Alan's Bistro [Shanghai]

Casual Eat with Classic French Dishes

Address: #445 Zhongshan East 1st Rd (across from The Peninsula)
Phone number: 63291699
Style: French bistro with decent French classics
Price: 300-400 RMB / person
My ranking: ♥ ♥ ♥ +0.5
Value for money: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Will I visit again: Maybe

For my parents’ 28th marriage anniversary, I decided to book a table at Alan’s Bistro, a new French eatery in town that promises to serve good food without the usual swanky feel of French restaurants. The bund housed only ultra high-end restaurants for years, and now it’s finally warming up to the concept of bistro-style places, well, only if they are opened by world-renowned chefs. Alan’s Bistro is a good example of such. Chef Alan Yu is the Executive Chef at the 8½ Otto e Mezzo and worked at Jean George New York before he decided to open two new French restaurants side by side at the bund, Alan’s Bistro and Le Rivage. Although they are indeed on the bund, they are actually tucked away in the Huang Pu Park, underneath the pedestrian boardwalk along the river. My parents’ first reaction when we found the restaurant was

we are eating at the basement?”

It also didn’t help that the restaurant is hidden behind a row of trees. On the bright side, parking was easy since the park offered free parking for restaurant guests.

The environment of the restaurant is bright, relaxed, and casual.

The ceiling is veiled by what seems like a nest of glitters, resembling a fluffy cloud.

Butterflies and birds are painted onto the faces of the chairs. The rest of the décor is kept simple. Chefs and staff are bustling in the open kitchen, and guests are chattering away. Service is courteous and occasionally humorous, which is good since I’m a little tired of the usual stiffness of the waiters on the bund.

To start off, the Baked Crab Bisque Souffé (68 rmb). I was very impressed! You know how sometimes you order a crab/lobster bisque, and it tastes like they put two small slices of meat inside and watered it down with random broth? Well, the one at Alan’s Bistro actually tastes like real bisque, and they’ve got enough crab meats inside to prove it.

Then, the Escargots Bourgogne with French Herbs (98 rmb). Surprisingly large portion, perfect for sharing. The flavors are pretty strong from the Bourgogne sauce and especially the herbs on top, but I’m not complaining since it’s done well. We didn’t order more Appetizers even though I was dying to try the Beef Tartar and the Foie Gras, but my parents are not big fans of such raw food. Asian stomachs. Don’t ask me why they can eat snails but not raw beef or goose liver.

Next comes the special of the day, Moules in White Sauce. The mussels came without frites (or fries, for those of you who don’t know French). I was a bit disappointed. I’m a fries kind of gal. I order fries everywhere, just ask my friends. Anyway, the dish was not up to standard. The sauce was too diluted, which leaves the moules quite tasteless. And the moules themselves are too soft. I’ve had better in Shanghai. Although I still find the ones in Belgium still the best. And did I mention the fries in Belgium?! Ok, I’ll stop.

Onto the mains, or the “Plats de Resistance” section on the menu. According to some of my previous research, the crowd favorite is the Boston Lobster Burger “à l’Alan” (238 rmb). This isn’t the first time I’ve had a lobster burger in Shanghai or anywhere else in the world, so I might be a harsher critique. I also had higher expectations since it was so many people’s recommended dish. Honestly though, I was not impressed. The bund is forgettable, the flavor is….meh, but the lobster meat is good! It could be done better is all I’m saying. BUT if you are into lobster burgers, this is probably the best one in Shanghai.

Braised New Zealand Venison Hind Shank Ratatouille & Rosemary Jus (298 rmb) comes in a big portion, perfect for sharing between two people. The hind shank is slow-cooked to perfection. The meat comes right off from the bone as you slice, which is always a good sign. The rosemary jus adds the perfect spice to the otherwise heavy dish. Recommended.

My mom struggled between ordering the “Rougie” Duck Confit with Fricassee of Wild Mushrooms, Sauce Bordeaux (168 RMB) and one of the pastas, so she asked for the server’s opinion. He recommended the duck confit, but he warned that we may find the meat dry since the kitchen purposely kept the leaner meat. For the most part, the meat is not too dry. I’ve had wayyyyy drier duck confit in France. This dish is not meant to be impressive or surprising, but it is a classic French dish done right.

Onto desserts…first up, Baked Fondant Au Chocolate With Raspberry Sorbet (68 rmb). Or as we normal people call it, a chocolate lava cake. It took the kitchen a good 20+ minutes to prepare this one, since their first try was burnt. At least I know it is freshly made! I found the shell too thin and the chocolate syrup too light, but I do have a preference for strong-tasting desserts in general. The raspberry sorbet is really yummy though. The sourness balances out the sweetness of the fondant.

Second dessert of the night was the Homemade Ice Cream and Sorbets (45 rmb). It came with raspberry sorbet, chocolate ice-cream, and vanilla ice-cream. Pretty good ice cream, that’s all!

The total of the bill came to around 1500 rmb for the 4 of us, and this is with no alcohol (the no drinking thing runs in the family.) Not too shabby for the quality of the food.

Overall, would I return? I’m not sure. The location is really not the best, and I just don't see myself going there on a legit date. I may go back to have some beef tartar and foie gras before I make a final verdict. Still struggling to find French restaurants in Shanghai that keeps me going back.