Imaginative and visually-stunning dishes at a sleek, modern 5-star hotel in Pudong.
Part of the Summit Hotels & Resorts Group, the Parkyard Hotel Shanghai has stylishly modern accommodation and premium, world class dining. Owned by HTC real estate company, the Parkyard graces Shanghai with its 300 rooms mostly occupied by business executives from nearby offices in Zhang Jiang High Technology Park. Guests can enjoy drinks from the lobby lounge, tasty cakes and bread from the bakery, and Western and Asian cuisine from the Woodside Restaurant. Little did I expect to find such exquisite food at the hotel's all-day, full service restaurant! Executive Chef David Marteau brings his culinary expertise and international experience to the kitchen and creates imaginative and visually-stunning dishes.
Every customer who eats at Woodside receives a complimentary “amuse-bouche”, a welcome appetizer. Today, it was gazpacho with smoked salmon. The gazpacho, or traditional cold Spanish soup, was spicy, sweet and refreshing next to the smooth smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese. To start, I ordered the Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Zucchini Terrine (RMB 78), one of the menu's vegetarian dishes. The decent portion of warm, creamy cheese was wrapped in long slices of yellow squash and soft green zucchini with pureed sweet red bell peppers. Our second appetizer was the Seared Scallops and Layered Eggplant with Warm Chopped Seafood Vinaigrette (RMB 78). The seafood vinaigrette was purely original: mussel, squid, and clams were minced finely to look like garlic and boosted the seafood content of the dish. The scallops were tender, succulent, and phenomenal with the grilled eggplant and fresh tomatoes. To mix and balance all flavors, the dish was served with thin biscotti to give you a bite of something sweet.
The Mixed Seafood Risotto tossed in lobster bisque with sundried tomato bruschetta (RMB 108) is the best-selling dish on the menu. One taste and I immediately saw why: the rice is incredibly flavorsome because it's simmered in rich lobster bisque. Chef David gives volume to the food by inserting a shrimp, a mussel, and a scallop into the rice and then drizzling bright green coriander sauce for some contrast in color.
The Salmon Steak with Salmon Mousse and rosemary biscotti is another signature dish with a 3-D, "wow" factor. A long sprig of fresh rosemary decorated a big piece of salmon, then the rosemary biscotti, and then the salmon mousse on top of it all. Minced salmon and onion were formed into a ball with egg whites and resembled a flaky, springy meatball. The homemade rosemary biscotti again mixed in a bite of sweetness and the beef stock and red wine reduction added a richness that only red meat can deliver. A side of simple roasted vegetables completed this wholesome dish.
Being the global chef that he is, Chef David fuses his French roots with his experience in Canada as well as China. His love of cooking and traveling is displayed in his very own cookbook and many of the items on the menu. The signature Lavender Crème Brulée with Fresh Fruit Salad and Frozen Yogurt (RMB 58) is a decadent way to end a meal. It fuses two traditional French things, lavender and crème brulée, to create a wildly inventive dessert. I had never eaten lavender before, and from the very first bite of the crème, I could taste the familiar aroma. Again, going along with a theme of balancing flavors, the light frozen yogurt, fresh fruit salad and sprig of mint were the perfect counterparts to the rich and completely satisfying crème brulée.
To my surprise, the dinner crowd is quite small compared to the crowd that the Parkyard gets at lunch or breakfast. The food and beverage department keeps busy with weddings, business banquets and other events that take place out in the garden or in the banquet hall which can seat up to 200 people. Furthermore, the Parkyard offers an outside catering service, giving Puxi-dwellers and nearby organizations a chance to try the chef's creations. This time, I only tasted the Western menu, so I will have to make another trip out there to try the rest!
-- by Karol Ng