Brunch at Cuivre, Possibly Best Brunch in Shanghai 2016

8th July 2016 / Shanghai

Chef Michael Wendling was an early fan of my work, which led him to invite me to his 2 eateries, T for Thai and CU2+, which I subsequently reviewed. I don’t exactly know why, but I never made it down to his flagship French restaurant, Cuivre, until now, nearly 2 years later.

Entrance
Entrance

I visited Cuivre for their weekend brunch, without a reservation. Luckily, I arrived at 11:00am and realized they only started at 12:00pm, but I managed to get a seat at 11:45am anyways, with the condition that I finish by 1pm.

That being said, reservations are strongly recommended. If you really want to score a seat without a reservation, you can try what I did and arrive before opening. Bargain for a seat with the promise that you will leave by 1pm (usually the time for 2nd round of reservations).

Tables slowly getting filled up at 12pm
Tables slowly getting filled up at 12pm

Decor

Cuivre has been around for many years now, but the decor didn’t look old, instead, it was clean and comfortable. I wouldn’t call it modern, but homely, in the good sense; Pretty dim lighting if not lit by natural daylight, with lots of wooden furniture.

Bar Area
Bar Area

The bar area had books on the shelves, lending more to the ‘feel at home’ concept. Tables are plenty, and well spaced apart. I particularly liked the leather-clad wooden chairs. 7.5/10

Service

It seemed that Cuivre was short on staff at the time of writing, because co-owner Fanny and their pretty French manager Celine were hustling between tables and kitchen. That said, my order was taken proactively (maybe because they needed me out by 1pm), and food was served very promptly (again, maybe my order was expedited because I had to leave by 1pm, possibly perks to appear without a reservation!)

All in all I left the restaurant at 12:40pm, which was quite remarkable because at 12:15, it was entirely full house.

Other than Fanny and Celine, the chinese servers were quite uninspired. I asked for the bill from one of the chubby male waiters, and he looked at me, and simply ignored me. That said, with all due credit to the former duo, service does deserve a 8/10

Food

Brunch pricing was simple. Choose any 3 dishes from their brunch menu for 198rmb. That said, certain dishes are upsold at an extra price premium.

The obligatory instagram top-down shot
The obligatory instagram top-down shot

Foie Gras au torchon, bacon jam (+58rmb)

A nice big slab of foie gras, marinated in sherry. This was a textbook perfectly flavoured foie gras. Rich, delicately sweet that was not gamey, and melted like butter on the tongue. The bacon jam had a very unique balance of sweet and savoury flavours.

Foie Gras au Torchon
Foie Gras au Torchon

The generous serving of bread that accompanied it was off the norm as well. Toasted soft white bread, which I suspect to have been made with a panini press. The slices were evenly toasted, lightly crisp on the outside and soft, fluffy on the inside. They went super well with the foie gras.

Slide the photo left/right to see how much was left over!

This was simply one of the best foie gras dishes I’ve had in recent memory. Generously served, and expertly made. 9.5/10

Smoked Salmon on Rosti
Smoked Salmon on Rosti

Smoked Salmon on Rosti, poached egg

Served on a little non-stick skillet. I was already pleased when I set eyes on the rosti, because I could see that it was crisp throughout, without any charring. This was a rosti that was patiently cooked at low-medium heat so the potatoes would dry and crisp up without burning. It was the rosti I’ve been searching for at restaurants all 10 years of my life in Shanghai.

Slide the photo left/right to see how much was left over!

The poached egg, perfectly done with the yolks set and slightly runny. The smoked salmon tasted pleasant, still retaining flavours of salmon with some of the cured flavours.

The sauce whose name escaped me, was abundant and just nice to finish the entire dish with. All in all, a superbly well executed and thought out dish, given that they were full house at the time and would’ve been struggling with orders. 9.5/10

French Toast hipster style
French Toast hipster style

French Toast

The french toast at Cuivre was actually the dish that I had anticipated the most. Friends of mine would know that I am not a dessert fan. However, I’ve heard great things about the french toast at Mr & Mrs Bund (which I have yet to try); It looked like simply a piece of darkened toast on a plate. Yet it had won the accolades of many foodies in Shanghai. How good can a french toast be?!

Slide the photo left/right to see how much was left over!

Then I saw that Cuivre was serving their version of the dish. It looked remarkably similar. It too, had garnered many accolades from foodies in Shanghai, and was touted as the affordable alternative to MMB’s. What a good opportunity for me to try this mythical french toast.

When my french toast arrived, I was quite dismayed. It was unevenly seared on both sides and bordering charred. As it was the last dish, I think it was at the point where the kitchen was overwhelmed, hence they seared the french toast on high heat to cook it faster.

A little bit of a disappointment
A little bit of a disappointment

Unfortunately, the result was that the sugar crust was cooked and charred too quickly, resulting in an uneven crust, and semi-cooked bread. The texture of the french toast tasted more like a wet  pancake, with bits of caramelised crust.

The creme anglaise was nicely seasoned, and I imagined would’ve been very nice with crispy bites of french toast. Vanilla ice cream would’ve also been a great pairing. Sadly, this one was a 6/10

All that said, I think the French Toast was a one time flop because Chef Wendling was not around that morning. There are still a number of brunch items that are highly rated, and I’ve yet to try.

I’m already yearning to return to try the other things, if I can stop myself from ordering the smoked salmon on rosti.

TSK Rating

8.2
Food
8.5
Service
8.5
Venue
7.5

Address
1502 Huaihai Zhong Lu

Phone
6437-4219

Cuisine
French

City
Shanghai

Area
French Concession

Landmarks
huai hai rd

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