In the mood for enjoyable terraces around the city we end up in Le Saleya, a French bistro in the Former French Concession. We choose to seat outdoors honoring the beautiful night under the stars.
To be fair, their patio is cozy and pretty well maintained. There were only two more tables -that should have been a signal of the upcoming fiasco. The service was fast and the waitress very kind.
Those were the positive points. Now lets go to the F&B terrain. First, we ordered a bottle of wine, a chardonnay (in the end there were two bottles, 780 rmb total). The wine menu is varied but pricey. The cheapest wine for 390rmb doesn’t really match the target of the place and honestly, there are excellent wines for fewer prices than that, it is not necessary to put expensive wines –but still average ones- to pretend to be fancier.
After that, while we were deciding what to have for main, there was this funniest thing ever. The waitress told us to order the dessert together with the main because the chef needs an hour to prepare it – an hour!!?? I thought it was a joke but I asked again if we could order the dessert later since I didn’t know if I was going to be hungry at the end of the dinner and in a mood for a dessert, and she said there were only 2 options available for ordering at the end of the diner. Second signal we missed.
Lets keep going. We started with a tuna beetroot tartar. When it arrived to the table I thought it was a dessert. It was like mousse of beetroot and barely any tuna. Tasteless and just for the WeChat moment’s picture, we decided to jump to the mains. We had two-lamb confit with eggplant and goat cheese (180 rmb each), one lamb rolled with goat cheese and mint (205 rmb) and one crispy beef checks with fresh herbs (185rmb). Another poor detail is that all the mains even tough are highly priced, they don’t come together with a garnish, so we ordered baked potatoes on the side to share.
The lamb confit with eggplant was a sort of puree. I don’t know if they mixed it in the blender or what but seemed like food for babies. There was no goat cheese at all but there was a surprise ingredient: coriander. And, here is another big problem. Not everyone is a big fan of coriander, such an invasive –in the good way- ingredient! Why would you add something like that without specifying it in the menu? I wouldn’t have ordered it for example – not with lamb at all.
The crispy beef cheeks weren’t crispy at all and the presentation of the dish was like a mountain of grass, which was supposed to be the fresh herbs. It was full of “herbs” and the cheeks got lost in the forest I guess. Last but not least, the lamb roll. The goat cheese was definitely old, acidic and sour, tasted more like an old ricotta that a goat cheese. The mint was nowhere to be seen and the meat was rubbery. I guess that I don’t need to explain why we didn’t get to the desserts.
After finishing the second bottle of wine, and having to pay the sum of 1,949 RMB, this is where the fiasco ended. Highly overpriced for no quality, size or presentation of the dishes. I haven’t had a fiasco in a long time. The food menu is not varied (three lamb and goat dishes for example) and the wine menu is pretentious.
In fact, dedication –or love for cooking- and quality ingredients in the kitchen are indispensable to achieve a high end product. This was not the case. It is a pity for that beautiful patio but the lack of commensals and the quality of the food served indicates that something is going wrong at Le Saleya.
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