Three-Story Lounge/Bar Located In The French Concession
It’s getting more difficult by the day for a bar or restaurant to stand out in Shanghai’s fashionable French Concession, but Kartel Wine Lounge — which had its grand opening earlier this month — manages to do just that with a striking design and equally impressive wine list. Conceptualized by French designers Thomas Dariel and Benoit Arfeuillere (Jing Daily interview), Kartel’s defining feature is an overriding theme of what Dariel and Arfeuillere call “destroy chic,” playing with the contrasts between old and new that one sees in the surrounding French Concession area. As Dariel & Arfeuillere general manager Delphine Moreau told Jing Daily at the grand opening event on September 8, the designers were inspired by the framework of the venue that emerged as construction workers dismantled the old space, choosing to juxtapose the exposed concrete with polished, modern accents. According to Dariel and Arfeuillere, this “mix-and-match” aesthetic — raw and finished, Asian and European — calls back to (yet re-thinks) the French “Beaux-Arts” style.
Another feature that sets the lounge apart from Shanghai’s ever-growing array of wine bars is its sheer size and idiosyncrasy. Spanning three floors, each of which has its own design identity, Kartel ranges from the private, cozy lower level to the more raucous main lounge, with its custom sofas and central wine “cellar,” to the upstairs roof deck, which offers unimpeded 360-degree views of the Shanghai skyline. One of the highlights of the lounge, from the perspective of the Jing Daily team members who attended Kartel’s launch, is the lower level. While the main lounge and upstairs deck are great for socializing or taking in views of the French Concession and surrounding areas, the lower floor, with its overstuffed couches and more speakeasy feel, is a refuge from the bustling city outside.
Kartel keeps a rotating roster of 20 wines by the glass, and the full bar offers original and classic cocktails. The notable wine list includes plenty of variety, though it is broadly Burgundy-heavy, and a small but quality bar menu includes French and Italian classics like cheese and charcuterie plates.