Le Bistrot de Racine opened this summer with little fanfare, joining the already crowded pond of French bistros in Shanghai. With just over three months under its belt, the restaurant is already hitting its stride with both food and service, riding comfortably between laid-back indulgence and refined elegance.
[Shanghai] Le Bouchon
An institution of French cooking in Shanghai if ever there was one, Le Bouchon is the oldest French restaurant in the city, and has been serving up French classics for longer than many of us have lived here. As the restaurant reopens its doors after a brief summer hiatus – just in time for its 20th anniversary – it is clear that despite the new management team and revamped menu, Le Bouchon’s brand of old-school, no-frills French cooking hasn’t changed a bit.
[Shanghai] Épicerie & Caviste 62 Le Bec
Even though it is barely two months old, Épicerie 62 already has the air of a neighborhood establishment that has stood for decades, where it feels as if nothing changes but the day of the week, the constancy its own brand of excitement. It has built a narrative that weaves itself into our Paris daydreams, a way for us to feel Parisian at every moment of the day. That, more than anything else, is why I will be going back time and again.
[Shanghai] Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire
The level of antithesis found throughout Le Comptoir is fascinating: French vs. global, traditional vs. modern, bistro-style cooking against gleaming silverware, casual vibe among starched white tablecloths.
But despite these contrasts – and sometimes because of them – Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire does laid-back refinement better than possibly anywhere else in town.
DODU materialized quietly in a compact, two-story space on Changshu Road early this year. In the short months since, it quickly established itself as one of the best spots for rotisserie chicken in Shanghai, bringing joy to French expats and locals alike with this beloved French comfort food.
[Shanghai] seul & SEUL
seul&SEUL delivers a tasting menu format at a relatively friendly price, but with more ceremony than quality. Whether we are willing to pay for that format, or prefer places that sit in the same price range but offer higher standards with less ceremony – that is a decision each of us will make for ourselves.
[Shanghai] Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen
A veteran on the Bund of 10 years, Napa Wine Bar and Kitchen is known not just for their extensive wine cellar, but also for their stellar wine-focused cuisine. Chef Francisco Araya uses seasonal ingredients to create elegant and compelling dishes, and manages to give pleasure without going out of his way to please.
My recent experience at Phénix felt like a roller coaster ride, with exhilarating highs interspersed with depressing glitches. Still, a few of the dishes were compelling enough to go back for.
[Shanghai] Bo Shanghai
Bo Shanghai’s techniques are very far from Chinese cooking, but the food is noticeably inspired by the flavors and traditions of China. Their creations often take the spirit of China’s regional cuisines and come up with an entirely reimagined rendition, keeping me on my toes with a sense of discovery, but, at the same time, comforting with its familiarity.
[Shanghai] Chop Chop Club
From a certain angle, the Chop Chop Club can feel somewhat old-fashioned. And yet, nothing here tastes old. Everything that comes out of the kitchen dances across the taste buds with vigor and liveliness, the flavors uncomplicated and remarkably easy to love. There is nothing fancy or terribly intricate about the cooking here, only a heady, engaging combination of energy, heartiness, and unabashed indulgence, livened up with a touch of Paul Pairet’s whimsical imagination.