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Dining at Dalian’s Best Foreign Restaurants [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-3-30 13:42:09 |Display all floors
If you are looking for a good "date night" place, or if you’re simply craving a nice foreign meal, there are several restaurants you can choose from in Dalian. After talking to foreigners around the city, I’ve determined that four establishments seem to be the most popular. This article reviews the first two restaurants on this "best of Dalian" list: Café Copenhagen and Swish by the Park. But you’ll have to wait until next time for the reviews of Riviera and Strollers.

1) Café Copenhagen
I loved Café Copenhagen, but it’s hard to say why exactly. The food was really good, but the service wasn’t spectacular, and the interior design of the restaurant wasn’t anything to write home about. Sometimes restaurants simply have a "mysterious appeal" to them. One explanation, which my girlfriend proposed, is that Café Copenhagen is such a great restaurant, because the chefs prepare their food with love.
The breakfasts (or as they say at Café Copenhagen, "the brunches") are starting to get really popular amongst the ex-pats who live in Dalian. There are three reasons why: they are huge, reasonably priced, and well prepared. The Classical European Brunch consists of: bread with butter and jam, a pancake with syrup, three pieces of bacon, one egg with sautéed mushrooms, two fried sausages, baked beans, fresh fruit, and your choice of a coffee, latte or cappuccino. The price is 68 RMB.
Although brunch at Café Copenhagen lasts until 15:00, if you’d like to eat a more classic lunch instead, there are plenty of options. They offer many salads, including a Chicken Caesar Salad, a Savona Salad, a Grilled Beef Tenderloin Salad, and a Fresh Fruit Salad. Salads are all priced around 58 RMB. If a salad isn’t filling enough, you can’t go wrong with one of their pizzas. They offer many of the standard pizzas you’d find in a typical American Pizzeria: New York Pizza, Cheese Pizza, Pizza Margherita, and so on. The average price of the pizzas is 60 RMB. They also offer several sandwiches, like a BLT, Tuna, Club, and so on. The sandwiches are all priced around 40 RMB. The brunch is definitely the better lunchtime deal—the lunches don’t come with a drink, and are also pretty expensive.
Their dinner options are nice because they offer different meals to fit everyone’s budget. Their cheaper meals include Macaroni for 38 RMB, Seafood pasta for 58 RMB, and Carbonara for 58 RMB. Their more expensive meals are Roasted Lamb for 108 RMB, The Copenhagen Gourmet Burger for 88 RMB, and Roast Fillet Steak for 178 RMB.

All of the food at Café Copenhagen is well prepared and very flavourful. The owners adopted the same "cleanliness" and "quality" here that they learned while living in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Add: Café Copenhagen, 125 Tianjin Jie, Zhongshan District, Dalian
地址: 大连市中山区天津街125号,(修竹大厦1楼)
Tel: 411 8269 3339
Opening hours: 09:00-22:00
2) Swish by the Park
Swish by the Park in located on the eighth floor of The Swish Hotel. The staff is friendly and speaks good English. The environment is what you’d expect from a restaurant inside a top rated hotel; it’s a bit sterile, and has no real character or energy.
Energy or not, most people go to Swish by the Park for their 218 RMB all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. The buffet offers up a changing mix of Chinese, Western and Japanese cuisines. When I ate there they had a large assortment of appetizers such as steamed shellfish, a small sampling of sushi, four different cheeses, various Chinese and American salads, and two types of soup (cream of broccoli and chicken soup).
There were about eight different main course options. Some of the best were the baked crab, roast beef and turkey. There were a variety of cakes and an ice cream bar for desert. They have a large collection of beer and sodas along with coffee and tea. It’s obvious that the chefs at Swish by the Park are well trained and that they really care about the food’s quality. Everything I ate was hot, fresh, and flavorful, which is much better than you’ll find at most buffets. However, I don’t think that this buffet is worth 218 RMB.
If you don’t want spend over 200 RMB on dinner, Swish by the Park also has a regular menu, with cheaper prices than the buffet. The menu offers dishes from many countries. You can order a Mexican quesadilla for 60 RMB, Indonesian skewers for 70 RMB, an Italian calzone for 60 RMB, an Austrian veal cutlet for 70 RMB, or an American club sandwich for 60 RMB.
Just like the buffet, these meals are well prepared and the chefs’ skills shine through in their food. The portions are also huge. In my opinion ordering off the menu is a much better deal than paying for the buffet.
The dishes at Swish by the Park were quite tasty, but not worth the money in my opinion. I also had two first-time experiences while dining there. On the bill for my meal, I was charged a 20% gratuity, which is the first time I’ve ever been forced to tip my waitress in China. Also, after scanning the bill, I discovered that a can of Pepsi cost 20 RMB, which is the most I’ve paid for a soda while in China.
Add: 8F, Dalian Swish Hotel, 21 Wuhui Lu, Zhongshan District, Dalian
地址:大连 中山区 五惠路21号 大连瑞诗酒店
Tel: 411 8230 3388
Opening hours: 11:30-14:30 (lunch), 15:30-21:30 (dinner)

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Post time 2012-3-30 13:42:28 |Display all floors
This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-3-30 13:42

In Part 2 of this fine dining in Dalian series, I visited two more restaurants: Strollers and The Riviera. One restaurant, I'll never go back to; at the other, I enjoyed a gourmet meal.

