In this edition of my Shanghai Ultimate Brunch guide, I visited The Nest.
The Nest has been one of Shanghai’s go-to night spots for awhile, and was once very unique in the sense that you could get some gourmet food while partying the night away.
It came as a surprise to me when I found out that The Nest had a brunch every Sunday — I knew I had to check it out.
As one entered the restaurant, you would see the familiar spinal light, only this time, in reversed lighting, with the ambient daylight lighting the installation instead.
I would guess that 90% of usual patrons of The Nest had never seen how it looked like in the day, prior to their brunch opening. I was pleased to find the spacious nightspot free of stale cigarette smoke, considering that a huge party took place here the night before.
Seatings are mixed between high tables and stools, and bright coloured cushioned couches with coffee tables for a relaxing Sunday brunch with the family. During our visit, most of the couch seatings were occupied, so reservations are a must if you wish to occupy the premium area.
What I truly liked about the atmosphere was that it was spotlessly clean, relaxed and comfortable; There was somehow a living room vibe. 8.5/10
As this was a hosted tasting, an unbiased score of 7.5 is given. In general, I didn’t encounter nor observed any issues with service.
Sunday Brunch is offered as a three course set for RMB198, with additional dishes costing RMB68. This makes it the same price as Cuivre, slightly more expensive than the sets at The Commune Social and The Bull & Claw, but cheaper than Mr and Mrs Bund.
It is worth noting that a welcome drink is provided in the set, which on our visit, was a Yakult and Grey Goose concoction.
The menu was clean and concise, with only 21 options to choose from, something I appreciate very much.
Breton oysters I believe. The oysters at The Nest have long been famed, so these were expectedly of exceptional quality. However, they were not properly shucked — the bottom muscle had not been cut through and the oyster was not flipped.
Some people like their oysters presented this way, as a gauge of freshness. I, on the other hand, hate having to tear away oyster from shell while trying to slurp it. 6/10
Greenland on Toast
Said to be a classic dish at The Nest. In fact, this seems to be a popular way of serving arctic shrimp in my experience; Arctic shrimp dressed with sour cream and dill-lime mayo on sourdough toast. This was bright and refreshing. Slightly tart sour cream paired nicely with the succulent arctic shrimp, with the salmon roe adding a burst of saltiness, which seasoned the dish perfectly. Lovely way to start the meal. 8.5/10
Cup of Clams
Canadian Manila clams, cooked with Thai inspired flavours like basil, lemon grass and chillis. The clams were grit-free, and had a absorbed the seasonings very well, providing both a spicy kick together with the clams’ natural sweet flavours.
I did feel that the clams would be better served on a shallow dish, so the top lying clams could also get bathed in the fragrant broth, and one could dip/savour the broth easily. 8.5/10
Brunch Flap Meat Platter
Charcoal-grilled Australian Wagyu Flap Meat, served with ‘green’ bearnaise sauce and mixed greens.
The beef quality was good, juicy and succulent with a slight smokey flavour on the exterior, and tender pink meat. I wasn’t convinced that it was a wagyu beef though, given it’s lean-ness, I thought it was probably a M3. Good quality beef.
While I thought that the sauce was neither required nor noteworthy, the house-made chips that accompanied the steak were crisp on the outside and fluffy within — very nice. 8.5/10
The Nest Nordic Benedict
This was as you may expect, The Nest’s take on eggs benedict.
Instead of a poached egg, they featured a 65 degree sous vide egg, which usually meant no runny yolks, but instead a semi solid egg yolk. House ‘cold-smoked’ Norwegian salmon was the meat of choice, with a dill infused hollandaise sauce.
We thought that the presentation of this dish was a little sloppy, with a side of the hollandaise sauce drooling off one side of the plate. The small plate was overcrowded with too many things, making it difficult to handle the components without making a mess.
The hollandaise tasted de rigeur, if not a little bit thick.
All in all, not the prettiest nor tastiest eggs benedict around, but certainly a fair attempt. 7/10
Crispy peppery fries topped with a rich oxtail stew, melted aged cheddar, crispy onions and vinegar gravy.
The clever punny name of the dish got my attention, but to be honest, they had me at poutine.
The dish came in a small serving dish, with the fries hidden at the bottom, piled upon with melted cheddar, chunks of oxtail and lots of crispy shallots.
It tasted like a beef bourguignon with fries, and the vinegar gravy came across more acidic than desired. Overall, I felt that the poutine was neither cheesy nor had enough gravy.
When I think of poutine, I think of fries drowned in gravy and cheese. Fries were house-made though, which is always a big plus. 7.5/10
Grilled Raspberry Glazed Pork Ribs
Slow-smoked Iberico pork spare ribs, glazed with balsamic raspberry sauce and finished on a charcoal grill.
These were served on a wooden board with sweet potato fries.
I thought the ribs looked a little ‘pale’ upon serving. While they were tender and flavourful from a good marinade, I felt they lacked a good consistent glaze with charring. It almost felt like the raspberry bbq sauce was simply brushed on upon serving.
The sweet potato fries, although slightly charred, were quite nice. 7.5/10
‘Baboolyas Kugelis’ Lithuanian Potato Pancakes
Super crisp shredded potato pancackes, topped with bacon bits, sour cream and chives.
This had almost everything I love in a breakfast dish. The rosti/hashbrown was super crisp and thick, and went really well with the salty bacon balanced with the sour cream. Simple, but well executed and highly recommended. 9/10
Icelandic Cod Fishcakes
Biggie’s Icelandic cod, chives, chillis and potato, served with homemade tartar sauce and mixed greens.
This looked like a cute rendition of fish and chips, served in a cup. The presentation was novel, but the fish didn’t have the signature fatty cod flavour that one is accustomed to, but tasted more like a generic white fish, like pollock or sea bass.
Strangely, I have been experiencing this quite a few times in Shanghai now. Perhaps it is a certain variant of Cod that is extra lean?
The batter was light and crispy, which was nice, and paired very nicely with the tartar sauce mix. 8/10
Brioche French toast
Caramelised butter brioche bread, mixed berry blast and Barcardi rum sauce.
The french toast at The Nest is done the hipster way with a caramelised sugar crust.
I was however quite surprised that it came as half a slice of bread, albeit a thick hefty slice.
The crust was evenly caramelised and crisp. Cutting into the toast revealed soft, airy textures. Lovely.
The rum sauce was quite non-existant, which was a shame.
But what really set this apart from many other french toasts was that it was served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream! Finally, a chef who gets it!
This was just about the closest to the Mr and Mrs Bund french toast so far, and I give it a 9.5/10.
As you can imagine, we were rolling out of the doors after our meal.
We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and creativity of the brunch offerings. Sure, there were some hits and misses, but it isn’t often for one to come across a brunch menu that is as diverse as the one at The Nest.