February 25, 2016 / 6 Comments
The sister restaurant of the three Michelin starred Hong Kong venue of the same name, Otto e Mezzo kept popping up on my Shanghai to do list. As I’d skipped the HK version on my last visit, I was eager to take the opportunity to try the Shanghai incarnation – so I snuck in a visit enroute to my flight home to Dubai.
This meant I was dining solo as my travel companion had departed a day earlier – but a lonely experience it was not. Apart from the stunning decor (I’ll come back to that in a moment), the first thing I noticed that truly stood out here is the warmth of the service. Over the course of the meal, never have I been made to feel so welcome at a restaurant of this calibre (or otherwise). Noticing (well, I’m not sure how you could not) that I was dining alone, the team members often checked on me, engaging in conversation without invading my own personal dining space should I really have wanted an entirely solitary experience. Hearing my passion for food and restaurants, they even took me on a tour of the restaurant and cellar, and the chef came out twice to chat. In some ways I felt the I dined with the team that night. It’s that personal touch that sets truly ‘fine dining’ apart from those that merely pay the term lip service.
So back to the decor. Being an Italian restaurant in Shanghai, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the restaurant design – and what I saw when entering definitely didn’t match with the little I had assumed. In the best way, that is. The decor is lush, rich, elegant…a blend of dark and light tones, a melange of textures. The metallic ceiling will have you gazing deeply into it’s facets – I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe one day I’ll ask their interior designer to build me a walk in wardrobe just the same so I can escape into such a magical space on a daily basis. I also had a magnificent view of the Pearl Tower performing it’s nightly ‘dance’ out the window – something that is just so iconically ‘Shanghai’ and always feels a treat to gaze upon.
The breads set the tone for what was to come. Three types of artisan bread and breadsticks with top notch olive oil and balsamic made for one of the best bread baskets I’ve had at a restaurant. I was rather enjoying just soaking in the view, nibbling on the breads and sipping some lovely chardonnay when my main course arrived. Being short on time with a flight to catch, I headed straight for the good stuff – truffles and pasta.
I ordered the burrata filled ravioli with black truffles – you really can’t go past truffles when you dine at Otto e Mezzo, as I hear Chef Bombana is a rather passionate fan of the pricy funghi. The sizable Perigord truffles arrived at my table in an ornate wooden box emblazoned with ‘Officine Panerai’ – the good stuff. This wasn’t pomp and ceremony but more like pasta and ceremony. The black gold nuggets were then handled with much care (and white gloves), freshly shaved in generous proportions onto my pasta at the table. The burrata almost leapt out of the ravioli as I cut into them, and was a perfect velvety foil to the delicate truffle. I hope you can imagine by now how delicious this dish tasted. Not a large portion – I wouldn’t have refused seconds, but maybe savouring the morsels of ravioli made it all the better.
Little did I know the best was yet to come. I ordered the pear tart for dessert, and this was a simple sounding dish executed to perfection. I think it may have been the most stunningly delicious tart, nay dessert, I have eaten. The pastry was cooked to perfection, the ice cream superb and the grappa sabayon sublime. Although I’d love to try another dessert on my next visit, I’m not sure I could pass up the opportunity to experience this dish again. Oh, and you won’t want to share it – trust me.
Dining at 8 1/2 is simply a must do in Shanghai. Is it expensive? Certainly. Was it value, even at it’s high prices? Absolutely. Should you happen to be in Shanghai on a Sunday, I’d recommend taking advantage of their brunch menu – a great value package. Also, wines are better value by selecting a bottle from their encyclopaedic wine list than the glass – so go thirsty and enjoy. Enjoy is something I guarantee you’ll do here.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Dinner: everyday 6pm to 11pm
Brunch: Sundays 11:30am to 3pm
Cocktail Bar: 5pm until 1am
Tel : 021-60872890