Add: 2/F 322 Anfu Road, Shanghai 安福路322号2楼
Tel: +86 (21) 6266 7909
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm-late, Sat-Sun 11:00am-late
Visited: June 2019
Many would remember Pelikan on Xikang Lu for its psychedelic wallpapers brimming with tropical motifs, an extreme and somewhat bemusing contrast with the restaurant’s Nordic-inspired brand of cooking. Since the location was repurposed by the group for office space a few months ago, the Pelikan team has relocated to Anfu Lu, and restyled the restaurant as BOR Eatery. Perched above the new Funk & Kale, the second-story dining room looks decidedly more Nordic than Pelikan’s, even as the kitchen moves away from its former Scandinavian bent.
For one thing, the plates flying out of BOR’s open kitchen have mostly forgone the hide-and-seek aesthetic that is often seen as a hallmark of Nordic cuisine. Most of their components are now displayed in plain sight, yet even with everything laid out, the effects can still take you by surprise.
Take the grilled sardines, a guileless assembly of slightly wrinkled fish sprawled over blotches of almond parsley cream. The herby, lemony dressing acts as a mellowing agent to the sardines’ salty punch, as one might expect; but you might not expect how it manages to enliven the whole plate at the same time, so that all the flavors seem to light up from the inside.
Grilled sardine with almonds, parsley, lemon (68)
Tender stems of grilled baby corn, sheathed in their charred husks, find an engaging companion in a velvety dip of corn and brown butter that is cleverly augmented by crunchy toasted buckwheat. Warm sourdough rolls fresh from the oven are made irresistible by a dish of creamy, semi-melted butter.
Grilled baby corn brown butter and corn dip, buckwheat (32)
Sourdough & salted butter (30)
Set beside some grilled shrimps is a fiery chili dip that could probably use less chili heat and more acidity. On the other hand, a piece of charcoal grilled steak is notable less for the meat itself, and more for the way it acts as a steady conduit for a softly rounded jus and an airy hollandaise that takes the place of béarnaise.
Grilled shrimps with red chili dip (78)
Charcoal grilled oyster-blade beef with asparagus, brown butter hollandaise, black pepper glaze (238)
A fine appetizer is built around chicken liver mousse, which doesn’t stray far from the usual garnishes, but still manages to go a few places others don’t. The light, earthy liver with a flicker of alcoholic tang, the soft juiciness of fresh figs and the deeper sweetness of dried ones, the crisp darkness of toasted rye and the crown of peppery rocket leaves (alright, there is a little bit of hide-and-seek here) all come together in exquisite synergy.
Chicken liver mousse, fresh & dried figs, arugula, rye (75)
The level of Nordic cadence in these dishes range from discreet to nonexistent, and that is a conscious decision by the chef, Mr. Kasper Pedersen, who hails from Denmark. It can probably be seen as a sign of evolution that by taking a step back from obvious references to his heritage, he is able to create a menu that feels more intimate and approachable than ever.
The only place on the menu that points directly to Scandinavia is the Danish hot dog, which is apparently the first thing Mr. Pedersen goes for every time he lands in Copenhagen. The nostalgia might be lost on the average diner, but the carefree indulgence won’t be: its soft bun and salty sausage, the sharp zip of mustard and bright flick of ketchup, the soft acidity of pickles and mild burn of onions join forces in an unmistakable nod to the powers of pure, primal enjoyment.
Mini Danish hotdog topped with mustard, ketchup, pickled aioli, pickles, fried onion, raw onion (58)
A more implicit hat tip to Danish flavors can be found in the intelligent flourishes of pickled mustard seeds that Mr. Pedersen employs as liberally as punctuation marks. They pop and crunch within a beef tartare, softened by a fugitive tomato sweetness, allowing the clean taste of beef to emerge from in between like a train out of the darkness; they lift up a hunk of barbecued pork ribs, which have been smoked for four days and braised for another six, turning the meat obligingly soft and tender.
