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[Radar]: Sir Elly's

Sir Elly's is The Pen's fine-dining Euro restaurant, and it's the jewel in the hotel's stable of upper-crust F&B outlets (The Lobby, Yi Long Court, Salon de Ning, Compass Bar), set in the top two floors. Floor thirteen is the restaurant, a sedate affair with much gravitas, and a bar hugging one corner; floor fourteen is a pair of slim outdoor terraces joined by a slender bar facing the Pearl Tower.
Last updated: 2015-11-09
Area: Sir Elly's is on the 13th floor of the new Peninsula, which is slowly coming to life ahead of a spring Grand Opening. The Pen sits at the very top of the Bund, just shy of the Garden Bridge, and it's a handsome addition to the area. (It fits in so easily that inevitably someone in your party will ask if it's old or new. New.)

The city has knocked down the ugly overpass that used to live in that part of the Bund, cleared away the curious "Shanghai is Sinking" museum, and is almost done with the restoration / renovation of the former British Embassy. The top of the Bund -- looking fabulous these days.

What it is: Sir Elly's is The Pen's fine-dining Euro restaurant, and it's the jewel in the hotel's stable of upper-crust F&B outlets (The Lobby, Yi Long Court, Salon de Ning, Compass Bar), set in the top two floors. Floor thirteen is the restaurant, a sedate affair with much gravitas, and a bar hugging one corner; floor fourteen is a pair of slim outdoor terraces joined by a slender bar facing the Pearl Tower. I believe there's a jacuzzi out there, but none of the outdoor features are open just yet. They say spring.

It's a devastating view, a three-dimensional view of the Bund, the creek, Hongkou, and the elegant curve of the Huangpu, as opposed to the two-dimensional, direct perspectives you get from the Bund buildings. The river curves away from you in both directions. It's like looking at the Pearl Tower, and the Lujiazui skyscraper pile, through a fish-eye lens.

The restaurant itself is helmed by chef Arnaud Berthelier, a five-star veteran whose career started in three-star Michelin restaurants and matured with a decade working for Ritz Carlton. What's he do? The hotel says Med-inspired. I'd say it's forward-looking French, embracing exotic flavors and up-to-date techniques. It's quite modern, particularly set against the backdrop of such a classicist hotel.

I ate the four-course tasting menu, a collection of Mr. Berthelier's more conservative dishes: a velvety chestnut and pheasant soup with butternut squash and cardamom cream; Maine lobster with sweet spices, polenta, praline broth, basil, and a pine-nut nougatine that sticks in your teeth; duck breast "a l'unilateral" with navy bean and marzipan puree, figs, and almonds; and a chocolate plate of a small chocolate caramel, crispy Manjari mousse, and espresso ice cream.

It's the "safe" menu, as it were, and it is nice, accomplished Euro cooking. The expanded, eight-course tasting menu, though, looks like the one where Mr. Berthelier distinguishes himself from the hotel crowd with his more modern stuff. From that menu: Kumamoto oysters with arugula gelee, fennel-lemongrass espuma, pickled Granny Smith (a nod across town to Berasategui, perhaps, from whom this dish originates); hamachi with pomegranate, uni cream, blueberry mostarda, and fresh wasabi; and "Peanut Butter and Jelly" -- roasted lobe of foie gras, figs, port reduction, and three kinds of peanuts.

Opt for tea at the end. The Peninsula's hefty sterling silver tea set and fawning tea service are half of the fun of dining here.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is named for current Peninsula's chairman's grandather, Elly Kadoorie; the soul of the hotel dates back to his time, Shanghai's Art Deco hey-day. The interaction of the two make Sir Elly's feel vaguely residential, like dining in an industry titan's airy and sedate living room. It's completely eclipsed by the plate-glass windows framing a view down the Bund, though. The private rooms, two with private terraces facing the Pearl Tower, are as luxurious and opulent as one could want.

The bar area has a bit more personality, which is to say, color. It's red lacquer and black walls, and blue and white porcelain vases with contemporary designs -- very "modern China."

Damage: Two cocktails, two glasses of wine, two 580rmb, four-course tasting menus and accompanying service charge -- two thousand kuai. Eight-course tasting menu is 780rmb.

It's The Peninsula. It is expensive and exclusive.

Who's going: So far, they say it's an even split between hotel guests and residents with someone to impress. It's definitely a special occasion kind of place. Bar area would be good for quiet drinks and/or an affair -- it's discreet.

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