Classic French cuisine with a relaxed but elegant kiss – This is Shanghai

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The place

KISS, a casual yet stylish French restaurant, opened in Taikang Terrace last April with a lot of justified buzz (one of the partners is a well-known media mogul). The venue is split into two, BISOU and BISOU Rouge Cellar, a relaxed wine bar and cellar, located across from each other.

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The space is marked by vaulted ceilings, a subdued and intimate dining room with an airy terrace, comfy leather chairs, and wooden furniture – ultimately resembling a hunting lodge rather than the timeless French bistro it is.

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On the roof of the same building is The Plump Garden, formerly the house of Perch by the nest and beloved Botanik, which is open again for weekend brunch, events, pop-ups and private dinners.

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Despite the classic French menu and extensive wine list, BISOU is laid back, earning its reputation for high value. It’s like dining in your friend’s living room … if your friend had a more than impressive wine cellar and a critically acclaimed chef at their fingertips.

The food

The menu of dishes is designed by the chef / partner Rembrandt Van Der Laan (previously from The crepe shop), drawing on his experience at the Eiffel Tower restaurant and at Alain Ducasse’s 3-star Plaza Athénée.

Seven main courses and about as many starters and sides are scribbled in white letters on a board that is carried to the side of the table for easy ordering. The flavors are so French making it easy to form a cohesive meal, complemented by mostly Old World wines.

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Be part of the Oysterlicious Group (Osteria, Plump Oyster, C Pearl, The Plump Garden), it is expected that the Oysters (49 RMB / one, 199 RMB / six) are of the highest quality. But these New Zealand mollusks are a cut above that, each sip as if dropped by an ocean wave. The addition of lemon and red wine vinegar transforms the wedding ring into a true threesome, thus giving these treasures of the sea their well-deserved reputation as aphrodisiac.

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By using a leaner cut of beef, the true flavor of the roughly cut meat comes through in the Beef Tartare (RMB118) without being burdened with the extra fat. Dots of fresh pesto, tangy homemade ketchup, and shmears of cocktail sauce decorate the plate, along with a royal tangle of wreath-shaped fried potatoes. Mixing everything with homemade mayonnaise, mustard and raw onions, this unmistakably French tartare honors this perfectly delicious meat.

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Under swirls of melting butter, the Wagyu M6 Beef Flank Steak (228RMB) it’s 180 grams of pure succulence. Known in the United States as flank steak, this flat cut of meat comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow, with very fine intramuscular fat, which makes it prone to overcooking.

But Chef Rembi quickly sears it over ultra-high heat for a perfectly medium rare steak that’s nicely pink, except around the edges, which are charred with a crisp, salt-speckled crust. The buttery caramelized onions are contrasted by a quenelle of spicy stone-ground mustard and a tight reduction of a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. There is just a lot to like here.

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The scratched skin of the Duck Breast (RMB138) crunches like crackling pork with each bite, a welcome juxtaposition of texture between the soft pink duck meat. A creamy morel sauce brings an earthy aroma to balance the natural sweetness of the meat.

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Like the silk scarf slung over the shoulder of a Parisian, the parchment paper swaddles the 300 grams of Baked Halibut (RMB148), falling just in the right spot to create an extra layer of char. Painted with clean, concentrated pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes, the resulting sweet flavors enhance the delicate nature of this typically mundane fish, while being bold enough to make every bite memorable even the next day.

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The happiness of comfort food is a hot bowl of Beef Cheek Pasta (RMB98). Perfectly al dente homemade pappardelle noodles surround slowly braised chunks of beef cheek dipped in thick tomato paste. A stave of Parmesan shavings serves as the perimeter, but quickly melts into an extra layer of creamy sweetness.

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The only misstep of the meal came in the form of Cauliflower gratin (48 RMB). When cooked with béchamel and cheese, this gooey alternative to scalloped potatoes commands the opposite with a skillful hand when it comes to seasoning. But if a lack of salt on a particular side dish is the most glaring mistake of an entire meal, there’s a 10/10 chance we’ll come back as soon as our stomachs finish digesting.

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Dessert covers the usual suspects – Creme Brulee (48 RMB), Chocolate mousse (RMB58) and – our recommended selection – Mom’s tiramisu (58 RMB). Made according to the chef’s mum’s secret recipe, the unpretentious pot reveals a skilfully balanced version of this typically Italian dessert from the first scoop. The cakey lady’s fingers dipped in strong coffee are interspersed with thick, cold layers of slightly sweet mascarpone cream, a delicate balance of flavors that goes out of order so easily, but reaches all brands at BISOU.

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Wines by the glass start at 48 RMB, with house wine options changing every two months. Each week, around ten wines are selected and presented as wines of the week, showcasing the wide range of more than 100 unique labels on offer. If your wine knowledge is minimal, all of the waiters are well trained to make a suggestion to you based on your budget. Bottles are between 250 and 1,600 RMB, with the most common price being around 300 to 400 RMB each.

The atmosphere

By swapping a four-string quartet for French pop ballads, you’ll find yourself singing songs you recognize, albeit in the “language of love”. Test your French language skills even further by choosing a wine from the cellar, or ask for a recommendation from the friendly and attentive waiters – all part of the relaxed “just hanging out at a friend’s” atmosphere.

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We suggest you grab the eye-catching bottle, position yourself on the sun terrace with a plate of oysters, and get ready for the most luxurious “stay in the night” yet.

Price: RMB300-400
Who go: All those who work in the wine industry, lovers of Old World wines, French food addicts
Good for: Unpretentious get-together evenings, classic French cuisine, satisfaction of oyster cravings


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BISOU and The Plump Garden are co-organizing the Plump Food & Drink Festival on Saturday July 10. Four floors of food and drink at Taikang Terrace, featuring some of the city’s top chefs, bartenders, and brands. The lineup includes chefs Rembrandt Van Der Laan (BISOU), Sean Jorgensen (The Cannery), Simon Sunwoo (Liquid Laundry) and Carlos Sotomayor, as well as Swirlz ice cream, Korean KKD fried chicken, tiki cocktails, Bai8 Baijiu, Beast of the East, La Crêperie, CITA Session Lager, Baladin Nazionale Beer and more. Free entry, 100 RMB for six meal and drink tickets. There is a children’s playground and the place accepts dogs.


See a listing for BISOU. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]


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