Restaurant Week in Shanghai is a great way to try some of Shanghai’s swankiest restaurants without the swanky price tag. For one week, the participating restaurants offer set menus for lunch and dinner at majorly discounted prices, most offering 3 courses so you can try a little of everything. The lunch menus are usually priced at 128 RMB ($20 USD) which is perfect for us Shanghai expats who might not be able to try these places otherwise. This week, I went with 3 friends to lunch at La Pedrera, a Spanish restaurant on the Bund. The set menu included an appetizer, starter, main, and desert. Needless to say I left so full I thought I’d never eat again.
The restaurant’s atmosphere was amazing. The room was spacious with really high ceilings, really a beautiful space. It is right off the Bund, so if the weather was nicer it would have been great to walk off the huge meal, but today was a little bit too cold. I can’t wait for the weather to heat up, but I know I’ll regret that when July rolls around. The menu had 3 choices for the starter and main, with a set app and desert. The appetizer was crusty bread with tomato spread and Spanish olives. It was really simple and tasty.
For my starter I had the tomato and tuna salad with a red onion vinaigrette. I loved it because it was very light but not bland, and came with some sea salt and capers. Most people don’t like capers, but I have always loved them. I used to eat them with smoked salmon when I was a kid, so I guess they are a nostalgic food for me, but I love them with fish. Two of my friends had the zucchini soup with salmon, and one other tried the risotto. The risotto didn’t look too appetizing to me since it was black from the squid ink, but my friend said it was tasty so I guess that is all that matters.
Between all four of us we tried all of the mains. The presentations were great and the portions were generous. I chose the beef cheek with red wine & mushroom sauce. I was a little disappointed because after I ordered they told me the beef cheek was sold out and asked if I would like a sirloin. I’m not one to make too much trouble at a restaurant so I agreed. The meat was good quality and really tender, but a little too done for my taste. It was medium, which is perfect for most people, but I love a good medium rare steak. It came with sauteed squash and zucchini, with a little balsamic glaze on the side.
I have to say, while it was tasty, I didn’t think the red wine & mushroom sauce was too flavorful. I would have like a little bolder flavor, especially because my friends’ entrees had much more pronounced flavors. The pork came with truffle mashed potatoes and a Px (pedro ximinez) reduction, I snuck a bite and it was great. All in all, it was nice steak, but I would probably choose something else next time.
The desert was really amazing. It isn’t something that I would usually order out, but it was nice and light after the steak. It was poached pear in red wine with almonds and cinnamon on top, with an almond custard and vanilla ice cream. I think I ate mine in about 2 minutes.
All in all, I was really impressed with La Pedrera. The service was great, the food was fresh and tasted awesome, and the atmosphere was relaxing. I am so happy that Shanghai does Restaurant Week so that I can try some of these nicer restaurants. Next time I am hoping to get a seat at one of Jean-Georges’ restaurants, a girl can dream.