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Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

j
justtryit Dec 2, 2010 07:44 AM

I've been looking for a Western restaurant with exemplary food to have a weeknight dinner at in January. Have a craving for Western flavors and techniques, so am straying away from places like JG that seem to use a fair amount of Asian flavors. If I had to specify between comforting (say Thomas Keller) vs. intellectual food (say David Kinch), I'd actually prefer more comforting food this time around. That said, if the kitchen is doing classic dishes, I'm looking for textbook versions or inspiring/whimsical twists on them (a la TK).

Date atmosphere is a plus, but less important than lustful food. Meaning we would like to linger over the food and not feel rushed.

Narrowed it down to these 3 after having read the board and other blogs, but can anyone compare each against each other? Other suggestions welcomed, but I am leaning towards Mr & Mrs Bund based on these impressions (de-bunk if wrong!)

Mr & Mrs Bund:
+ Classic dishes and combinations done with new-age technique and whimsy
+ Late hours should ensure relaxed meal pace
+ Seems to be the most unique of the three and least likely to find something comparable outside of Shanghai
- Menu seems absurdly large, but I can't find one in English to see just how "scattered" it really is. Generally I am scared of places that offer too much variety, for fear that they can't focus on doing anything expertly
- The least intimate atmosphere of the 3...seems a bit cavernous

Franck:
+ Classic French dishes
+ Most intimate atmosphere (but is the noise level "raucous"?)
- Not sure what the price point is here. Can anyone ballpark a total for 2-3 starters, 2 mains, and 2 desserts.
- If this really is aiming to be a classic French bistro, it will conjure many points of comparison...how good is it when removed from Asia, and stacked up against a good French bistro in the US, Montreal, etc. Scared that it's a "good bistro for Asia" rather than just a "good bistro".

Stiller's:
+ Most obvious display of newer culinary techniques
+ Seems to best offer the feeling of stumbling upon an up & coming restaurant and area
- Most expensive
- Flavors seem more "international" than I was initially searching for.
- Overall the cuisine and concept seem very commonplace among the upper level of dining these days. While it seems good, I don't feel compelled to spend my meal here if I can find comparable experiences elsewhere, unless the food really is one-of-a-kind

  1. j
    justtryit Feb 22, 2011 07:59 PM

    just wanted to report back on Mr & Mrs. Bund. The service and atmosphere were what I expected: good by China standards, but a bit pushy for service and cavernous atmosphere by Western standards. On the whole I was disappointed in the taste of the food.

    -Beef tartare dish had too many other flavors that overpowered the taste of the beef. Too much seasoning and herbs.
    -The oversized french fry was interesting, but not flavorful enough to outlast the novelty. The mustard sorbet did not work well...too strong for the taste of the potato, and the cold clashes with the hot of the fried potato.
    -The rack of lamb had a tasty olive, herb, and garlic crust, but the meat itself did not taste like lamb. It was cooked fairly well though.
    -Lemon & lemon tart was the hit of the night, but would have preferred more curd.

    A creative meal, but fell short on flavor. Would not go back for dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: justtryit
      epeter03 Feb 22, 2011 08:10 PM

      I'd have to agree. It's sad that Shanghai's "top" establishments fall so short of just about every other SE Asia countries 'Top' eateries.

      Mr & Mrs its just another perfect example of the smoke and mirrors which is high-end eating in Shanghai. Great views of The Bund, a 'known' chef, lackluster service and no substance to the food with hit-or-miss consistency.

      The oversize french fry, i tried it too on the suggestion of the waiter. What a waste of money....

    2. s
      sugarednspiced Feb 15, 2011 05:33 AM

      I think Stiller's and Mr and Mrs Bund are up there together, but Franck...meh, perhaps I just went on a bad night.

      I especially like Stiller's brunch, which is a free flow of delicious small plates so you get to try everything once and decide on your seconds: http://www.sugarednspiced.com/stillers/

      Mr and Mrs Bund is also wonderful. The foie gras light crumble is simply divine, and the lemon & lemon tart is something out of the ordinary as well. http://www.sugarednspiced.com/mr-mrs-...

      1 Reply
      1. re: sugarednspiced
        epeter03 Feb 22, 2011 08:20 PM

        I'll have to give Stiller's another chance; this time for brunch but not until it warms up. They do have a great little view and I do like the decor.

        Avalon has become fairly standard for me. Some hit-and misses on the amuse bouche (which i don't mind when the chef is trying out new things) but the constancy of their appetizers and mains brings me back. House made charcuterie, is a nice touch and generous sized appetizer. The menu is fairly eclectic but they do have the best ribs i've tasted in Shanghai. Wine list is very approachable and service is friendly

      2. s
        Supernatural Dec 21, 2010 05:55 PM

        This 3 all my fav places.

        For M&M Bund.
        Been there 3 times. First visit was 7 dishes and 3 hit and missed. 2nd and 3rd visit 80% dishes all went well.

        Franck
        "Not sure what the price point is here. Can anyone ballpark a total for 2-3 starters, 2 mains, and 2 desserts."
        starter range 90 to 150 Rmb
        Mains 190 to 300
        Dessert 60 to 80

        Stiller's
        4 times there and all four scores high on my scores sheet. Last time I was there for their Brunch in begining of Dec. I might be lucky as my another friends

        2 Replies
        1. re: Supernatural
          j
          justtryit Dec 22, 2010 05:14 PM

          Thanks for the price info on Franck! I think that settles it for me, as it is roughly a push in price with M&M Bund.

