Mr Nice Cafe has been around in the Jing’an district in Shanghai for a couple of years now. It’s core menu served what I would describe as bistro food- pastas, risottos, etc. What really placed Mr Nice Cafe on the foodie radar were their desserts, namely the strawberry napoleon. Looking at most restaurant review platforms, you would see the love for their strawberry napoleon almost cried out in unison by the masses.
Mr Nice Cafe recently opened their second branch smack in Sun Moon Light Mall (SML), one of the biggest food central in Shanghai, and I went to have a look at their new offerings.
Upon entering the unassuming entrance with the iconic logo, I was quite blown away by the decor. It was easily one of the prettiest restaurants in the building, featuring bricked walls with a slight rustic yet modern feel and most importantly of all, very comfortably lit.
I noticed that the menu had been considerably revamped and have a lot more to offer, the fare is still along the lines of bistro-comfort food. I thought the menu did not match the quality of the restaurant (and later I would find out, the dishes too). The menu kinda looked like a cheap Chinese restaurant print-out.
I had a mojito to start the evening, and went with the tenderloin steak at medium, and of course, their signature strawberry napoleon.
Mojito was de rigeur, nothing to shout about. After waiting about 15 minutes, my steak arrived.
It was an actual hefty sized tenderloin cut. Nice. It was also reasonably charred on the outside, another good sign. I did not fancy the plating though. I felt the vegetables were clumsily scattered over the large plate, and the amount of fries seemed lacklustre on the plate. In general, if you are serving a small portion, you should try to arrange it neatly/artistically, so it looks ‘refined’ and hence the small portion being acceptable. If you’re doing an American-style scatter plating, then you would make sure the portion is huge, so the lack of plating is actually appreciated. A little more sauce would have been better too, or served on the side.
On with the cut.
First of all, it was a very competently grilled steak. The flavours from the charring came off nicely and you can see the well-done area is very very thin. The meat was lean and tender, just like a tenderloin should be. However, my medium steak was a little rarer than I had requested for. The sauce was quite lovely and went well with basically everything on the plate, if only there was more of it.
The vegetables were lightly, and perfectly seasoned in that respect. I found the button mushrooms particularly flavourful that evening. The accompanying fries were slightly greasy, but I enjoyed the fact that they were house-made and had quite a nice sweetness in the flavour of the potatoes. Execution of the frying could be improved.
Having said all of that, I felt it was very good value for a decent tenderloin steak at ¥118. 7/10
Next up, the strawberry napoleon. This was easily the most ordered dish of the evening, I was sitting by the dessert kitchen, and I witnessed this going out constantly.
What a beauty. It was a neat little bundle of layers of puff pastry pastry with mascaporne and fresh strawberries, accompanied with a strawberry jam on the side.
Eating it was a little challenging, I ended up pretty much destroying it sideways on the plate, making quite a mess. The flavours of the strawberry and mascaporne melded together like honey on toast, and the pastry provided that additional dimension of texture. What I particularly liked about the strawberry napoleon was that it wasn’t very sweet, which is great for ‘salty-tooth’ people like me, and also allows you to enjoy the pastry with the chunky strawberry jam on the side; Where the fresh strawberries lacked in sweetness, the jam compensated for it and added a full robust strawberry flavour. This dessert definitely lived up to the hype, and was worth every penny at ¥42. 9/10
All in all, I am quite excited that Mr Nice Cafe has opened in SML, because so far there are only a handful of western restaurants here, and most of them served faux western food. The tasting at Mr Nice Cafe has been quite authentic so far, and I’m looking forward to sample more of the menu in the coming days. I will probably bring my camera for some decent photographs for the next review instead of these shoddy iPhone images.