The Iberian Black Pork Chop (¥158) is also a nice option for meat-eaters, and one of the juiciest cuts of pork we've had in Shanghai.
For dessert, we went for the traditional Tiramisu (¥58), which was the perfect end to our wine and food fest. Creamy, concentrated coffee flavor, and of course, it paired beautifully with our Champagne.
With decently priced wines by the glass, tasty pizzas and high quality meats, XO Bar is somewhere we plan to frequent often (when we decide to leave the house and get out of our PJ's, that is).
Address: 237 Hengshan Lu (near Yongjia Lu); 衡山路237号 (近永嘉路)