The JW Marriott Shanghai may be an easily, instantly recognizable fixture on the city's skyline, but the property's dining outlet doesn't spring as quickly to the mind when looking for a place to eat.
This is not to say the food was no good but rather the quality fare, particularly that available in the JW California Grill, was served in an almost-suffocating environment.
The hotel has had a change of hands on the deck, however, and amiable former executive chef David Burley has moved on to head the food and beverage operations at the Renaissance Pudong.
Filling the Englishman's shoes is another likable personality, this time in the guise of Italian Danio Galli. The Cremona native initially arrived early last year to marshal the kitchen at the ill-fated Renaissance Zhongshan Park; thankfully the talented chef was in the right place at the right time to take the reins at the JW.
Galli's career has taken him on the mandatory tour around the world, and despite vast exposure to other cuisines and cultures, the chef has kept a singular focus on quality and freshness wherever he has been.
The first ripples of the Galli-led culinary evolution were felt in the hotel's ground floor 360 Gourmet deli counter. Here, guests on the go can pick up a fat gourmet sandwich laden with choice cuts and cheeses, fresh pasta, salads, soups and curries, as well as scrumptious desserts. Dried pasta, wines and spirits, among other useful items, are also on sale there.
The executive chef was also given a chance to upgrade the California Grill. As mentioned above, the food was never bad but the venue was simply uninspiring.
The new Red @ the Grill hopes to rectify the situation. The core focus still remains - grilled meats and seafood - but the concept has been tweaked to give a sexier feel.
For starters, the decor has been given a lighter nuance. The place is brighter, waitstaff sport a "retro to metro" look and red touches around the interior spice things up a little. The lobster tanks, formerly placed by the entrance, have also been moved in as part of a modular unit.