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[First Bite]: Atelier NO.3

Daniel An seems to be a force to be reckoned with, having successfully weathered the COVID storms... he's now further expanding his Atelier brand with what looks to be a flagship space in the prime Fumin lu triangle.
2023-11-10 12:00:00
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.

Atelier NO.3 is the latest venture of accoladed Bar-Jedi and proprietor Daniel An; listing his full resume would eat significantly into my word limit so let's just say his reputation well precedes him. The move here from the previous Atelier around the corner came at just a year into operation, for the better vibes, according to Daniel.

Occupying the space that was previously JAX Jamon on the popular Fumin Lu junction (Funkadeli, Cantina ..), this is a full-fledged fine-casual dining concept set in a dark and sleek space while retaining all the signature cocktails that Daniel is known for, a change in direction from previous reiterations of the Atelier brand that primarily focused on the libations. Very multi-purpose environment, good for a date, apt for pre-dinner cocktails, with ample negative space to hold event functions.

Approaching the front entrance there are ample al-fresco seating both outdoors and covered, complete with a massive sliding door meant to shield the patrons from the elements once the weather takes a turn inclement.

Monotone and cavernous interior tastefully accented by shaped tin roof panels, stained mirrored backdrops, velvet lined booth seats and candle lit sconces in the private space in the rear. When you anticipate a gathering, there's nothing wrong with a predominately black/white palate as the people will bring the accents of color into the space, like an abstract painting of sorts where the melody of the organic and inanimate coalesce into a singular aesthetic.

The interesting double-sided seating bar concept is "to encourage conversation among strangers," according to Daniel. We found it slightly unsettling, especially when sitting backside to the bar as wait staff have to roam behind you constantly, giving a sense that you are perhaps in the way of things. Otherwise a cool looking setup with the sleek bronze bar surface and probably works out well when sections are just occupied by you and your familiars. All the design elements were curated by Daniel himself with a partner, to invoke less of a sense of yet another paint by number recycled design motif. There is space to roam, pockets to seclude, and areas to engage in loud discourse: I found it to be quite appealing irrelevant to the mood you're in.

Private room for 16, 6000rmb minimum charge

There is an exposed wood fired grill that flanks the right side of the venue and once again conveys confidence that they are taking the dining program seriously. Chef Danny Maimaiti hails from Xinjiang and isn't shy with liberal usage of the wood grill and spices when building his menu, which is still undergoing tweaks. One thing that stood out is the price point, very economical for this class of dining, think 138rmb for a whole char-grilled chicken with three sides. The kingfish sashimi was delightful, reminiscent of Japanese-Peruvian flavors à la Nobu in its heyday.

King fish sashimi, mango salsa/drop pepper/chipotle dressing 98rmb

Charcoal-grilled spring chicken with Tom Yum sauce, grilled pumpkin/grilled cork/grilled chilis 138rmb

Charcoal grilled octopus, chimichurri sauce/spicy mayo/Swiss chard/red peppers 98rmb

Charcoal grilled turbot fish, Yuzu soy sauce/cilantro/chili/garlic 168rmb

A massive portion of grilled turbot, flakey and had a nice smokiness from the fire; paired quite well with the spicy yuzu dip. Most of these grilled dishes meant to be shared and a couple entrees paired with some apps would suffice for most parties of four.

Smoked charcoal grilled 300g M5 ribeye, creamy mashed potatoes/sautéed spinach/ garlic butter mushrooms 588rmb

The Teriyaki eel fried rice (158rmb) was a big miss; rubbery inedible pieces of eel paired with rice that had a Latin look and confusing mild Chipotle taste. Okra, a controversial vegetable for its slimy texture features in the dish as well. I would swipe this from the lineup.

Teriyaki eel fried rice, Swiss chard/corn/green beans/mushrooms/okra (2-4 persons) 158rmb

Cocktails were what put Mr. An on the map, and while the emphasis is distilled in this reiteration of Atelier, they still pull their weight. 8 signature Atelier cocktails make the transition to this venue, with another 16 more traditional variations. I suspect there's at least one to everyone's liking. Balanced, full of character, heavy handed with the bitters and aromatics when the recipe calls for it. Most drinks hover around the 80-108rmb price point, and there are spirits/wine by the glass/bottle. Gone now is the option to self-age a mini barrel of cocktails, however three barrel-aged cocktails (Negroni, Vieux Carré, Boulevardier) remain on the menu.

Forgive My Sins, Laphroaig whiskey/Fernet Branca/Orgeat/lemon juice/egg white 108rmb

Cup of Tea, Bombay Sapphire gin/Earl Grey/rose water/clarified lemon juice & milk/sandalwood 88rmb

Golden Monkey, Monkey 47 gin/Iran saffron/Bergamot/Fever Tree tonic water 98rmb

Tom Yum Colada, Bacardi black rum/Tom Yum spices/coconut water/clarified lemon juice & milk/clarified smoky pineapple juice 85rmb

Ivory jacketed wait staff with wireless coms, Atelier NO.3 classes up this block significantly. I got the sense that some passersby on their way to happy hour were hesitant to venture in because it looks, well, expensive relative to its neighbors. The soundtrack plays safe, unobtrusive lounge top 100s; I think when the time comes some stylistic effort should be paid to this department on a permanent basis. Dinner/drinks service runs from 5:30pm to 2am, with the possibility of a brunch service in the future. Dinner you're looking around 250rmb per person, and much higher if you want to get trashed on the signature cocktails. You stay classy, NO.3.