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.

Dining at Dalian’s Best Foreign Restaurants (Part 1)

1) Café CopenhagenView In Map
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
Website: http://www.cafecopenhagen.cn/

2) Swish by the ParkView In Map
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)

Up Next:  The Riviera and Strollers

SinoBytes

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Keywords: Dalian best foreign restaurants Dalian Swish by the Park review Dalian Café Copenhagen review

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