Shanghai: Mr & Mrs Bund

24 Nov

The search for my birthday meal in Shanghai began 3 weeks before our trip. I was looking for a restaurant with memorable food, a fun atmosphere and a good view. Mr & Mrs Bund, a modern French eatery by Chef Paul Pairet which is located in the Bund 18 building, seemed to fit the bill. Although several online reviewers slammed the restaurant’s expensive bottled water, poor service, pretentiousness and overrated food, there were even more reviews that raved about it. Hence I decided that I would have to try to determine for myself.

The entrance to the restaurant is discreet. Ring the doorbell to be let in – seems like we will be in for a surprise!

Since I made the reservation really early, we got a seat by the window which got us a view of the bund. +10. However I wasn’t a fan of the iron railings that ruined our view (it’s a safety requirement though if I’m not wrong). -5. And the lighting in that area was very, very dim compared to the rest of the restaurant – hence this is going to be a post with super iphone grainy pictures since I didn’t want to use flash on my camera. -10. Bummer! :(

Mood wise, the restaurant was buzzing, stylish and very “see and be seen”. It’s a huge place and felt like a secret dining hall that had a whimsical Alice In Wonderland-ish theme. Service staff rushed around in black vests and red Converse sneakers. Crowd wise, there were many groups that seemed to be celebrating some occasion or another, many wealthy looking expats (this is Shanghai after all) and the occasional curious tourist (like us). Food here is actually served communal style (a nod to Chinese cuisine I suppose) and encourages sharing, but there were also single portions of many dishes available on the menu.

Now on to the food. Complimentary bread – sourdough and something else (very pointy tips). Interesting how the sourdough was so “griddled”. Cripsy crust and warm, but not great.

Complimentary amuse bouche of tuna mousse with crostinis – Cleverly served out of a tin can, the tuna mousse was airy-fairy light and was so moreish that I had to stop myself from licking that tin clean. The crostinis were super crispy.

We ordered mostly from the rookie menu which is I suppose a sample of the restaurant’s best/most popular dishes. It’s necessary to have one since the full menu is almost as thick as a textbook. First appetiser was the foie gras light crumble (80 RMB) which was a foie gras mousse with hazelnut and raisins. They seem to have a penchant for mousses and this was very cleverly executed – since I usually find foie gras terrines too rich, but when done in a mousse it was just nice. The sweet fruity and nutty toppings, plus the side green apple slices complemented the foie gras very well. I was disappointed by the bread though, since it was the same as the one in our basket but was quite burnt so we asked for a replacement since it was too bitter to stomach. A brioche or something in smaller slices would be more ideal.

Definitely tastes better than it looks.

Second appetiser was house smoked salmon seasoned at the table (125 RMB). I love smoked salmon and was excited since I’ve never tried a house smoked one before. This one smelt of fruit wood and had a tinge of sweetness, and not salty at all like the pre-packet ones.

It was served with seven toppings, including horseradish ice cream, sour cream and dill, egg, pickled onions and capers. My favourite one was the horseradish ice cream had a very intense flavour. We had fun pairing our salmon with the different toppings to see what went well.

My main was the double teriyaki pork rib (150 RMB) with orange reduction and garlic chip. It was surprisingly a huge portion and had those nice slightly burnt edges. The meat was cooked just right and the terikyaki glaze wasn’t too sweet, which I appreciated since I normally steer clear of anything teriyaki because of that. And if you’re wondering, the garlic chip was basically roasted garlic skin that became crispy.

The hubs had duck confit with truffle jus, potato puree and salad (either 150 or 180 RMB??). The duck confit didn’t disappoint, though I’ve had better in Singapore. After we poured the truffle jus over, the skin got a bit soggy which was a pity. Maybe we should have just dipped it in the sauce instead.

The salad had a very refreshing vinaigrette that balanced the richness of the duck.

I was very excited by our dessert, since partially why I chose Mr & Mrs Bund was to try its famous and mind boggling candied lemon with lemon tart (100 RMB). It’s basically a hollowed out candied lemon filled with lemon sorbet, lemon curd, vanilla chantilly – I seriously don’t know how they do it since you can’t see any holes or how they sealed it up – and served with a buttery lemon sable fry.

I love lemon desserts so needless to say, I loved this. Lemon in its many forms and textures = yums! The pink part is actually grapefruit, which I thought was was a clever touch since a wedge of lemon would have been too sour. I could have definitely eaten one by myself. Some tables split it four ways or more but I think you can only share this between two people max otherwise you won’t be able to taste the different components.

I wanted to try another strawberries with cola dessert on the main menu but by then we were seriously on the verge of puking and had to call it a day. We had also ordered wine by the glass (they have quite a big selection) and I had a NZ Sauvignon Blanc (grassy and buttery) while the hubs had a Bordeaux (berry with long finish) which were both very, very good and went well with our choice of mains.

Service was a huge letdown though, as wait staff were very slow with taking our orders and this particular head waiter in our area (he sports a high ponytail and an extremely sullen look) was very rude and even threw our menu down on the table in front of me when he was clearing our plates. I certainly did not expect such level of service at a bund restaurant and at this price point. And though we specified it was a birthday occasion, they didn’t pull out any surprise or complimentary dessert for us which was a bit disappointing (maybe it’s not a China thing – though we did see another table get it but am not sure about the origins). But other than that, food, wine and atmosphere were quite good (I wouldn’t say awesome though, maybe except the wines) and I would definitely come back again perhaps for supper (since they close at 4am on weekends) or in a bigger group to try more things on the menu.

Price: $$$
Location: Bund 18, 6F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (near Nanjing Dong Lu)

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