          Stiller's for dinner just seems too expensive to commit to, so I was planning to stop by the bakery to see what the atmosphere of the place is like and perhaps get swayed into trying them out for a meal. I also think I'd rather try them out at their Sunday lunch price.

          1. re: justtryit
            k
            kobri Jan 10, 2011 07:24 AM

            If it is not too let now, my comments on Shanghai. Mr.&Mrs Bund has a very good price/quality ratio for Shanghai. The plus point is that you can chose wines by glass, if you don't want to take the whole bottle.
            Stiller's I have visited several times, and mostly it was good, so I can recommend it too.
            Franck was dissapponting for me, the same for Jean George.

        2. epeter03 Dec 15, 2010 11:54 PM

          My takes on the 'Western' establishments in Shanghai:

          Goga - is Brad Turley's new place. California, so there is a hint of Asian, but one of the better choices for seafood

          Stiller's - I was totally let down with the tasting menu and wine pairing a few years ago and haven't gone back. Stiller was in the kichen, so no excuses.

          Table #1 - I had a dinner by the Chef, small private room Out of 8 dishes one was very good

          Mr. & Mrs. Bund - Bit of a let down, beef cheeks were poorly cooked and standard Shanghai service (bad)

          Franck - I've heard good things about the food & Service and bad about the service (but never food)

          JG - I've had a few nice meals here but no wows

          Avalon - Chef just left, but used to be a great place to eat. Best bbq pork ribs i've had in Asia

          Fulton Place - Good chef, bad front house. Or else i might suggest this place

          David Laris's Empire of ~7 eateries - stay away from all, all of them are mediocre at best

          T8 - Had a few meals here, some hits and some misses. Again there are some Asian influences, hard not to find places without any

          Final suggestion JG or the wild card Frank. But if you have the cash and want Good Eats, fly to HK.
          I'd be interested to hear where you end up going and if you liked it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: epeter03
            s
            Supernatural Dec 21, 2010 06:15 PM

            Completely agreed on David Laris.
            Putting his name on almost everywhere nowadays and some joint is a joke.

            1. re: epeter03
              j
              justtryit Dec 22, 2010 05:06 PM

              Very helpful summary! I looked into Goga, but at the end of the day I don't see it as being any different than 80% of the restaurants in SF (where I lived for the last 3 years), so I'm not very interested despite it sounding like a great experience.

              I also looked into Table #1, and I might drop in there for a small plate or two, but doesn't seem special enough to me for a surprise date type of occasion.

              Franck is really tempting...but I think I am going with Mr & Mrs Bund as their technique sounds a bit more spectacular. Though Franck sounds like the surefire for comforting cuisine, I would rather pay relatively the same price for the added bonus of some culinary showmanship at M&M Bund.

              I just spent 2-3 weeks in HK, though I didn't have any Western food...

              1. re: epeter03
                PeterL Dec 25, 2010 08:34 AM

                Interesting that the name "Goga" means high price in Chinese, although I know it's named after the Golden Gate.

                1. re: epeter03
                  j
                  Julienderdre Feb 20, 2011 09:08 PM

                  Le Bouchon - The only authentic, traditional French restaurant in town. That's where you want to go if you're missing real French food. Although it's far from perfect, some dishes are to avoid, other are killers (beef tartare, foie-gras terrine...).

                  Mr & Mrs Bund - Alway good and not that expensive if you know how/what to chose. Atmosphere's not great though, light is wrong, tables size is confusing (probably because they kept everything and never changed from SENS & Bund). A bit of re-deco would have been great.

                  Franck - Good food but super pricy

                  JG - Got bored at the end but their under 200RMB lunch option is a must (including one of the best foie-gras in town)

                  Maison Pourcel Restaurant - My fave right now, not cheap but huge portions, service is impeccable. 488RMB for a 4 course dinner. That's a go.

                2. t
                  teenglutton Dec 15, 2010 09:05 PM

                  I visited Shanghai a few months ago and I dined at Mr & Mrs Bund. The main menu is really large but they created a "rookie menu" where they listed their bestsellers and and items that a first-timer should order. Portions are huge for a fine dining place; I suggest that you share some items with your dining companions. Good food and service.

                  Why dont you try Jean Georges? I enjoyed my meal there better than the one I had at Mr & Mrs Bund. My mom ordered the egg caviar, sea bass, and the chicken fillet. I forgot what she had for dessert. I had the sea urchin on toast, lamb chops and another dish that I can't remember right now. Sorry about not remembering the names of the dishes. I assure you though that everything my mom and I had was wonderful.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: teenglutton
                    j
                    justtryit Dec 22, 2010 04:59 PM

                    I went to Jean Georges in 2006 and enjoyed it, and I know it certainly has maintained a reputation for being among Shanghai's best...but my reason for not wanting to dine there is a bit petty. I live a road trip away from NYC, so at some point in my life, I plan to go to his flagship in NYC, so I guess I figure I'll just wait for his best effort.

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