Beef tartare with mustard, tomato, fresh herbs, sourdough (80)
BBQ smoked pork ribs with sour apple, mustard seeds, shallots (160)
They show up again in a sweet, tangy mustard dressing that accompanies a gleaming length of salmon. After spending two days curing in sugar and salt, the salmon is hot smoked to order, so that its aroma reaches us even before the plate hits the table. The color melts like twilight, from pale pink close to the skin, all the way to a rich, glistening orange; the flesh dissolves sensually across the tongue in ebbs and flows of delicate sweetness and savory depth, underscored by tangy mustard and crunchy pickled shallot. But the kitchen might have had too much time to think before it put the grilled dumpling wrappers on the plate, which, though perfectly serviceable vessels, add very little except a toughness that the salmon doesn’t need.
Hot smoked salmon with sweet mustard, dill, pickles, grilled jiao zi pi (188)
Walking in at half past six on a weeknight to find a bustling dining room filled to the brim, one might forget that BOR Eatery is not even a month old. But we might be reminded of that fact when a couple of dishes miss their mark. A medley of scallops, grapefruit, hazelnuts, and salted caramel falls a bit short—not very short, but enough that my friends and I took notice. A piece of nicely fried halibut and some fresh sweet peas find their point of view muddled by a few mussels, a heavy dose of bacon, and palm-sized sheets of butterhead lettuce; then everything gets their lights punched out by a deluge of smoked butter sauce.
Fried scallops with grapefruit, hazelnut, salted caramel (90)
Fried halibut with bacon, green peas, smoked butter sauce, thyme, butterhead lettuce, blue mussels (110)
The salty and bitter combination of grilled radicchio, burrata, Serrano ham, and toasted buckwheat tasted like a polite disagreement to me, although some of my friends quite enjoyed the exchange. But we all struggled to like the broccolini salad, which was dragged down by half an avocado and a dressing of garlic cream; I didn’t know that raw broccolini could taste so oppressively rich.
Grilled radicchio with burrata cheese, olive paste, toasted buckwheat, Serrano ham (148)
Raw broccolini salad with avocado, spinach, garlic dressing (58)
However, some of Mr. Pedersen’s vegetables know precisely what they are meant to do. Caramelized onions see their sweet, deep flavors modified with fresh pear and pungent stilton; , while an unassuming bowl of romaine gets an unexpected punch from its anchovy dressing. Even alongside mains as striking as the hot smoked salmon, these sides can hold their own.
Caramelized onions with blue stilton, pear (48)
Romaine salad with black sesame, salted anchovy dressing (38)
The highlight of my first visit came, unexpectedly, in a side dish that never learned the meaning of modesty: soft gnocchi were buried beneath a soaring hollandaise that flashed across the tongue in an exhilarating bolt of acidity, followed by a gust of garlic shoot radiance; this plate demanded that we sit up and take notice. Yet on a second visit, the fluffy hollandaise had been replaced by a cream sauce, and the acidity had vanished almost entirely—and with it, the force of personality that drew us to the dish. It might still have been a fine dish of gnocchi if I didn’t know what greatness it could reach.
Gnocchi with onion cream, garlic salsa verde, dried & smoked duck shavings – first visit (65)
Gnocchi with onion cream, garlic salsa verde, dried & smoked duck shavings – second visit (65)
One thing that hasn’t changed from Mr. Pedersen’s Pelikan days is that his desserts still appear averse to flour. Yet his mousses, sorbets, and ice creams are so unfailingly eloquent that I can’t bring myself to mind. There is a plate of honey ice cream and soft milk jelly that crunches and crumbles with smashed honeycomb. A darkly fascinating chocolate sorbet with an alluringly bitter edge is mellowed by a slightly sweeter chocolate mousse that is intoxicating in its smooth decadence.
Honeycomb smash with honey ice cream, milk jelly (60)
Chocolate mousse with chocolate sorbet, dark chocolate (60)
The single spoonful of velvety, intensely tangy raspberry sorbet that I had on my first visit struck me as slightly one-tone and unexciting, but it grew on me the second time, when I rediscovered the freeze-dried raspberry and pine nut oil that expertly blurred the line between sweet and savory. A nutty hazelnut ice cream, on the other hand, became an instant hit, set amongst distinct, elegant layers of light caramel, gentle coffee, and a hint of chocolate sweetness. Between me and my friend, the entire bowl vanished in ten seconds flat.
Salted raspberry sorbet with pine nut oil (50)
Hazelnut ice cream with espresso, peanuts, baked white chocolate, salted caramel (65)