Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Table No. 1 at The Waterhouse

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Table No. 1

Address: 1-3 Maojiayuan Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Lu / 毛家園路1-3號1樓, 近中山南路
Tel: 6080 2918
Hours: 12~2:30pm, 6~10:30pm
Price: [lunch] 178 RMB+15%/person, [dinner]300~500 RMB/person
Visited: Mar 2012 (visit 1, 2)

Please note that this was an arranged tasting.

I love Table No. 1 in daylight, but it is even more charming after dark. With candles lit on every table, this minimally decorated dining room becomes quite a romantic spot, and whether you are here for a date (choose a window seat) or a friendly gathering (choose a communal table), this place will not disappoint.

Our table looked into the interior courtyard, across which we could see some actions from the kitchen.

There’s also a semi-private room available for those looking for more seclusion.

I started the meal with a Dirty Lychee Martini (80 RMB), muddled lychee fruits shaken with lychee liqueur and Absolut raspberry vodka, while my friend went for TN1. Mojito (80 RMB), muddled mint leaves and lime mixed with Havana Blanco rum and topped with soda. Thumbs up to both.

Then arrived two “snack plates”,  razor clams, chorizo, coriander and chilli (78 RMB) and salt and pepper prawns (78 RMB). Both dishes celebrated the simplicity of fresh ingredients, and got our appetite worked up for what’s to come next.

The first of our “small plates” was tuna tartar, avocado, sesame (98 RMB) accompanied by soy dressing. I’ve tasted tuna tartar at many restaurants, but Table No. 1’s rendition stood out as one of the best I’ve had. Different layers of textures and flavors weaved together perfectly, and I really slowed down to savor each bite.

Another “small plate” – roasted scallops, glazed chicken wings, parsley risotto (78 RMB), was also done well. The scallops were briefly seared to develop a crispy golden crust, locking in all the flavor and moisture of the naturally buttery meat underneath. Mmm.

I was once disappointed by a sea bass dish at Table No. 1 during a previous visit, so I was a bit hesitant when the waiter recommended the seared sea bass, artichoke, barigoule, chorizo and dill (148 RMB). After trying a bite of this, however, I was very glad that I took his advice. The fish was supple and flavorful enough without the accompanying fennel sauce, and the vegetables were a delight as well.

Equally memorable was our other main course, aged beef sirloin with pot potatoes, smoked spring onions (268 RMB). The sirloin had a satisfying charred exterior and cooked to a perfect medium rare as requested. Flavorful, juicy, intensely good! It was topped with bread crumbs, which added a nice layer of texture. The dish was served with red wine sauce, which I used sparingly as the meat itself was already fantastic.

For sides, we tried broccoli, cumin, chilli, almonds (34 RMB) and sauteed wild mushrooms (34 RMB). Each had a bit of spice and a bit of crunch…Vegetables don’t have to be boring after all.

The warm rice pudding, poached rhubarb and sorbet (63 RMB) is not so pretty to look at but it was so gratifying that I couldn’t help but devour one spoonful after another. The rice pudding was supremely rich in vanilla flavor, which might have been too much to take on its own, but when balanced with chunks of targy poached rhubarb, it was perfect. The extra scoop of grapefruit sorbet added a contrast in temperature and flavor as well.

Dessert #2 – strawberries, lavender cream, toasted marshmallows (63 RMB) – was a stylish construction, but flavor-wise I didn’t enjoy this as much. The marinated strawberries are delightful and the lavender cream was surprisingly not too bad (lavender usually tastes a bit too artificial to me), but the whole dish just wasn’t satisfying. A bit too much of a fluff for me, perhaps.

Other than the last dessert, I was very happy with everything we tasted tonight. If I had to pick a three-course meal out of all the dishes I tried, it would consist of: tuna tartar, aged beef sirloin, and warm bread pudding. Now that’s a perfect meal for me right there.

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Written by sugarednspiced

April 4th, 2012 at 10:28 pm