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Villandry is a decadent, stuffy and expensive French restaurant nestled within the grandly refurbished Science Hall JE on Nanchang Lu. It fits in elegantly, like the dining room of an archaic five-star hotel.

Accordingly, the place is dripping in staff. We were whisked through the lobby, along the striking garden-facing terrace and seated in barely a heartbeat. All that’s left is to decide through which nostril to pay. Indeed, something must pay for both the rent and Villandry’s Michelin trained chef. The menu is a curious collection of luxurious China-friendly sets, lists of oysters, caviar, fine ham, snow crab legs and cheeses. It sounds stupendous and costs as much, ranging from several hundred to several thousand renminbi.

We kept to the couple of a la carte pages and found a solid but not ground-breaking series of dishes. A rich and creamy chilled pumpkin gazpacho with lumps of crab meat (RMB68) outshone a bland Pistou (vegetable) soup (RMB68). Following suit, a crab meat salad with avocado and caviar (RMB150) proved far more textured and flavorful than a watery lobster terrine with truffle vinaigrette (RMB150).

The day’s special, a swathe of slow roasted beef carved tableside from a wheeled trolley by a beaming chef, proved serenely tender. It’s a little on the sickly side though, topped with a rich gravy and only a garnish-sized sprinkling of vegetables. It dominates alongside a serving of pan-fried sea bream in a clam sauce (RMB280), despite the latter’s more composed flavor.

Moving to the terrace to savor a fresh cheesecake (RMB78) and pineapple mousse with coconut sorbet (RMB78), we were almost a world away from the hectic streets of Shanghai outside.

  • Villandry
  • 021 3126-8801

  • Science Hall JE, 47 Nanchang Lu, (near Yandang Lu) [map]
  • 上海市南昌路47号 (近雁荡路)

  • French
  • ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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