French dining — particularly when the restaurant is located in as prestigious a location as Shanghai’s Bund area — can sometimes be overly stiff and austere. There is, however, no such awkwardness at chef Paul Pairet’s, a modern French eatery that has food and décor worthy of a fine-dining establishment and yet possesses the bon vivant heart and spirit of a quintessentially French brasserie.
Located within Bund 18 (the former Chinese headquarters for the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, now restored as one of Shanghai’s premier lifestyle addresses), Mr & Mrs Bund was launched by chef Pairet and the VOL restaurant group in 2009, and has since gained a solid reputation as a must-visit for both locals and tourists alike thanks to its innovative menu and convivial atmosphere. Swanky postal code notwithstanding, the eatery has an irreverent streak and is, quite simply, a lot of fun. It has eschewed convention and bucks expectations with its ‘no unnecessary bells and whistles’ policy, offering food that is meant to be shared family-style, served by highly trained staff decked out in denim and Converse sneakers.
Although unpretentious, the food is decidedly top-notch. The menu is big and is fairly flexible with a mix-and-match quality to it. While the size of the menu ensures that there is probably something for everyone, of particular note are a few particularly decadent dishes: the Foie Gras Light Crumble (foie gras mousse with raisin hazelnut crumble), the Meunière Truffle Bread and the Long Short Rib Teriyaki are all ‘heart-stoppingly’ good. Chef Pairet’s creativity shines through with inventive dishes such as Jumbo Shrimp 'In Citrus Jar' and the restaurant’s signature Lemon & Lemon Tart (candied lemon filled with lemon sorbet, lemon curd, vanilla Chantilly and served with sablé).
When finished with dinner and looking for somewhere to party the night away or to have a nightcap, one simply needs to head upstairs to reach— one of Shanghai’s best-known nightspots.
A mainstay in the city’s party scene, Bar Rouge remains one of the most popular bars with the glitterati in Shanghai and it is easy to see why. The cocktails are among the best in the city, it does a great happy hour (with delectable tapas options catered by Mr & Mrs Bund) and one can order Dom Pérignon by the glass. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the high-octane, highly entertaining bar fire dance by one of Bar Rouge’s resident bartenders, which either takes place around midnight or upon special request by a customer.
But, perhaps most importantly, the view of the Huangpu River from Bar Rouge’s terrace is really quite spectacular and never fails to impress. A chilled glass of champagne, some upbeat electro/house music and the wind blowing in your hair as you enjoy the Pudong skyline by night — how’s that as a recipe for a great night out?