Google “best restaurants in Shanghai”, and one name will appear on almost all lists: Mr. and Mrs. Bund. This modern French eatery is helmed by Paul Pairet, whose avant-garde, abstract plates at Ultraviolet was awarded two Michelin stars. In contrast, the concept behind Mr. and Mrs. Bund is to serve classic French bistro cuisine in a relaxed environment. It gained quite a few accolades and cult following since its opening in 2009. Back in 2013 the restaurant was even included on San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Bright red and green door serves as a getaway to spacious dining room with eclectic décor and brilliant views of the Bund. I made reservation well in advance to ensure the seat by the window (I’m that girl who thinks these details through).
Menu is huge, with myriads of options. You can have one of the set menus designed by chef, although we opted to go a la carte route this time because there seemed to be a lot of enticing options. One thing we failed to acknowledge is that Mr. and Mrs. Bund is not a refined French restaurant in the lines of Joel Robouchon, Alain Ducasse or Dominique Bouchet, with smaller, elegant plates. Chef Pairet serves comfort food that comes in generous portion and is meant to be shared. We ordered ton of food we were curious to try, although there was definitely more than we could handle and in some instances, we didn’t finish the dishes.
We started off with a complimentary Tuna Mousse – an amuse bouche that has been served at the restaurant since the very first day. It was delicious – light as air, with a hint of lemongrass and mustard.
For starters, we ordered half a dozen freshly shucked oysters for each. We tried two varieties, Gillardeau and Fine de Claire, the former being a definite favorite of ours – so plump and soft, nuttier and almost sweet aftertaste.
I was also tempted to sample the beef tartar which was quite good. The beef fillet was hand cut into nice chunks and doctored up with traditional dressing which had a nice hint of citrusy flavor.
For a soup course, I ordered Mushroom Thai Consommé which I was very excited about, but it was a total disappointment. It lacked any flavor and had a bitter taste.
Meanwhile, I stole a bite from Justin’s Soft Egg Frisee Lardon which was a light, yet comforting dish. The richness of the perfectly poached eggs and mouthwatering lardon was cut through beautifully by the refreshing salad with garlic mayo dressing.
My first main course, I tried char-grilled foie gras atop puree and duck jus, and served with some lemon garlic croutons and capers. If you know me, you know how much I love foie gras and how often I order it. This was the biggest foie I have ever been served and, quite honestly, I was a bit put off by the messy presentation. Taste wise, it was cooked perfectly and had a nice smoky flavor that was complimented by the acidity of the capers. Although overall it was too rich for my liking. I think the puree and the abundance of buttery jus was unnecessary and I wish croutons were not that buttery easer – it all turned the dish into a very heavy course which I couldn’t handle. A very sad waste of product unless it is shared.
On the opposite side of the table, Justin enjoyed his seared scallop with lemon ginger sauce. He said it was nice, but not spectacular.
For a final savory course, I had the famous Boeuf Bourguignon served with mashed potatoes. It was a very hearty and comforting dish. The meat was tender and the stew was quite flavorful. I also liked the velvety mashed potatoes on the side.
Thank God I saved just enough space for a dessert, because my choice was as simple as it gets, yet absolutely aphrodisiac – French Toast (I told you I love breakfast for dinner!). I know it sounds pathetic and exaggerated, but if I was talented enough to write a song dedicated to this French toast I would. The perfectly crusted (“brulleed” – is that even a word?) exterior cracked to revealed a delightful soft center. It was coupled with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side. What a perfect treat.
I was so preoccupied with confessing in love to my French toast that I didn’t get a chance to try the restaurant’s signature dessert that Justin ordered – Lemon and Lemon Tart. Candied whole lemon contained orange sorbet and curd, vanilla Chantilly and crumbs. He said it was good. I’ll have to trust him on that.
As you can tell, we had some hits and misses during our dinner. Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Bund didn’t blow us away, but it was tasty enough. I would definitely not qualify it as the best restaurant in Shanghai (in fact, not even close, especially considering L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon – holy grail of French fine dining – is two stores below it!) and would recommend you to visit during brunch/lunch instead of dinner. There seem to be too many things on the menu which inevitably affects the quality of some dishes. I know we ordered way too much, but then our expectation of the portion sizes was different. Not to say that big portions are a bad thing, but beware that plates can be easily shared between two or three people, more like tapas style. I’d go back for that French toast over and over again, though. It was the most memorable thing I tried that day!
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