Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

Archive for the ‘fine dining’ tag

[London] The Ledbury

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The Ledbury

Add: 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2AQ
Tel: 020 7792 9090
Hours: [Mon] 6:30~10:15pm [Tue-Sat] 12~2pm, 6:30~10:15pm [Sun] 12~2:30pm, 7~10pm
Price: [lunch] £45/5 courses, £85/8 Courses [dinner] £90/8 Courses
Visited on: Jan 2013

Let’s start with the accolades. 2 Michelin stars, #14 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2012, London Restaurant of the Year 2012 by Food and Travel Magazine, and UK’s best restaurant for the third year in a row by National Restaurant Awards. I was lucky enough to snatch one of its highly coveted tables due to a last-minute cancellation on January 1, so this was where my first meal of 2013 took place. Elegant decor, refined service, and most importantly, dishes with delicate and layered flavors that are imaginative but not overly radical.

What a meal to start the new year.

Amuse bouche: Poppy Seed Tartlet with Gruyere Cream. Crispy, creamy, with a hint of cumin.

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Written by sugarednspiced

January 17th, 2013 at 5:01 am

[Sydney] Quay

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Add: Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney 2000
Tel: (61 2) 9251 5600
Hours: [lunch] Tue-Fri 12~2:30pm [dinner] Mon-Sun 6~10pm
Price: [lunch] 125~220 AUD/set [dinner] 165~220 AUD/set
Visited on: 2012-04

I was so mesmerized by the dishes at Quay that at the end of our three-hour lunch, all I wanted was to have the whole thing start over again. Peter Gilmore has the enviable ability to coax the elegance and beauty out of the best ingredients, then orchestrate them on the plate to form a harmonious balance – so ethereal that everything seem held together by not much more than a wish!

The restaurant is set so close to Sydney Opera House that I could almost grab it with my hand. Unfortunately the weather was not shining for us that day, and we could only enjoy the view through heavy curtains of rain. On a sunny day, the pearlescent white of the Opera House against the blue of the sky and ocean would be a most stunning backdrop.

We started with a glass of 2010 Krinklewood Chardonnay from Hunter Valley (17 AUD) and a 2011 Thistle Hill Riesling from Mudgee (18 AUD).

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August 12th, 2012 at 11:14 am

[Shanghai] Issimo Re-Opening Party

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Add: 2/F, 931 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Taixing Lu / 南京西路931号2楼, 近泰兴路
Tel: 3302-4997
Hours: [breakfast] 7~10:30am [lunch] 12:00~2:30pm [dinner] 6:30~10:30pm
Price: [lunch] 118~148 RMB/set [dinner] 300~400 RMB/person [brunch] 288 RMB/person
Visited:  Feb 2012

Just came back from Issimo‘s re-opening party, an absolutely raucous event filled with people having a very good time. The 12-meter-long olive-wood counter was covered in a sumptuous spread of focaccia, grissini, mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled olives, ham and salami of all sorts, not to mention the cohort of waiters waltzing around with plates after plates of hors d’oeuvres…

2014 update: venue closed.

“More mozzarella? Some olive oil and pepper? Tomatoes! How about some olives? Bread, ah yes more bread!” The friendly chefs behind the counter served with such passion, I couldn’t resist anything they put on my plate. Not complaining.

Champagne, refilled a little too promptly for my own good.

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February 22nd, 2012 at 10:57 pm

[Taipei] L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Address: 5/F Bella Vita, 28 Song Ren Rd, Hsin Yi District, Taipei / 台北市信義區松仁路28號Bella Vita 5樓
Tel: (02) 8729 2628
Hours: 11:30am~2:30pm, 6:00pm~10:00pm
Price: [lunch] 1,280~2,880 NTD/set, [dinner] 3,000~6,000 NTD/person
Visited on: 2012-01-26

The dramatic black and red decor, with a sleek dining bar surrounding a central open kitchen. Yes, you are at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Like the rest of the workshops around the world, L’Atelier in Taipei fosters an interactive atmosphere between diners and the kitchen, separated merely by a counter. A vibrant and convivial vibe permeates the air as chefs experiment and create while diners witness the preparation of dishes right before them. Everyone is part of the action.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon 

Bar seats

Open kitchen 

Table setting

If you have groups of 3 or more you can also choose regular tables for easier conversations, but that’s not nearly as fun as sitting at the bar.

