We're dipping headlong into winter here in Shanghai, so this week, instead of profiling a few new places around town in our "On The Radar" column, here's what's new to eat and drink at a few more established restaurants already in your rotation. (Probably.)
The venue: Game-changer! Game-changer venue on the Bund! Open for coming up on three years, this Muse/Grey Goose collabo has already inspired copycats in Shanghai (and in greater China), seeking to replicate its formula of restaurant-to-cocktail lounge-and-back-again in an environment that observes and respects your vaunted social status but is also somewhat approachable and nice to hang out in. (Read: The music isn't shitty house music.) They have new seasonal additions to their menu.
The New Stuff: This morning, I WeChat'ed an industry observer-type friend that I had tried out The Nest's new menu last night. He asked if it was any good. I said: "Drinks, so so. Food is real good."
He replied, "Yeah, the food is way better than it even needs to be down there."
That's very true. On the surface at least, The Nest seems like a very successful venture in both food and drinks departments. People rave about the drinks; people rave about the food. It's always busy. Seems like they don't really even need to do much but keep providing more of the same. I'm happy to say they didn't do that. The new "Autumn/Winter 2017" stuff coming out of the kitchen from their surly French chef is creative, challenging, and quite singular in the upscale Nordic genre. I recommend the Bambi's heart.
Generally speaking, you're looking at heavy meats and brisk seafood reflecting the icy Nordic bent of the restaurant but not without a Frenchman's eye to deep and rich sauces, oils, and butters. The dishes are all making entrances -- they're making the scene, man -- presented and plated to dramatic and impressive effect. The "A Bird in The Nest", in particular, is a fatty duck breast dish that arrives on a rustic and quaint bed of hay and pine needles like it's the baby Jesus. It fills the room with sweet hickory smoke when it's unveiled on the table. As per the aforementioned challenging aspect of the menu: see the "Venison heart, as it is" and the "Squid, as it (almost) is" -- conversation focal points both of those. Don't skip the salmon chowder. As relatively subtle as it is, it might've even been the best new thing on there. It's delicious and offers beautiful texture with the salmon roe in the broth.
Drinks. The drinks are competing with the event dining and are also big and bold visually and in construction.
Of course the vodka is the joining thread to these but it's a lot more random in terms of origin points. The "Nordic Martini" is an icy, cool, and clean experience whereas the Fields of Gold is almost like a horchata. Some pair better with the food than others and some are better just on their own. Aquavit infusions are their theme for the season, lending the drinks menu a wintery sort of feel. I kept thinking of Liam Neison in The Grey. The showstopper is their Viking goblet "Winter is Coming" cocktail. We'll leave that one as a surprise.
All-in, the new food and drinks are most righteous, fitting in with the season in exciting and interesting ways. The Nest: giving you reasons to keep coming back to The Bund through the cold.
The venue: Game-changer! Game-changer pizza in Found 158! Closing in on their one-year anniversary in the sunken city, this cost effective pizza-by-the-slice restaurant from Nat Alexander is already the pizza favorite for a lot of people around town for their throwback, big and greasy slices served on paper plate with that New York state of mind. They've got a range of new pizzas on offer.
Homeslice has got five saucy new specials on for the fall: BBQ Chicken Pizza, Forest (made of sausage, porcini, mushroom, green chilli, rosemary, cheese, and tomato), Calabrese, Pumpkin, Sausage & Broccoli Rabe, and some home-made sausages to boot.
Out of the ordinary toppings can be divisive so let’s start with the Pumpkin. It’s a balanced pie, with drops of tahini yogurt mixed with sweet and just small enough pumpkin bits; both nicely spread out.
But the best new pie award has got to go to the BQQ Chicken, artfully designed by former Chef de Cuisine at Table No. 1, Christopher Pitts. Tangy sweet sauce, thin shredded chicken, and that signature fluffy-as-a-cloud Homeslice crust.
The Sausage & Broccoli Rabe was also delightful and is the move if you like a white pizza. Real good. Real real good.
Every pie delivered, even the homemade Italian fennel sausages did not disappoint (50rmb for 2). Specials are available by the slice (30rmb) and the standard 20 inch pie (230rmb), but Homeslice has added a 16 inch pie (150rmb) to the mix to promote full pizza freshness. The new menu will stick around long after the leaves have been expelled from the trees, even the pumpkin pie should be up till Chinese New Year.
What Else Is New Around Town...
- Reflecting their new look inside and their new direction, alt and art scene favorite Daliah is trotting out a new dinner menu, available nightly until l0pm. They're serving a "Chinese Austrian fusion" sort of thing. Attention piqued.
- Bonobo is getting a whole new menu of more "club friendly eats", meaning sharable, gastro-type stuff
- Union is also getting a menu overhaul with some new stuff coming in including mini bacon corn dogs (hey!), smoked salmon melts, and more.
- Pie Society is trotting out their line of festive pies for December and January. "Moosetoe" (steak, parsnip, and red wine), "Merry Berry" (turkey, onion, sage, stuffing, cranberry, and port), and "Nutcracker" (the vegetarian Christmas one - chestnut, cheddar parsnip, sherry).
- Lastly, Kathleen is back, the brand and the person, with a new bistro dining concpet in a Pudong-located venue. They're opening for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. We'll pop by next week to see what she's got cooking on the regular in the new venue.