Fine dining has some how become synonymous with epic, bank account reducing gastronomic menus. While these are great (and sometimes life changing) you’re probably not going to want them every night of the week. Most nights you just want great food, reasonably priced and if there is great service, all the better. In Shanghai, that’s Nougatine.
Nougatine is an idea borrowed from Jean-Georges’ NYC restaurant. It serves bistro-style food in the re-purposed bar area of Jean Georges at 3 on the Bund in Shanghai. There’s a 3-course prix fixe dinner for only 250 RMB (about $37 USD) and various a la carte seasonal selections… I’d call them superbly executed, comfort food classics.
We recently were able to enjoy at meal at Nougatine. We’ve previously been to the Jean-Georges location in Shanghai last summer so we knew about the grand interiors…. but the warm, cozy decorations felt that much better when escaping from the cool winter air on the streets. We were handed updated menus with some exciting bistro classics as well as creative new options. The prix fixe offerings looked lovely, but there was too much to try on the regular menu… so we opted to go family style.
We split 3 appetizers between the 3 of us. The highlight for everyone was the Truffle Fontina Pizza (148 RMB or about $20 USD). The crust was light and crispy and perfectly seasoned, absorbing the truffles and transforming something as common as a pizza into a simple yet sophisticated culinary delight.
Next was the Warm Asparagus Salad (68 RMB about $10 USD) – the asparagus was perfectly cooked and dressed with care. An excellently executed and exciting veggie dish… no small feat.
Lastly for the first course were the Crunchy Crab Beignets. Great crab flavor and balance of textures. The sauce, as is always the case with Jean-Georges, helped elevate the dish into something refined.
Then it was time for the main courses. Joanna had the Slow Cooked Salmon with Braised Mushroom, Onion Compote and Dill. Grilled salmon is Joanna’s new comfort food and this was an excellent rendition of it.
I wanted to go for the Roast Chicken as I’d read so much about it and absolutely love Roast Chicken… but let my mind get the better of me. You see, I thought I’d be “lame” if I ordered such a basic dish on this night out. In the end I ended up ordering another dish, going with the Carmelized Beef Tenderloin with Herbal Spinach, Crunchy Potato and Bearnaise Sauce. Mostly because I was in the mood for some spinach and have been reading a lot about Bearnaise sauce. The steak was cooked to perfection (it’s hard to get a proper medium rare steak in Asia) with a great carmelization on the meat. The Bearnaise was frothy and had a rich, complex flavor. Our dinner guest Matthew even tried it with the bread and found it delicious :)
Lastly Matthew ordered the Roasted Red Snapper, Leek and Pistachio Fondue with a Spice Vinaigrette. When I asked him about his fish, he replied simply, “amazing”. We all had a bite and had to agree.
I have a rule to try and order anything with the name of the restaurant or special next to it (though I didn’t get the Jean-Georges burger) and so had to order the JG Chocolate Cake. The molten cake here makes the ones served other restaurants taste like cardboard with Hershey’s syrup poured on top.
Joanna went with the Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Compote. She said it was one of the best cheesecakes she’s had in a long time… no small thing for a New Yorker to say.
Matthew had the Calamansi Lime Tart with Thai Chili Mascarpone Cream. A dessert that could have easily failed given the unusual flavor combinations… but this is just the kind of thing one should order when at Jean-Georges as it is this deep knowledge of flavor profiles and the way ingredients work together that raises him to the level he’s at today. If there’s some unusual items placed together on a menu… you can be sure it works.
After dinner we sat back and reflected on the dinner over cappuccinos. I lamented the fact that there’s nothing similar in Singapore… if there was I’d be eat there at least once a week. The value at Nougatine is excellent. The quality of food coming out of the kitchen is miles beyond similarly priced meals coming out of other restaurants. Add to that the stunning atmosphere and impeccably trained service staff and you have a real winner.
Since we regularly stay just up the street at the Westin when in Shanghai on business I see myself stopping by here at least once on every visit. If not for a meal, then just a drink at the bar and a snack of Truffle Pizza… can’t imagine a better afternoon treat
Nougatine (Jean-Georges on the Bund)
No. 3 on the Bund, 4th Floor
3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road
Shanghai, China 200002
Telephone: +86 21 6321 7733