Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Maison Pourcel

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Maison Pourcel

Add: 8/F, 35 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Changle Lu / 陕西南路35号8楼, 近长乐路
Tel: 6215 8777
Hours: [La Table] 5:30-10:30pm [Studio Bar] 11:30am-11pm
Price: [La Table] 700 RMB+/person [Studio Bar] 300 RMB/person
Visited: May 2011

Please note that this was an arranged tasting.

Jacques and Laurent Pourcel’s newest venture, Maison Pourcel in Shanghai, is a sleek, starkly elegant restaurant with spectacular vista of the French Concession. The setting is luxurious, the service is smooth, but there is one major problem with this place, and that is deciding what to eat. When faced with a choice between “compressed lobster and vegetable terrine with duck ham and mango” and “duck liver and cepes ravioli with puree of baby pumpkin and foamy porcini mushroom soup”, ordering can take a very, very long time.

But before I get started on the food, let’s talk about the twins and their newest venue choice. After launching the 3 Michelin starred Le Jardin des Sens back in France at the age of 24, the Pourcel twins have since expanded their culinary empire to Bangkok, Tokyo, Casablanca, Geneva, Marrakech, Algiers and Dubai. For the recent opening in Shanghai, they chose the historical Red House, which was home to the most celebrated Western restaurant back in the 1930s. The refurbished dining room is delightful during the day with ample natural light, and equally charming after dark with sparkling French Concession as its backdrop.

The ladies’ room – spacious and discreet – is also thoughtfully designed.

The outdoor patio would be enchanting on a balmy day.

Now back to the dining table. Two flutes of champagne to start: Moët & Chandon Rosé (198 RMB/glass) and Bollinger Spéciale Cuvée (128 RMB/glass).

First came the bread basket (fine but not as lovely as what I had at Jean Georges) accompanied by some delicious Philippe Olivier butter.

Then, a flurry of amuse bouche descended upon us. First, smoke salmon perched atop a “cake”.

Fried pork and cheese ball with herb mustard cream.

Tomato sorbet, seared tuna, tomatoes, watermelon.

After perusing the menu for a very, very long time and agonizing over tantalizing descriptions of each dish, I looked to our waiter for help. His first recommendation was the compressed lobster and vegetables terrine with duck ham and mango, melon, and marinated oil in vanilla seeds (308 RMB), a classic from Le Jardin des Sens.

maison pourcel compressed lobster

We also tried the crisp egg stuffed with slightly scrambled egg, mashed green peas and its jus, toast bread in truffles and duck liver (188 RMB). The idea of an egg inside an egg was well-executed, and I loved the contrast between the crisp egg shell and the soft, velvety scrambled eggs, not to mention the pleasant surprise of an egg yolk hidden at the center.

Next came the pan-fried beef fillet with bone marrow, pan-fried French duck liver, braised silver beet served with truffle potato gnocchi (298 RMB). Beef fillet, bone marrow, foie gras, truffle potato gnocchi – it doesn’t get much more decadent than this.

Then there was the suckling pig, caramelized and roasted chops, pear-quince compote, crispy skin and spiced juice (268 RMB). The crisp fatty skin and succulent meat create a chorus of aroma and taste that can be overwhelming, but the flavor was nicely balanced by the accompanying quince-pear compote.

I was very excited about the wonderful sugary caprices that were about to come pouring out of the pastry kitchen. But first, we were served a strawberry basil sorbet as the palate cleanser, followed by a few petits fours, including a white chocolate “lollipop” with peach sorbet, as well as a plate of cinnamon chocolate, pistachio macaron, and chocolate praline.

Then came the “real” desserts. The hot chocolate with black Guanaja chocolate, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce (158 RMB) was very generous in portion. This was a bit too overwhelming for me and I recommend sharing this between two people, but I can’t speak for the chocoholics.

We also tried strawberry in four ways (188 RMB), a plate of strawberry medley in the forms of salad, sorbet, tart, and mousse. The idea is fun, but I actually didn’t find each individual piece very memorable in itself.

Maison Pourcel is currently offering a more affordable tasting menu at 488 RMB (four courses plus a glass of wine), or, if you feeling especially indulgent, try the 988 RMB tasting menu (ten courses, no wine). See menu here.

After dinner, we were given a tour of the Studio Bar on the 6th floor, which houses a French tapas bar, private rooms, a balcony, and a wine room with over 3000 bottles of wine. For those interested in trying Maison Pourcel without breaking the bank, the Studio Bar offers lunch and casual tapas that cost less than 300 RMB/person, but I imagine the experience to be quite different from dining at La Table.

Lastly, for those interested in the art of cooking, try one of executive chef Christophe Lerouy’s cooking classes, which is offered twice a month with changing themes. I’m especially interested in the July lessons on different ways for doughs (raviolis, lasagnes, cannellonis and tagliatelles), and also the August lessons for sunny Provence cooking. See full schedule here.

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Written by sugarednspiced

May 3rd, 2011 at 11:47 pm