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January 29th, 2012 at 4:47 pm

[Hong Kong] 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA

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8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA

Add: Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, Central, Hong Kong / 中環德輔道中5-17號歷山大廈2樓202號舖
Tel: (852) 2537 8859
Hours: 12-2:30pm, 6:30-10:30pm
Price: [lunch] 330 HKD/set (a la carte also available), [dinner] 800 HKD+
Visited: Dec 2011

I won’t be able to describe my dinner at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA in much detail. It was one of those charming experiences filled with constant oohs and ahhs that in retrospect, everything is a blur – the copious amount of wine consumed that evening certainly contributed to the buzz. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

We were lucky to get one of the C-shaped booths in the corners, which provided a great vantage point from which to survey the entire dining room: a comfortable interior in a warm palette of bronze and cream, made festive by Christmas decorations here and there. The faceted mirror ceiling is a nice touch.

Corkage fee at Otto e Mezzo is charged not by the bottle, but by the number of people at the table (100 HKD per person), and in total we only paid 400 HKD of corkage fee for all three bottles we brought that evening (instead of 500 HKD/bottle charged by other high-end restaurants). It all started with a bottle of bubbly Egly Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru (thank you J & C :)

The amuse bouche may look like a chocolate truffle, but it’s actually a cube of chocolate foie gras.

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January 3rd, 2012 at 8:43 pm

[Shanghai] Fu 1015 福 1015

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Fu 1015 福 1015

Add: 1015 Yuyuan Lu 愚园路1015号
Tel: 5237 9778
Hours: 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-10pm
Price: minimum spend 800 RMB/person
Visited: Oct 2011

If you’ve read my previous entry on Fu 1039, you know that the Fu restaurants have established a solid reputation for serving refined Shanghainese dishes in nostalgic old villas. The newest and priciest addition to the series, Fu 1015, promises to be more extravagant in all aspects. So is it really that different from its siblings? Let’s find out.

To fulfill the minimum spend of 800 RMB/person, Fu 1015 pre-arranges menus for all guests. Ours started with an Old Shanghai Smoked Fish 老上海熏魚 (58 RMB). Served hot, crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, flavors all there. Well done.

Shredded Vegetables with Plum Sauce 梅醬十九上素 (58 RMB) was a tower of fried taro sticks and an assortment of shredded vegetables – turnips, red bell pepper, mango, cucumber, and the likes. A refreshing plate especially when drizzled with the accompanying plum sauce.

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October 25th, 2011 at 12:24 am

[Taipei] Justin’s Signatures 饕客食坊

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Justin’s Signatures 饕客食坊

Add: 17, Ln 265, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, Taipei City 台北市敦化南路二段265巷17號
Tel: (02) 2736 8000
Hours: 12-3pm, 6-10pm
Price: [lunch] 1280~2080 NTD + 10% [dinner] 2980~4280 NTD + 10%
Visited: Oct 2011

I wasn’t planning on trying any fine dining restaurants in Taipei, a city that is more known for its street food and chic cafes. Somehow I still ended up making a dinner reservation at Justin’s Signatures, an upscale French restaurant by Singaporean celebrity chef Justin Quek, after it’s been recommended to me by a few friends. The meal, unfortunately, turned out to be a fusillade of culinary fireworks that left me dazed but not amazed. It’s true that each dish was beautifully orchestrated with extravagant ingredients, but somehow the end results fell short of expectations.

We were seated right next to the kitchen, and the constant sliding of the kitchen door was disturbing throughout the meal. It also didn’t help that the table next to us were occupied by an especially rowdy crowd.

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October 16th, 2011 at 7:16 pm

[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.

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May 3rd, 2011 at 11:47 pm

[Shanghai] Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen

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Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen

Add: 2F South Bund 22, 22 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu / 上海市中山東二路22號2樓近新永安路
Tel: 6318 0057
Hours: [lunch] Tue-Fri 12-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 12-4pm [dinner] 6-11pm
Price: [brunch] 238 RMB + 15%/person, drinks extra [dinner] 500 RMB/person
Visited: Oct 2010

Venue has now moved to Bund 22. This review refers to the original Jiangyin Lu location.

Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen is an elegant wine bar/restaurant located in a refurbished 4-story lane house, tucked discreetly into a narrow alley near People Square. Here, it’s all about pairing the right wine with the right food. For those who are overwhelmed by the expansive (over 700 choices) wine list, there is a thoughtfully prepared set menu with accompanying wine. Bright and airy, perfect for Sunday brunch.

Brunch at Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen (238 RMB + 15%/person) is a free-flow of delicious dishes. The brunch theme changes weekly, and on our particular visit the focus is on beef. It started with two appetizers: Brazilian Beef Tenderloin Tartar with Soy Pudding and Crispy Shallot, and Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Parmesan, Red Wine Reduction and Baby Arugula.

Then, Braised Brisket Empanada de Pino with Chimmichuri, and Mesquite Grilled Wagyu Burger with Rougie Foie Gras and Truffled Mayonnaise. My favorite was definitely the Wagyu Burger, which was so good that I ordered a second one after finishing the main courses.

Then there was a Cumin Spiced Chuck Flap Taco with Avocado, Tomato and Lime Coriander Yogurt for seconds, followed by the below choices of mains. First, Dry Porcini Rubbed Rib Eye from the Mesquite Grill with Lemon Garlic Spinach, Pommes Alumettes and Garlic Chianti Demi-glace.

Second, Grilled Striploin with Roasted Garlic Pomme Puree, Cherry Tomato and Basil Compote, Wild Baby Arugula with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel.

Desserts are always my favorite part of the meal, and the ones at Napa did not disappoint. Mango Coconut Canneloni with Lime Sorbet and Pistachio was lovely, with the rich sweetness of mango coconut canneloni balanced by a refreshingly sour lime sorbet. 

Stracciatella Ice Cream with Maple Glazed Fig and Crumbled Sable had a layered texture and flavor combination from the figs, the cream, and the crumbled sable. I ordered seconds on both of these.

Superb service, cuisine, wine, andsetting. Come in the evening for a romantic date or come by during the weekends for a lovely brunch. You will not be disappointed either way.

Click here to see a more recent review.

Written by sugarednspiced

October 17th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

[Shanghai] Yi Long Court 逸龍閣

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Yi Long Court 逸龍閣

Add: 2/F, The Peninsula, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu / 中山東一路32號半島酒店2樓
Tel: 2327 6742
Hours: [lunch] 11:30am~2:30pm [dinner] 6~10:30pm [dim sum brunch] 11:30am~2:30pm (Sat & Sun)
Price: [lunch] 250 RMB [dinner] 400 RMB
Visited: Oct 2010

Restaurant Week stop #6: Yi Long Court at The Peninsula. After a wonderful Restaurant Week lunch at Sir Elly’s, I was under the impression that quality at The Peninsula is not compromised by the 118 RMB price tag and decided to give Yi Long Court a try. The restaurant serves traditional Cantonese cuisine by China’s Michelin Star winner Tang Chi Keung, who was until recently with The Peninsula Tokyo and also served as Chinese Executive of The Peninsula Hong Kong in earlier times.

Lunch here started with dim sum combination (逸龍閣點心拼盤), which includes a shumai, a shrimp dumpling, and a vegetable dumpling. The shumai was excellent in both taste and texture, it’s apparent that the ground pork was of good quality. The shrimp dumpling, on the other hand, had a soft and mushy skin, and the vegetable dumpling on the bland side.

Soup dumpling with shark fin (古法魚翅灌湯餃). Again, lackluster in flavor.

Braised eggplants with minced pork and conpoy (瑤柱肉嵌茄子), a dish worth acclaiming. The eggplants were perfectly braised – not too soft, not too firm, with mouthwatering flavors from minced pork and conpoy.

Braised seasonal vegetables in chicken broth (上湯時令蔬), well executed and presented as nicely as braised vegetables can be presented. The light but flavorful chicken broth was slightly thickened with cornstarch so it adheres to the perfectly cooked leaves. Read the rest of this entry »

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