The Catalan-French Connection
In a city that already has its fair share of Iberian hangouts, yet another addition to the list may seem like nothing to shout about – but when the executive chef of El Patio (one of Shanghai’s most famous Spanish restaurants) strikes out on his own, it’s hard not to let out a small squeal of anticipation. Talented, innovative and sickeningly young, Francesc Fernández Almodóvar brings us Samfaina, a ‘resto-gastro bar’ concept that draws on his French training and Catalan roots, set over a gorgeously airy attic space of blond timber, polished concrete, and exposed rafters, with the equally trendy Bar Sifón newly launched downstairs.
Despite this being his first solo venture, Almodóvar has already shown a striking lack of timidity with his ambitious and extensive menu, designed to showcase a combination of delicate preparation skills as well as the raw quality of his ingredients – a case in point being the 10-dish tartare section that ranges from classic beef, to tuna with Joselito ham fat, to marinated duck breast. Or for fuss-free hearty fare that will warm the winter cockles, opt for his 24-hour slow-cooked meat dishes including beef short rib, veal shank, and Iberian pork cheek stew, comfortably paired with both French (Chateau La Jalgue Bordeaux) and Spanish (Teatinos Moscatel Ribera Jucar) wines. Just be sure to book ahead – deprisa, deprisa!