The restaurant industry in Shanghai is absolutely insane because the turnover is so high. While it’s sad to see some of my favorites go, it is exciting hearing the buzz about new places like Cuivre on 1502 Huai Hai Zhong Lu (淮海中路1502号). The restaurant has only been open for about a year, but they just won Best Restaurant of the Year and Best Newcomer according to popular Shanghai magazine, City Weekend. Cuivre, which means “copper” in French, serves Southern French cuisine courtesy of Michael Wendling who used to be the executive chef at Allure at Le Royal Meridien in Shanghai.
I went to Cuivre twice (once with my friend and once with my mother) and I loved being able to practice French with the owner and staff. The menu is small (but on iPads), but I was told they generally change one to two dishes every three weeks or so. When you go, you must order the terrine de foie gras, which is served with cherries and cute little toast pieces. The foie gras was incredibly smooth and rich (perfect with a glass of red wine). I also tried the white asparagus, which is grilled, and served with hollandaise sauce, a poached egg, ham and a little bit of cheese. The asparagus was tender and I liked how it was paired with the saltier meat.
For the main dishes, I got to try the lobster risotto, pork chop and flank steak. The lobster was flown in from Boston and cooked perfectly. The risotto was incredibly rich and heavy (and slightly salty) and while I could eat a few bites, I would not have been able to eat the entire plate. The flank steak was served with a flavorful sauce and I loved the caramelized onions that had been cooked down and reduced in red wine. The meat wasn’t as tender as I was hoping (then again, when is flank steak really ever all that tender), but the accompanying fries made up for it.
The pork chop was my absolute favorite and I think one of the best pork chops I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I think it even rivals nopa’s grilled country pork chop in San Francisco. First of all, the pork chop was huge and could have fed two people. I definitely could only eat half, especially after stuffing my face with foie gras. There was so much marbling in the meat that it was so juicy and tender– almost melting in my mouth. I was honestly shocked how tender the meat was despite how big the pork chop was. I would gladly go back to Cuivre any night to eat their “le cochon noir.”
The first time at Cuivre, I got so full that I couldn’t eat dessert. Lesson learned. I saved room the second time with my mother. We ordered “le crumble,” which was an apple and cherry crumble served warm with ice cream on top. I liked that the dessert wasn’t too sweet or overwhelming. Plus, how can you go wrong with anything served à la mode?
I’m definitely a huge fan of Cuivre and I hope it’s one of the great restaurants that has some “staying” power in Shanghai (i.e., I hope it’s still open the next time I come to Shanghai). It’s definitely pricier for a restaurant in China with main dishes costing $25+ (the lobster risotto was around $40) and desserts costing around $10. But with the portions being so big, you can definitely split dishes and even out the cost.