[Shanghai] Table No. 1

Table No. 1

Add: 1/F The Waterhouse, 1-3 Mao Jia Yuan Road, Shanghai 毛家园路1-3号,水舍1楼
Tel: +86 (21) 6080 2918
Website: tableno-1.com
Hours: [lunch] Mon-Fri 12:00pm-2:30pm; [brunch] Sat-Sun 12:00pm-3:00pm; [dinner] Mon-Sun 6:00pm-10:30pm
Price: [tasting menu] RMB488 + 10%; [à-la-carte] RMB350-500
Visited: April 2016
Will return: Definitely

All restaurants must perform a balancing act between showcasing the chef’s inspirations and skills and letting quality ingredients speak for themselves. Lean too far to one end and you run the risk of suffocating your guests; lean too far to the other, you might bore them. But some restaurants manage to walk this line expertly, keeping guests on their toes with bold flavors, but at the same time respecting the natural beauty of ingredients. Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton is one of those restaurants.

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Right from the very start of the tasting menu, Chef Christopher Pitts demonstrated an adeptness at manipulating our taste buds. The acidity and brightness of the Pistachio Feta Dip exploded on my tongue; the tender, succulent Crispy Chicken Thigh was invigorated by the tangy dressing; and the Pickled Olives, Pepper, and Cucumber, as vibrant in flavor as it was in color, awakened my palette completely.

And that is exactly what they were meant to be – an unapologetic wake-up call for our appetite. Chef Pitts chose these snacks – and everything else in the meal – for a clear purpose, and focused on that purpose unwaveringly, not distracted by the desire to “elevate” them with foie gras, caviar, or gold leaf.

IMG_3555 copyHouse Focaccia Bread, Pistachio Dip

IMG_3558 copyCrispy Chicken Thigh

IMG_3561 copyPickled Olives, Pepper, and Cucumber

The same sense of purpose prohibited the seasonings and accompaniments from obscuring the main ingredients. The fresh, briny Fine de Claire held its own confidently in the light, tart vinaigrette of sherry bourbon oak vinegar. The Iberico Pork Jowl, cured in-house for nine months, was reverentially accorded its rightful place on the plate. The paper-thin ribbons of beautifully-marbled meat, lifted by a subtle black pepper bite, were already exquisite on their own, but when complemented by the refreshing pickled vegetables and the crisp and almost weightless slices of radish, I felt like fireworks were going off in my mouth. The restaurant manager said that this was some of the last of their cured pork jowl – they will change their menu when it runs out. I might come back soon just to get another taste of this delicacy.

IMG_3567 copyFine de Claire #2, sherry bourbon oak vinegar, petit shallot

IMG_3569 copyCured Iberico Pork Jowl, pickled garden vegetables, herbs

Working with Fine de Claire oysters and Iberico pork, Chef Pitts seemed to allow his ideas to melt into his pride in the exceptional ingredients. But the Orange Risotto Cake thrusted his ingenuity into the spotlight. The golden brown crust and the rich, dense texture of the risotto cake yielded to the guileless freshness of spring peas and the supple earthiness of morel mushrooms. The orange perfume throughout the dish was as subtle as it was transporting.

IMG_3585 copyOrange Risotto Cake, morels, peas

The Italian Milk-Fed Veal Duo displayed impeccable techniques. The tenderloin was poached to an even, flawless pink throughout, while the aged sirloin was grilled until the fat was perfectly rendered and enveloped by a thin, crispy crust. The sweet potato purée was exquisitely smooth, its natural sweetness and earthiness unconcealed by the cream, and the fleshy but delicate trump mushrooms added another dimension in texture. The rich and profound jus brought all of these elements together. I ate slowly, to prolong the pleasure.

IMG_3605 copyItalian Milk-Fed Veal Duo, sweet potato purée, hazelnut crumble

The Pré-dessert was almost pristine in its naked simplicity. A light and airy honey ginger foam layered over an unadulterated grapefruit jelly, topped with a slightly sweetened grapefruit granita. To call it “refreshing” seems somewhat inadequate.

IMG_3621 copyPré-dessert

There was an undeniable wow factor watching the Raspberry and Violet Soufflé being brought to the table, the towering creation nearly twice the height of the ramekin – it deflated slightly in the few seconds it took me to snap a photo. The magnificent golden crust gave way under the probe of my spoon to the creamy, airy delight hidden underneath. The blueberry ice-cream provided a striking contrast against the warm soufflé, while complementing its intense fruitiness. A light but sumptuous dessert.

IMG_3629 copyRaspberry and Violet Soufflé, blueberry ice-cream

The meal ended with some House-made Chocolates. The chocolate-dipped orange peel tasted surprisingly bright, but my favorite was the one infused with sea salt, herbs, and spices. A bit daring to combine all three into a single chocolate, but the wonderful balance made it a most fitting finale for the meal.

IMG_3653 copyHouse-made Chocolates

The service was attentive and professional. All the servers were knowledgeable about the components in each dish and the techniques involved in their making – quite a rarity in Shanghai, where I’ve encountered servers at some of the best restaurants who needed to consult the kitchen on even the simplest of questions about my dish. I received a glass of smooth, light white wine, compliments of the friendly restaurant manager.

The decor was clean, chic, and untheatrical. The dining room went through a renovation last year that toned down the industrial vibe and added more comfort, like the moss green leather sofas and mustard yellow cushions.IMG_3591 copyIMG_3644 copy

At Table No. 1, you won’t find self-important parades of extravagant ingredients or egotistic gestures of outlandish techniques. But prepare to be impressed by how Chef Pitts manages to preserve the natural charm of ingredients and still surprise your palette with bold and vibrant flavors.

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