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Le Bistrot de Racine @ Shanghai

I have been to many Western restaurants in Shanghai and many time those which were good closed down pretty quickly. Those that survived have adapted to local tastes. And then there’s those that claimed to be trained overseas like Le Bistrot de Racine “The Root Bistro”.

The head chef Jacky Wang 王晓飞 returned to Shanghai in 2017 to open this bistro after honing his skills in France.

House Made Breads

Daily Bread

The bread was amazing. The basket came with petite baguette, mixed nuts cracker, focaccia, petit croissant, and bacon & mustard bread, with a side of hand whipped butter. I had the nice white baguette and the bacon & mustard bread – warm, fresh, really excellent. You can also get their baked goods at their own bakery, Fournil, next door.

Rougie Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Fig Jam, Toasted Brioche

Rougie Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Fig Jam, Toasted Brioche

It all started in France in 1875, with the opening of a gourmet shop which would soon become an epicurean’s favourite. On the strength of its increasingly wide reputation, the firm led by Léonce Rougié and subsequently by his son, Jean Rougié, gained a truly international stature as the premium brand for foie gras.

Crunchy toasted brioche with foie gras and fig jam

They took the foie gras terrine from Rougie and slapped it with their own brand (or it was Rougie that provided the white labelling). The Rougie foie gras was nothing to fault about, but it was the toasted brioche that stole the whole show. Extreme crunchiness but not crumbly, that’s a really professional done toastie. There was only 5 pieces of the brioche but 4.4oz of foie gras. We had to use their equally excellent breads to finish all the foie gras. Luckily there was the fig jam to ease the fattiness.

Hokkaido Purple Sea Urchin, Siberian Caviar, Fermented Japanese Plum Wine Gelée

Hokkaido Purple Sea Urchin, Siberian Caviar, Fermented Japanese Plum Wine Gelée

It was an appetiser that came last after everything was served, yes even after the dessert. They didn’t even volunteer to cancel the order, brought it to the table and just apologised. It was sub-standard sea urchin and topped with local Yunnan produced caviar. The worst part of this appetiser was the plum gelée that was totally out of place and cheapened the dish.

Crispy Frog Legs, Parsley Cream, Garlic Bechamel, Smoked Saffron Aioli

Crispy Frog Legs, Parsley Cream, Garlic Bechamel, Smoked Saffron Aioli

Just like the Chinese, the French love love their bullfrogs. These were imported bullfrogs from France and they were much bigger than the local version. Four legs from two frogs, because only the hind legs were served.

Crispy frog leg

I disliked the parsley cream and just ate the crispy frog leg on its own with a dip of the aioli. The batter tasted like KFC 😉

Racine’s Signature Beef Wellington

Everyone came for their beef wellington, so we ordered a portion to share. Came with a side of sautéed asparagus, potato pure and red wine truffle jus. I had the opportune to eat the Wellington by Gordon Ramsay, so this would be a tall order to beat that.

Beef Wellington

First look, it didn’t look like the wellington that was so acclaimed in those articles I saw online and in the magazines. Mind you, those photos were taken 2017 or 2018 when they first opened, so I suspected they changed their plating.

Beef Wellington

The Wellington was almost medium on the sides and pretty rare in the middle, but the foie gras was almost raw. The pastry was pretty horrible, flat and hard. The chopped mushrooms duxelles was under salted. Overall a pretty horrible Wellington.

French Traditional Bouillabaisse

French Traditional Bouillabaisse “Marceilles”

I was a bit apprehensive when they wrote Marseille as “Marceilles”. After the disastrous Beef Wellington, I was starting to doubt the authenticity of their cooking.

Bouillabaisse

The signature bouillabaisse was quite a good catch for seafood lovers – Atlantic halibut, Boston lobster, NZ scampi and blue mussels, clams and squid cooked in a flavourful seafood broth, jazzed up by a dab of sour cream. 

It turned out to be the best course of the evening.

French Mille Feuille

French Mille “Feuile”

Whoever that wrote the menu is not French. Again another spelling mistake in millefeuille. And this millefeuille was not fresh. The cream seemed frozen, and the pastry was hard.

Decoration

Table flowers

It was rated “One of the Most Romantic Restaurant” in Shanghai. And you can see why when you entered the restaurant.

The table was splendidly appointed. The layout used the classic white (and heavy) table cloth with elaborate floral arrangement at each table. The whole space was decorated with an opulent amount of roses too – they were all fresh roses which explained for the flies.

And there’s the ladies favourite teddies, even in the men’s washroom.

Controversy

First, everybody commented on their ¥88 bottle of house water. And the lapses in service level. We were asked to sit at the table right next to the main door, even we had a reservation. The manager had to come and sort out the seating after the mainly Filipino and South Asia staff failed to take action.

After our visit, they were embroiled in a “Dessert”-gate controversy, where some social influencers posted pictures of the desserts and they turned out to be bought from other shops in Shanghai. At first the owners still insisted that they made their own, and then finally came out to acknowledge that they had bought them from several famous dessert cafes as their dessert chef has just quit.

Smoking room?

And there were people actually smoking in the restaurant! Mind you, Shanghai has banned smoking indoors, and that includes the restaurants. Those folks looked like the owners as they were totally out of place (oranges on the table, making their own Chinese tea, etc).

I hope the Michelin inspectors do their work more meticulously next year, this place was not worthy of the Plates mention. I’d rather go to Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagniere, where I would pay the same but get a Michelin star quality and experience.

Le Bistrot de Racine
609 Changde Road, Shanghai, China 静安区常德路609号,近武定路
Tel : +86 21 527 5067

Date Visited : Dec 2020

Michelin Shanghai Guide – Plates 2021

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