Add: 1502 Middle Huai Hai Road, Shanghai 淮海中路1502号
Tel: +86 (21) 6437 4219
Hours: closed Tue; [dinner] Mon, Wed-Sat 18:00-22:30; [brunch] Sat-Sun 12:00-14:00
Price: [dinner] 300-450
Visited: January 2018
Will return: Yes
Please note that this was an arranged tasting.
We could not have picked a better night to visit Cuivre. As Shanghai’s first snow this winter left the whole city in shivering elation, the golden glow spilling from Cuivre’s wide windows beckons us inside with the promise of warmth, comfort, and chef Michael Wendling’s southern French fare.
For nearly 7 years, chef Wendling has been serving a generous repertoire of French comfort food, making Cuivre one of the city’s most long-standing French restaurants. That repertoire was expanded recently to include over a dozen new dishes.
Even the bread was new. The warm focaccia assaulted us with its garlicky, herby fragrance as soon as it was set on the table. The bread was made in-house at their bakery next-door, simply named “Le Pain.” Make sure to pick up some baked goods there after dinner.
In a bright and refreshing start to the meal, the tuna tartare was tinged with a tangy dressing fragrant with ginger and coriander, and piled on a creamy bed of diced avocado. All this was held in a crunchy tapioca taco, and served in a neon pink pelikan just because.
Paleo tartare de thon (148)
A salad of arugula and spinach was laden with streaks of homemade bacon, as well as juicy cherry tomatoes and crunchy slices of radish. The salad itself was slightly overwhelmed by its sweet dressing, but the strip of toast smothered with creamy brûléed goat cheese was one of best things we had that evening.
Salade de chèvre frais (108)
For something heartier, there was an expertly grilled octopus leg that delivered a powerful punch. The smoky flavors were rounded out with an intriguing garlic purée laced with saffron and paprika, and brightened with a salad of fennel and grilled bell peppers.
Equally impressive was the fish soup, served with croutons, aioli, and grated cheese. With a complexity reminiscent of lobster bisque and a lingering herbal fragrance, the bowl had depth and flavor in spades.
Soupe de poissons (128) * Photo credit: Cuivre
Exciting as these new dishes were, some classics just couldn’t be missed. One simply couldn’t visit Cuivre without having the foie gras terrine, marinated with port wine and poached to melting richness. We would have liked the accompanying bread to be a little more toasted, but the chutney alongside it was perfectly addictive with its gentle underpinning of spices.
Terrine de foie gras (148)
The dish of the night came in the form of a decadent mushroom risotto spun through with the heady aroma of truffles. A perfect balance of earthy mushrooms, fragrant truffles, and rich cream, this was rustic simplicity at its best.
Risotto à la truffe (188)
Another dish that had winter comfort written all over it was the salmon confit baked in puff pastry, served in beurre blanc on a bed of ricotta-rich spinach. The idea was promising and the salmon melted seductively on the tongue, but the pastry was a little soggy, so the outcome was not as nice as it could have been.
Le saumon (178)
Other additions to the menu included a seared beef flap served with an intensely garlicky butter and some fantastic fries, and a cod served with clam broth, coriander, basil and fried garlic that was somehow less than interesting despite the abundance of herbs.
Le boeuf (188)
Le cabillaud (158)
The best dessert we had that night was also the least photogenic. In a modern take on a tarte tatin, tender apples were heaped on caramelized French toast and served with caramel and vanilla cream. The plate might look a little rough around the edges, but the depth of flavor was stunning.
Les pommes (68) * Special thanks to Rachel for the photo
The île flottante (i.e. floating island) is another classic, consisting of poached meringue floating on crème anglaise. Our resident Frenchman at the table pronounced it to be “exactly as it should be.” You can’t go wrong with the impressively tall millefeuille or the chocolate fondant either, both of which were well-executed and delicious.
Île flottante (68)
Le fondant (78)
Cuivre’s new additions were remarkably easy to love, the flavors classic but far from boring. Chef Wendling’s brand of generous French comfort would be welcome any time of the year, but it is particularly appreciated on cold winter nights.