On paper, Table d’Hôte, Mr & Mrs Bund’s new “social table” concept, sounds a little like those supper clubs that have been picking up steam over the past few years. Yet our evening flowed on with less self-consciousness than supper clubs often carried. Everything felt so nonchalant and familiar that when our hosts, at one point, described it as “grandmother’s table,” it didn’t feel far off the mark — that is, if our grandmothers could manage the level of exquisite precision that Mr. Paul Pairet’s kitchen turns out on a daily basis.
There is no other restaurant in the world that I know as intimately as Taian Table. From that first encounter in 2016, two months into the restaurant’s life, through dozens of visits stretching over the next three years, Taian Table steadily grew to be my favorite restaurant in Shanghai. And if the past, entirely unexpected 17 months of working with the team have changed my view in any way, it is only to offer new perspectives and insights into this restaurant that I have loved from the first.
There is something endearing about chef Michael Wilson’s unassuming yet sophisticated approach to French fine dining. Across months, then years, my visits bore witness to the burgeoning consistency and confidence, insight and intuition in Mr. Wilson’s dishes, displayed with an understated flair not often found at hotel restaurants. So his recent foray into tasting menus feels very much like a logical and natural next step.
In a way that few restaurants do, The Pine draws me in from many directions: impeccable techniques, poised eloquence, a simple, earnest desire to please, and an acute perceptiveness into the local palate, expressed with a coherence and congruity that can elude many chefs, let alone one who moved to Shanghai barely 6 months ago.