8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA
Address: Associate Mission Building, 6-7/F, 169 Yuanmingyuan Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu / 圆明园路169号6－7楼, 近北京东路
Tel: 6087 2890
Hours: [restaurant] 6:00pm~12:00am [bar] 4:00pm~late
Visited on: 2012-03-05
Please note that this is an arranged tasting.
Oops, I did it again. That evening at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, I ate way too much, and I drank way too much. But can you blame me? The Shanghai establishment of Umberto Bombana’s Michelin three star restaurant just upped the ante for fine dining in this city. Situated in the newly renovated Rock Bund development, the restaurant boasts views of Lujiazui and The Bund, but really, I couldn’t care less about the view – it’s the food that draws me.
Our evening commenced at the bar. If you are overwhelmed by the lengthy menu like I was, let mixologist Dario Gentile whip up one of his original cocktail recipes for you. As I was in the mood for something sour, the Camomile Whisky Sour (80 RMB) was perfect.
Camomile Whisky Sour (80 RMB).
At the dining table, the meal unfolded like a delicious dream. First came the amuse bouche, which was organic chicken cooked sous vide, accompanied by a vin Jaune sauce made from French Jura yellow wine. Smooth, tender, rich.
Bottle #1, 2010 Cantina Santadi Cala Silente Vermentino di Sardegna from Sardinia, Italy (450RMB/bottle).
For appetizer, I chose Warm Scallops (150 RMB), which came with garden vegetables and black olives, all resting in a bright puddle of sweet pepper mayonnaise. I actually tried a bite of this dish at the original Otto e Mezzo in Hong Kong, but to have a whole plate of such superb scallops seared to perfection – all to myself – was a luxurious experience that I wouldn’t mind repeating again soon.
Here’s the Wagyu Tajima Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio (170 RMB), beautifully adorned with vegetables brunoise and crispy Parmesan.
And the Oscietra Caviar (110 RMB) with organic egg confit and celeriac mousseline.
We shared a plate of Simon Martin Jamon “Iberico de Bellota” (190 RMB), 2008 Spanish ham gran reserva (36 months). Now we all know that Iberico ham is a priced treasure, but “Iberico de Bellota” is yet on another level of its own – it is the king of Ibericos. The pigs are fed on a diet of acorns and aged for at least 30 months before being released, and the particular ham we had was aged for 36 months, thus earning its “gran reserva” label. The result? Varying shades of red gorgeously marbled with natural fats, and a delicate consistency bursting with the richest, most extraordinary flavor.
On to the next bottle, Olmo Antico La P.. ..Nera, 60% Pinot nero, 40% Barbera from Lombardy 2008 (700RMB/bottle).
Then came the pastas, which were rich and rather gorgeous. When my Pappardelle with lamb & porcini ragout and rosemary (130 RMB) arrived at the table, it brought such an sublimely heady fragrance that instantly piqued the appetite of everyone else at the table. Lamb and porcini with rosemary, a marriage of simple ideas, yet the result is unforgettable.
But I adored even more the Trenette with red tuna, bottarga eggs, rocket salad and hot peppers (190 RMB). It seemed like the trenette was cooked right in among the seafood, absorbing the stock until the pasta itself became one with the tuna and whatever else was in the recipe.
For the main course, an ideal choice is Short Rib & Beef Tenderloin (390 RMB) with seasonal vegetables, red wine plum sauce and potato purée. The short rib was gelatinous and meltingly tender, while the tenderloin – marbled with fat and cooked to a desired medium rare – was one of the most satisfying pieces of meat I’ve ever put in my mouth. The chef really coaxed the best flavor out of the ingredients.
I also tried a bite of the Roasted Pigeon Breast (250 RMB), which was of a succulent texture, tender and yet almost crunchy. It was accompanied by goose liver wrapped in pork intestine along with a sliver of black truffle and crunchy pistachios – all good stuff, rolled into one.
While desserts were in the making, we took a little field trip to the aging room where they store a rotating selection of cheese and whole Bellota hams (now if I can just steal one of these…) We helped ourselves to some cheeses, then, having fully absorbed the
stench aroma, sauntered out of room happily smelling of cheese.
Back at the dining table for desserts. I loved the Cherry Canelloni (90 RMB), a honey tuile filled with cherry sorbet and pistachio ice cream. Presentation was fabulous – the plate looked like a meticulously manicured Spring garden in full bloom – and with each bite, the layered sweet and sour flavors did enthusiastic somersaults in my mouth.
There’s also a Chestnut Cake (90 RMB) with caramelized pear, maple syrup ice cream, black currant & port wine sauce. Only tried a bite, don’t remember much.
Lastly, Modern Tiramisu (90 RMB) with mascarpone ice cream, coffee bianco mangiare, and marsala wine flavor. This one apparently has received quite a lot of media attention, though it wasn’t an instant hit for me personally.
Petit fours at the end.
But that’s not really the end. Here’s a glass Ben Ryè 2009 Passito di Pantelleria DOP, a complex sweet wine with intense notes of apricot and peach, follewed by dried figs and honey, aromatic herbs and mineral notes. Love at first sip.
And back to the bar for more drinking. Here’s a light and bubbly cocktail made from fresh peach puree and prosecco, and a very Hawaiian Tiki cocktail with ingredients unbeknownst to me.
Prosecco with peach puree
The combination of extraordinary dishes, fine wines, delicious cocktails, and silky smooth service induced a dream-like state. As dinner ended, I realized that four hours had flown past, and that my one desire, really, was to have the whole thing start over again.