In the location of the former Sens & Bund a new restaurant opened its doors last week: Mr. & Mrs. Bund. When I read that Paul Pairet is the chef I knew I had to try the place as soon as possible: Mr. Pairet is the former chef at Jade on 36, in my opinion one of the best restaurants in the world. I loved his new creations and amazing taste combinations there, so I was looking forward to try out his new place.
I was therefore happy that we managed to get a reservation last night, especially in one of the busiest weekends of the year – Formula One is in town. We arrived quite early, straight out of the office around 7:30 pm, and the place was still quite empty so we were seated at the window (as requested while making the reservation). The place filled up quickly and by 8:30 most tables in the front part were full with diners. A good mix of foreigners and Chinese, all looking forward to try this new restaurant.
Mr. & Mrs. Bund calls itself a Modern Eatery. And that’s a good description, it’s a mixture of traditional French with a modern global sauce and a big wink to make it not too serious. It already starts at the entrance where the door is now a painted wooden door, like the entrance of a regular restaurant in France. But when you enter you realize the place is not a regular restaurant, it’s huge: on the front and on the sides tables for dining and in the middle a big communal table. The back has a bar and behind the bar is the kitchen. The kitchen has windows, so you can follow exactly what the cooks are doing. The waiters and waitresses wear outfits that are semi-French: French looking but with some added touches to make them almost clownesque – e.g. all waiters seem to wear colorful Converse All-Stars! The atmosphere is very relaxed but still high-class.
The menu itself is probably the biggest I have ever seen. Not only the size, but especially the contents. There are literally hundreds of dishes on it, and everything can be served in different sizes, different ways of cooking and with different sauces. Almost overwhelming, especially when you are like me and would like to try out everything. Just like my favorite restaurant M1NT, Mr. & Mrs. Bund also use the Chinese way of serving food: everything is put in the middle and you can share the dishes. However, they ask you in advance, so if you prefer your own dish that’s also fine.
We started with champagne, their house champagne is excellent and when you ask for a second glass they will give you a new glass instead of filling it up again. Among others we tried foie gras (my standard dish in any restaurant, if it’s on the menu I normally order it), tomato and buffalo salad, huge asparagus (from Yunnan) with Hollandaise sauce, king prawns and Australian beef tenderloin with Bearnaise sauce. The food was in one word excellent. Not as extreme or avant-garde as Jade on 36 was (for some people that was too much, I loved it though), but more regular looking but with some of the same taste sensations. Because you can decide the size of your portions you can take several smaller portions to try more dishes.
The same is true for the wines: the restaurant has 32 wines available that are served in sizes from 4 cl upward, so you can try as many as you like. They have a special Enomatic wine serving machine for these wines, to ensure that they stay well also after opening. They have some excellent wines available per glass, even a 1994 Chateau Petrus (not cheap of course, starting at RMB 1616 for 4 cl of this heavenly red wine). So if you just want to try a few different top wines this is a good place to go. I did not even look at the wine list because of the per glass selection, so I cannot say anything about it here, but I assume there will be some excellent wines on there as well.
I was very impressed by this first visit and will certainly be back soon. The atmosphere is very relaxed, you feel at ease in the restaurant the moment you enter. The service is great, even though the place just opened a week ago. When the head waiter looked at our order he came to our table and advised us to take one salad less because their portions are quite big. I think that’s just excellent. Also when we left we forgot that we had coats, but the waiting staff reminded us at the door. Small things like this often make the difference between a good and an excellent restaurant. If you like high-end food is a nice atmosphere I can only recommend this place. Even the prices are very reasonable for this kind of top restaurant, including some good wines (but no Petrus!) we paid about RMB 1500 for our dinner experience.
Mr. & Mrs. Bund, 6/F, Bund 18 (close to Nanjing Road), reservations: 021-6323 9898 Open 7 days a week, dinner only