Monday, July 09, 2007

M on the Bund

7/F, No. 5 The Bund (at Guangdong Lu)
Shanghai 200002 China

One of my goals in visiting Shanghai is to eat in Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant 3 on the Bund. So I made reservations for 21.00hrs Sunday night for me and my friend Per. There was just one problem the actual entrance is on Guang Dong Lu on the corner with the Bund and naturally that was too difficult for me.

We walked down from the Westin Hotel along the West side of Guang Dong Lu until we came to what looked exactly like the entrance for a top class restaurant. I was a little confused but it looked exactly like what I was expecting i.e. grand old building with different restaurants on each floor. So I asked the doorman if this was where Jean-Georges was, to which he responded "yes it's on the 7th floor".

Which is how I found myself eating at M on the Bund which as you will notice is not the same as Jean-Georges Vongerichten! I can be such a clueless idiot sometimes. I even had a very good opportunity to rectify the situation when they did not in fact have a reservation for us but before my feeling of unease got critical the Maitre D took the situation in hand and declared it was probably just language difficulty and found us a seat.

Jean-Georges by the way is on the East site of Guang Dong Lu roughly 10 meters away from the entrance to M.

Now this was not necessarily a total disaster as I was very much aware that M on the Bund was a highly rated restaurant (yes another reason why I really should have caught on) so I actually wanted to go there. The experience was mixed however. Service was pretty good although I had the feeling they where hurrying us along. The setting, atop an old art deco building with a unobstructed view of the futuristic Pudong skyline, was magnificent. The food however was uneven. We ordered:

  1. Pan-fried foie gras with pomegranate molasses and dressed cress, served with toasted brioche on the side for Rnb 138.00 (£9 or so);
  2. Mandarin beluga caviar on a warm crepe Parmentier, which we like best, or with Melba toast and crème fraiche Rnb198.00 (£13);
  3. And both of us had for main what they call "Our famous salt encased slowly baked selected leg of lamb, newly partnered for Spring with a warm salad of asparagus, morels, and roasted roots, dressed with lemon, parsley and capers" for Rnb218.00 (£14.5);
  4. Om Ali - Egyptian filo pastries filled with fruits and nuts, served with spiced cream and spiced ice-cream for Rnb 78.00 (£5);
  5. 'Tarte Tatin' - Bernard's adaptation of the French sisters's tart, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream for Rnb 86.00 (£6);

The foie gras was OK. It was somewhat undercooked and the pomegranate was way to strong for the taste of the liver. The dressed cress went some way towards making up for the pomegranate but overall this dish was a disappointment.

I have no idea what Mandarin Beluga Caviar is but NOT beluga caviar comes to mind. Whatever it is, it is barely better than lump fish roe but I suppose the price should have warned me off. However the rest of the dish in no way made up for the quality of the caviar. The crepe Parmentier was quite good but three time thicker than it needed to be and therefore the dominating taste. The crème fraiche was tasty but very liquid; this is not a good thing for cream to be eaten with caviar. Overall, a complete failure of a dish.

The lamb was the highlight of the meal. Perfectly cooked, perfectly matched with all the sides and quite deserving of whatever fame it has garnered. This really is a dish that could carry a restaurant by itself. Quite heavy for the temperature outside but what the heck.

Om Ali – totally nondescript, not bad but I really can't muster any enthusiasm for this dish. I did not taste the Tart Tatin but Per liked it. I was very sceptical at the speed with which it appeared however. I recon the only way to get a Tart Tatin to the table in the time they did is to nuke it which is really not kosher for a restaurant like this.

We had some pretty good wines with dinner, we started with a perfectly good Vouvrey Sec for around Rnb600 (£40) and a Pinot Noir, Domaine Drouhin, Oregon 2002, at Rnb1200 (£80) with the lamb. Oregon pinots are impossible to get outside the US and always overpriced when you do find them but I could not resist this one as I have found memories of it at a dinner in Seattle with Boeing. It is 14% but has the body of a 11% wine which gives it a unique bouquet that is perfect with a stewed meat like the salt encase lamb.

I guess I'll be going to Jean-Georges later!

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