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Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen

Although it's already been open a year, I hadn't had a real motivation to go down to check out Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen until trying Chef Sean Anthony's "Rougie' Foie Gras" at the "Too Many Chefs" di...
2009-05-06 12:05:00

Although it's already been open a year, I hadn't had a real motivation to go down to check out Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen until trying Chef Sean Anthony's "Rougie' Foie Gras" at the "Too Many Chefs" dining event at the Factory a few weeks ago.

Lately in Shanghai it seems that there is an over-saturation of new upscale wine and dining venues, catering to those who think nothing of dropping 500rmb and upwards for a meal. I find my pockets are not so deep, and I'm generally less willing to take a chance on the new these days. It was the stand-out foie gras at Too Many Chefs, however, that convinced me to splurge at Napa.

And splurge I did. Specifically on foie gras, truffles, and wine. Read no more if you're into la mian, street kebabs, or the frugal vintages that bear the esteemed banner of the Great Wall.

Perhaps you've seen the pictures before -- Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen is indeed an impressive and palatial place. Three stories contain the wine bar on the first floor, the kitchen split between the first and the second, dining room on the second, a library and quiet wine drinking room on the third, and a classroom for all the potential sommeliers. The venue is also home to "The Wine Residence", a wine club with its own wine cellar for members who can afford wines with more than enough zeros in their price tags, looking for a rich environment to store, cork and sip wines in style.

The Kitchen aspect of the operation is run by Canadian Chef Sean Anthony, and is more of an annex to the whole venue; it's mainly about the wine at Napa. The menu when compared on a scale of weight would easily tip in favor of the wine list -- it's one of the largest wine lists I've seen in Shanghai or anywhere. I'm no expert on wines and luckily they did have some in there that were not priced in the thousands. Nevertheless, we were still out on a limb when it came to choosing something adequate, and so we resorted to that time-honored Shanghai tradition when one finds oneself out of one's element: fake it.

The menu ("Modern Continental Style") was small which I quite liked, with a modest selection of starters, soups, and mains. As it turned out, the menu was not only short in terms of offerings but also in terms of quantity, and we had to wait until others finished using it before we could get a look. With the restaurant only half full at the time, I wondered how long patrons would have to wait had the restaurant been a full house.

I went with the foie gras of course which was pan-fried and seared to succulence, sitting on a bed or arugula and pickled ginger, with some sauce which I could not determine. It was fantastic. Next was the duck confit dumpling soup, also fantastic, but from that point on my experience at Napa took a sudden and sharp turn. Although the service was knowledgeable and courteous, we had to ask four times for bread and we ended up having to wait for our mains for over an hour. I assume the kitchen was experiencing an off night, which was a shame because it was the only down point of our evening. Our mains did arrive after a lengthy wait, but the bread never ended up materializing.

All the same, my rib eye on truffle cream and potatoes was perfect.

As for the bill, although they did deduct a main for being overly late, it came out to 500rmb each when split up. Depending on how you do, I would come with an excess of that amount.