1) Strollers 流浪者西餐厅
I ate at Strollers two years ago when I first moved to Dalian and even though it was a smoke filled, oddly decorated little restaurant, I considered it a top notch fine dining establishment because the food was really good and the staff was very professional. So, when I walked into Strollers a couple of nights ago I wanted to like it, I even tried to like it, but no matter how hard I tried to convince myself it was still the same great restaurant I remembered it to be, it just wasn't the same. Its quick plummet into a sub-par restaurant brings up an interesting business management question: What caused the level of food quality at Strollers to plummet so drastically? As I ate my dinner I interviewed my waitress to gather some information about Strollers so that I could form a theory and try to answer this question. The most pertinent bit of info she gave me was that the owner recently moved to America, which I believe explains why the restaurant is no longer good.
After I finished the interview I began to observe the employees in Strollers as I tried to eat my dinner. The manager sat at the bar and played a video game on his laptop, never moving. There were three bartenders in the restaurant; one bartender sat in the corner of the bar reading a magazine, another bartender leaned against the back wall of the bar half asleep, leaving the last bartender to do all the work. There were three waitresses working and they stood in the center of the restaurant chatting.
Just how bad was the food? I'll describe it. My girlfriend and I started with a Chicken Caesar Salad and some onion rings. The "Chicken" Caesar Salad didn't have any chicken; instead it came with bacon. The salad itself tasted as if it had been made five hours before I ordered it. The dressing had soaked into the lettuce forming a congealed salad gelatin. I took one bite and almost threw up. The onion rings didn't make me gag, but they were severely under cooked. For the main course we ordered spaghetti with meat sauce and a cheeseburger with fries. The spaghetti tasted like a Lean Cuisine Frozen meal. The noodles had that cardboard taste that can only happen when they've been cooked days before, frozen, and then re-heated in a microwave. Overall the cheeseburger wasn't that bad. It came with one sad little tomatoe slice, and one even sadder piece of limp lettuce, but it was the best dish of the night.
There were a couple of nice aspects to Strollers. The waitresses were really nice, Strollers has a huge menu, and the prices are cheap. You can order a variety of appetizers like fried squid, nachos, and onion rings for around 25 RMB. There are 10 different salads all around 25 RMB as well. They also have many different pizzas, hamburgers, and sandwiches all at about 40 RMB. And they have a large variety of foreign and domestic beers. However, these things cannot make up for an overall disappointing dining experience. In conclusion, Strollers has turned into a bad restaurant that I'll never go to again.
Add: 4 Jiqing Jie, Zhongshan District, Dalian
地址: 大连市中山区吉庆街4号
Tel: 411 8269 8293
Opening hours: daily, 11:30-24:00 (food); 11:30-02:00 (drinks)

Photo: top086

2) The Riviera 里维埃拉西餐厅
After I had spent only a couple of minutes in The Riviera I realised that in many ways it was the exact opposite of Strollers. The Riviera is owned and run by an Australian woman named Jennifer Prescott, who is very hands-on and makes sure that everything in The Riviera is perfect. Jennifer opened The Riviera in 2007 with the hope of filling a niche in Dalian. Her restaurant caters to businessmen who are looking for a gourmet meal in Dalian. Of course not only businessmen go to The Riviera; people who are celebrating a special occasion also go to The Riviera to take advantage of the one-of-kind eating opportunity it offers. Jennifer also told me that she is starting to get many regular clients who have become addicted to her Riviera-style dishes. The Riviera spans the coasts of France, Italy and Spain. In order to offer up an authentic taste of this area Jennifer flew top-rated chefs from these three countries to Dalian, where they trained her Chinese chefs. She also imports ingredients from countries all around the world.
When you go to the Riviera you can order one of four 5-course meals. An example of one of these set meals is as follows: the first course is a Mediterranean Salad, the second course is Cream of Asparagus Soup, the third course is a pasta plate, which has Lobster Ravioli, Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi, and Veal Ravioli. The fourth course is a Grilled Wagyu Beef Plate, and the fifth course is a sampling of five different desserts. This 5-course meal was the most expensive one at 418 RMB. The other set meals cost 388 RMB, 298 RMB, and 288 RMB. You can also order a la carte. Some of the cheaper dishes are the Veal Ravioli at 68 RMB, Penne Ricotta Nocciole at 58 RMB, and the Classic Shrimp Remoulade at 78 RMB. Some of the more luxurious dishes are Steak Tartare for 211 RMB, Montreal Steak for 414 RMB, and Australian Rack of Lamb for 317 RMB. The Riviera offers a wide variety of gourmet dishes at different price ranges. Highly recommended.
Add: 1F West Side, Hongyu Building, 68 Renmin Lu, Zhongshan District, Dalian
地址: 大连市中山区人民路68号宏誉大厦1楼西侧
Tel: 0411 8273 9759
Opening hours: daily, 11:00-22:00

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