The Purple Onion [Shanghai] – closed

Where did the Thirsty Pig Go?
The Purple Onion, part of famed Shanghai restauranteur David Laris empire, nice little European bistro. Though it is tucked away in a small alley, it is still conveniently located in the heart of the Shanghai French Concession. I thought we made a wrong turn somewhere, as we continued down the dark small alley of Shanghai old houses. Opened just a year ago, the Purple Onion is a favorite among my friends. Immediately as we walked in, I could see why this quaint little restaurant has regulars. The spacious outdoor al fresco area looked inviting, for the pleasant weather months, but not on this December night. The main dining area, with barely 10 tables, allows for intimate dining. Good for small groups and dates.

What did the Thirsty Pig Eat?
We decided on the Christmas menu, since we were in the mood. If you choose a starter, a main, and dessert the combination is 300 RMB. Unfortunately, they were out of the their chestnut and truffle soup, but they had their regular Artichoke Soup – which was pretty good. But I have say, I kinda like the sound of the chestnut and truffle for a soup. We also had the Soft Boiled Duck Egg, with Pancetta and Mustard Fruits for 78 RMB. I liked this salad – for the runny yolk and crunchy pancetta. Next up were the mains, the Roasted Pork, Stuffed with Apricots and Pistachios served with Parsnip Puree and Fennel for 168 RMB and Roasted Turkey stuffed with Prunes and Armagnac served with Caramelised Witlof for 168 RMB. I wasn’t sure what Witlof was, but I now know that I like it. The turkey and pork, both are notoriously dry, and unfortunately, Purple Onion’s was a bit dry as well. But I think they understood this and made sure that the sweet accompanied sauce blended the dryness to produce a nice meld. I was fine with this. I liked the turkey much more than the pork. (And I usually go for pork, regardless of the menu) Lastly, we had the Christmas Mince Pies for 48 RMB and Christmas Pudding with Brandy Cream for 78 RMB. The mince pies were these bite sized baked goodies. But they kind of reminded me of a holiday fruitcake (not a good thing). The Christmas Pudding was really tasty and moist – nice way to finish the meal.

Final Words
Since we tried the Christmas menu, I nary a look at their regular menu. I do intend to return try their regular menu.

What to Order: I have heard their Pizzas as really good
What not to Order:

2 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

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The Purple Onion
No 16, Lane 351 Huashan Lu, near Changshu Lu
+86 21 6248 8747

Le Saleya [Shanghai]

Where Did the Thirsty Pig Go?
We were looking for a French restaurant and I hate to say it. . . it looks as if I settled on Le Saleya. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of trying to find and make reservations for a restaurant on a late Saturday afternoon for that evening. All the usual suspects were fully booked. I wasn’t really surprised. . .since I should have known better. Le Saleya had been mentioned in a conversation I had months ago, but I had never thought about going. But I was pleasantly surprised.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we walked into a dark courtyard. Looks like it would be a festive place when the weather is better, thus making a mental note. As we walked in, we found a loud and unapologetically happy crowd. Its as if we stepped into a friend’s home. The homey interior gives a warm and inviting feel. It just makes you feel comfortable – which is great when its your first time to a restaurant.

What Did the Thirsty Pig Eat?
For our starters we got the Moules (babasses) gratintes – Gratinated Mussels for 88 RMB and the Camembert au miel cuit au four – Baked Camembert Cheese with Honey 88 RMB. The Mussels were big and juicy and not overly salty. The baked camembert was also nice. But I kept thinking it was processed cheese, being the shape looked like it was just unwrapped and warmed up. Regardless – I liked the cheese to Laughing Cow cheese, since it has the same texture.

For our mains, we shared the Lapin Saute a la moutarde – Stew Rabbit with mustard sauce for 168 RMB and the La piece de boeuf grille (200g) dépend a votre serveur- Grilled piece of Beef (200g) ask your waiter for 168 RMB. My friend, Miss Y, expertly with surgeon precision separated the meat for the little bones from the rabbit. It was like a show with her fast skill. The beef, served as medium rare, was tender and juicy – just the way I like it. I enjoyed the beef more than the rabbit.

Last Words
I enjoyed the dining experience at Le Saleya. I would like to return again in the spring for a nice weekend lunch.

What to Order: Beef and Mussels
What not to Order: Rabbit (but if you like the work – to separate the little bones from the meat – by all means, order it)

2 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

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Le Saleya
570 Changle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu
+86 21 5403 6957