Love’s in the air! And we came tonight to what has been rated the Top 10 Most Romantic restaurant along The Bund for couples. Welcome to The Nest.
As you drive down the boulevard along the Huangpu River, the familiar view of The Bund came into view. This is a million-dollar sight, make that trillion-dollars, as most of the UNESCO heritage site are homes to Chinese banks except for one (which still belongs to Bangkok Bank). Even the original banks that were here – HSBC and StanChart – have moved across the river.
To get to The Nest, you get into a refurbished office lobby in one of these heritage buildings. The security guard immediately told you to go to the sixth floor. I guessed all these beautiful people were not working for that German company that occupied three other floors.
The bar came into view as you walked past the huge LED wall along the entrance that showed wide-angle shots of snow-laden and wild Scandinavia, and a joint-event with Grey Goose, the wannabe vodka brand for the social elites with bad tastes. I was referring to the vodka 😉
It’s a Thursday night, and I was not surprised by the quiet atmosphere. The Nest is a gastrobar – a nightclub with a good food menu, so people can choose to either come here to club or to eat. The acrylic/LED art piece hanging above the huge bar throbbed and changed colours to the beat of the club music. If you are looking for a quiet evening, wrong place. I am wondering what the young people of China considered “romantic” to consider this to be in the Top 10.
And then I saw this – the oyster bar. The Nest has a dedicated section away from the cooking stations to shuck oysters. The wall is plastered with the shells, tastefully. Now I can feel the love in the air 😉
Freshly Shucked Oysters from the Raw Bar
Before I went crazy with the oysters, we tested with a half dozen selections. Three types were on offer that evening – Tarbouriech (variant of the bouzigues, also known as the pinky oysters, grown by Florent Tarbouriech), Gaboriau (a variant of the Fine de Claire, from Christophe Gaboriau) and Gillardeau N.5. The first two were not commonly served, as they were farmers’ labelled oysters. This is a recent trend of naming your oysters after yourselves instead of the variety, just like the boutique wines. All the oysters came with the usual lemon wedges, shallot vinaigrette and ginger ponzu sauce (in that black drip bottle).
Florent Tarbouriech operates his farms in the Bassin de Thau, a tideless lagoon near Bouzigues. By artificially recreating tides, the oysters grown on frames and lifted repeatedly from the water and have to “struggle” to survive, making them grow a more dense muscle structure, which in turn gives a better taste and texture. The flavour profile is a clean, crisp oyster with little to no hint of metallic aftertaste.
Fine de Claire is a famous oyster from Marenne-Oleron, the largest oyster-producing region in the world. The oysters are finished in knee-deep claire (rectangular salt ponds) for a minimum of one month, during which they fatten and take on a sweeter, fruitier flavour from the water and phytoplankton in the ponds. Christophe Gaboriau is one of best farmers from that region, and it was obvious from their oysters. We enjoyed the Gaboriau so much that we ordered another dozen.
Vodka Battered Fish & Chips
Super crispy vodka-battered Icelandic cod, served with fries, with smoke malt vinegar, pickled chillis and homemade tartare sauce. Couldn’t taste the cvodke, but I would give full marks for their presentation. Wrapped individual fish fingers with a “newspaper” cone and sticking them in a brick made them perfect bar food. And the deep-fried battered cods were quick delicious and remained crispy even as we left them alone to take photos. Can’t make out any vodka though.
Pan Fried Foie Gras with Red Wine Roast Figs
The combination of the pan fried foie gras changes with the seasons. This time it was figs. The sweet fruit served as the base went well with the fatty, creamy duck foie gras. Instead of drowning the foie gras with balsamic reduction, it was tastefully drizzled on the plate and served with crushed pistachio and pecan and chopped dried fruits.
Aussie Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Charcoal grilled Australian Black Angus sirloin medium rare perfectly done with sides of fries (the same ones served with battered fish) and charred kale.
Instead of au jus, which would make a mess in the lounge, the steak was served with a Sriracha mayo and a pesto horseradish sauce. Not a fan of the sriracha but the pesto horseradish I like.
The highlight was the charred kale. The smoky crispy greens were the only vegetables we got for the evening so they were relished like the best part of the dinner.
Chocolate soooooo Fondant
Pure caribe chocolate fondant with bourbon ice cream, and yes there was 6 ‘O’s in the name because when you break open the lava cake and see the chocolate oozed out – OOOOOO-lala. Even though we were watching our weights, we finished the entire cake.
Two Flavours of Seasonal Ice Cream – Pecan Vanilla and Pistachio Sea Salt Caramel
The ice creams were made fresh at their sister shop, The Cannery (mental note – must go, especially when it was so near my office). The pistachio sea salt caramel ice cream (right) made its regular appearance. But the daily special was the pecan vanilla with milk granules. Enjoyed both, and again finished it all up.
I still did not feel the romance in the air. But at the end of the dinner, I was in love.
The dinner was great – in fact it was one of the best Western place in recent times, and one that was not falsely recommended by the social media. With food like these, you don’t need the social influencers.
It is not all hype and noisy music, there’s quick space outdoors along the balconies where the music is still piped in but you can turn them down.
The whole decor is modern chic, and the washroom doors are flushed along the wall so that it makes a single line of sight. I wasn’t drinking and it took my old eyes to get use to the darkness to find the door to the men’s room. Imagine if you are pissed and trying.
The Nest has lived up to its hype, which is quite rare in Shanghai where everything money can buy, you can get it, including reviews online. I was really enjoyed myself, even though I still don’t understand why it was voted Top 10 Most Romantic.
Happy Valentine’s, everyone!
Tel : 021-63087669
Date Visited : Dec 2020