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[Radar]: POP American Brasserie

Out with the old in with the new. Three on the Bund has repurposed its seventh floor with an American-inpsired bistro concept. New food same views.
2015-03-13 10:44:20
Area: Three on the Bund. Do we really need to put a finer point on this anymore? It's that building at the corner of Guangdong Lu and the Bund that's full of lifestyle brands and tony restaurants like Whampoa Club, Mercato, Jean Georges, CHI-Q, and Unico.

What it is: The long overdue replacement for New Heights. By late last year, about the only thing that the seventh-floor eatery going for it was its riverside views, so Three closed it quietly with plans for a full-on refurb. The result is an "American brasserie" that's supposed to evoke 1970's nostalgia. I'm not sure if they've quite hit the mark with the 70's nostalgia part — which is probably a good thing anyway — but the "brasserie" part, that makes sense.

They poached French chef David Chauveau from The Pen up the street, where he ran the kitchen in Sir Elly's. He's making a departure from the rarefied haute cuisine of Sir Elly's in favor of something simpler, homier, more becoming a brasserie. The menu is mostly approachable comfort eats refined for an up-market audience. Think starters like oysters Rockefeller or salmon gravlax with chili-smoked potato chips.

Mains follow suit with dishes like tender braised beef short ribs over a mushroom risotto or duck leg confit with a stew of red beans and peppers. He's also doing slightly fancier versions of pub grub, like a wagyu burger or cod "fish n chips" (I didn't try this one, but I'm sure those quotation marks mean some sort of "twist"). In keeping with the "brasserie" motif, POP also offers a selection of premium steaks, from wagyu flanks to bone-in rib-eyes for two, all of which you can you upgrade to surf & turf (half a lobster) or Rossini (seared foie and truffles).

Desserts are unmistakably American. They can dress their apple pie a "tart" all they want. It's a pie. And while I didn't order it, I suspect the same thing can be said for POP's pecan tart, too. In addition to pies masquerading as tarts, they do sweets like doughnuts, cheesecake, and jumbo ice cream sundae's topped with everything from Oreos to caramel popcorn.

Cocktails are also worth a look. They do lots of fun little tweaks on classic drinks, like a gin and tonic dosed with the herbal green liqueur Chartreuse, or the "Jazzman," which is rye, dry vermouth, and Campari.

Atmosphere: Almost completely at odds with its branding. But I think I'm okay with that. I went in expecting print collages of pop icons plastered everywhere. There is very little of that. Instead it's just the same open floor plan you probably remember from New Heights with a simple, understated decor. It looks like, well, a brasserie — red button-leather booths, tones copper and tan. The terrace, of course, remains. The bar, which was long a popular nightlife spot, remains closed. But management tells me they've got plans for it.

Damage: Consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. Starters go from 68 for a Caesar to 280 for those oysters Rockefeller. Mains are between 128rmb for "fish n chips" and 360rmb for lobster. Steaks are 208 for 200g flank and top out at 1080 for a bone-in rib eye for two. Cocktails start in the high 80's. Add a 10% service charge to all of the above.

Who's going: Bund people. People who like to be the first to do things in Shanghai. People who own restaurants across the street.