There are over 350 restaurants in Shanghai serving up Italian food and taking a line from Michael Caine…. "Not many people know that."
Some have Michelin stars, some even have celebrity chefs’ names over the door, that though is where it ends in my opinion, a name over the door. Slight oxymoron here with my recent encounter at Lago, which is touted as modern Italian fine dining from acclaimed Spanish chef Julian Serrano "Small Plates. Bold Flavours." is the tagline.
Well, I am sorry to say, taglines are one thing, snapping of the dishes and the presentation thereof is another, but overall don’t forget to season the damn food, for the majority if not all of the dishes lacked depth and adequate seasoning, some covered with dollops of a heavy sauce.
Before we get to the actual dishes, lets speak about the 23 pages of wines offered, or in this case not, the plan was to start with a couple of bottles of white wine, something affordable as prices were and are astronomical, with ridiculous markups, after the 10th white wine from the listing being unavailable, tells us what you do have and bring two bottles, this went back and forth for some 15 minutes or more, in the end we settled for Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC 2017 at 658RMB a bottle, palatable but not outstanding I would say.
With some understanding of the menu and style of service, we opted for the following dishes which were shared.
Vitello Tonnato: supposedly veal loin with tuna dressing and capers, not seen veal as dark as this before, along with smidgens of tuna dressing, and a couple of white anchovies.
Tuna Tartare: on this dish, there were small spherical balls of gazpacho, “redesigned” to taste better than the real thing. This is a technique invented by Chef Adrià of El Bulli, a classic and often used as an example of spherification where a liquid is shaped into a sphere, causing it to burst in the mouth. These balls were difficult to pick up, perhaps a little more thought in the presentation, and execution. The Tuna meat was quite dark, overall lacked adequate seasoning, oh and a little liquid run off?
Risotto Frutti Di Mare Scallops, Clams, Squid and Prawns: The texture of the rice, grains should be cooked al dente, with just the right amount of chew when you bite into them, sadly this was not the case, and served in a soup plate rather than the traditional way of serving Risotto which is generally a flat plate, again needed just a little oompf here to bring out all the flavours.
Ravioli Ripieni di Manzo Stufato: Handmade pasta stuffed with a short rib of beef and mushrooms, for me this was the highlight of the meal, all the ingredients came together here, well balanced and seasoned.
Branzino Livornese: aka grilled Seabass served with a tomato, onion, caper and black olive sauce, or in this instance more like a spoonful of thick tomato concasse, not what I had in mind.
Grilled Asparagus….Well it’s asparagus you can’t go wrong here.
Whipped mashed potato aka creamy spuds, containing the ever-ubiquitous amounts of truffle that one finds in Shanghai of late.
The setting on the terrace is superb, one could not ask for better with the backdrop of the bright lights of the Bund and skyline of Pudong on this balmy September evening, the service was friendly and efficient, music a little loud, and had to ask to have this turned down a notch, the evening whilst lovely to catch up with friends, overall let down by the inconsistency in the dishes served, and frankly speaking would have expected better from this celebrity restaurant.
Dishes are not outrageously priced, but then again versus taste is a little disappointing I would say.
Price per person 870RMB
Whilst one has to rate in terms of full stars, a pity one can’t give half a star here, I would say no more than 2.5 based upon the food.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.