As I was walking north on Gao An Street, I stumbled upon the entrance of January Cafe. I was actually on my way to 1984, but decided to take the time to check this place out.
After walking down the alleyway, you can see the entrance to the cafe restaurant on your right. There are some flowers and other decorations in this area. It’s quite nice to look at, actually.
During the winter, the staff keep the large, windowed doors closed, so entering is accomplished via a small door on the left.
The interior of the first floor is pretty nice. It seems to be an overflow area, and is focused on ushering customers to either the second floor or outside seating.
I arrived at January Cafe around 11:30, just before lunch, so it wasn’t busy. The second floor is kind of nice. Very large and open, and very quiet in part of the surrounding buildings blocking the outside street noise.
I get the feeling that the owners were trying for a French theme. Unfortunately, at least to me, this cafe-restaurant falls a bit short of the French theme. It’s like they got 80% of it done and left it 20% unfinished.
Service and Interior
The service here is actually pretty outstanding for a cafe-restaurant in Shanghai at this price range. There is always someone standing nearby waiting to assist you. I was a bit surprised.
Shortly after I arrived, it started to get busy. By noon half the place was occupied by other customers, and I noticed that the wait staff never missed a beat. It’s a good sign to see this during the lunch hours. This place probably gets quite busy during the evening hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if you might need a reservation for dinner.
As for the interior, well, you can see in the photo above and judge for yourself. Again, I think they were trying for a French theme, but fell a bit short with the decoration. Still, the chairs are quite comfortable, and the interior is very clean and relaxing.
There is a veranda that was closed off due to the cold weather. It’s a nice addition and lends to the overall atmosphere of the place.
Food and Drinks
January Cafe has a very, very extensive menu. Rather, they have menus. I was a little overwhelmed with having three different menus (yes, three) to look through. One was the drink menu, the other for food, and the third for wines.
Prices actually aren’t terrible for western foods, with drinks and desserts being a bit higher than normal. I noticed that the salads are small for the amount you pay.
It’s actually a bit more cost effective to order course meals: two courses for lunch and three for dinner.
The prices for these seem to be pretty good, at around 70RMB for lunch and 100RMB for dinner. Some dishes are more expensive depending on the main course, with the more expensive ones involving some sort of meat.
If you’re in the mood for coffee and cake, you won’t be disappointed. I ordered one of the two cakes they had available at the time: a truffle chocolate mousse opera cake. The drink I ordered was a mocha.
It was pretty awesome. It wasn’t overly sweet (a problem I run into regularly here in Shanghai) and has very good flavor. There are little bits of crunchy chips inside the opera cake, giving it a more interesting texture.
Mocha has a lot of cream however. Almost a third of the cup was whipped cream, which is definitely not to my taste. Quite frankly, for the price they charge, they could have put more actual drink in my drink.
From what I could taste of the actual mocha in my mocha, it was pretty good.
So, for you coffee and latte lovers out there, stick to the regular lattes or cappuccinos unless you want to completely satisfy your sweet tooth.
This would be a good place for an informal meeting or a date. Chairs are comfortable, and the restaurant itself is relaxing.
The atmosphere is ok. Not a cafe feeling; more of a restaurant feeling. I can’t see myself coming here to work or study. This place is geared more towards informal meetings between colleagues or someplace nice to go with a friend.
Definitely bring a date here. The extensive menu and overall atmosphere does lend itself nicely for a date with a loved one, without being overly formal for a nice night out.