The smell of freshly baked bread wafts from the entrance of Simplylife, a new bakery-cum-café located in Shenzhen’s upmarket mixC shopping complex. The seventh in a hit series of restaurants split between Guangzhou and Shenzhen and owned by the Hong Kong-based group M.A.X. Concepts, the crowds congregating at the entrance pay testament to the café’s popularity and China’s desire for all things European, with the menu listing a greatest hits of European and North American classics – Pan-Western, if you will – veering from strawberry pie and eggs Florentine, to clam chowder and freshly finished pastas.
The restaurant’s interior, however, is a local affair. Kowloon architecture firm BTR workshop have created a striking space that is airy yet cosy, and elegant but familiar at the same time. The confident application of raw materials such as stone and timber sets the mood, while warm earth tones that blanket everything from the plush furniture to the two-storey staircase soften the crisp yet jarring geometry of the main dining room.