Restaurant & Wine Review: The Nest in Shanghai

by Ian D’Agata

The Nest

6/F, 130 Beijing Dong Lu,
near Huqiu Lu

Huangpu District

Shanghai, China

Tel. +86 2163087669

The dishes

Oysters (lemon, shallot vinaigrette, ginger ponzu)

Sweet shrimp (pickled cucumber, dill, sour cream)

Venison tartare (with pickled cranberries, juniper berries)

Sharing Meat Platter (Wagyu M5 filet)

Rice pudding with fresh berries

The wines

Henri Bourgeois 2022 Pouilly-Fumé                             89

Burn Cottage 2021 Pinot Noir Moonlight Race Central Otago              91

The Nest in Shanghai is one of the most beautiful, relaxing and best multi-concept dining spots I have been to anywhere in the world. A composite of restaurant, lounge, bar and night club, it seats roughly 200 people and despite that size does everything right in ways that similar dining spaces all over the world usually fail miserably at. These other spots fail for always the same reasons: because the food isn’t really that good; or because the wine list is poor, either because out of a misguided desire to be (tragically) hip offering only stinky natural wines or because the wines are unacceptably super-expensive; other times it is because of the ambient noise, a din so loud that you can’t even hear what your dining companions are saying; or it’s the lighting that is crazy, so low that you can’t see who it is you have in front of you (or your food, for that matter); it might the service that leaves a lot to be desired; and still other causes that will have you wishing you had gone somewhere else to spend your evening. Not so at The Nest, which gets all of the above right, and then some.

Part of the Muse group dining empire with a tie in to Grey Goose vodka (and hence the nordic theme of many of the restaurant’s dishes), The Nest is located on the top (sixth floor) of a building situated in Shanghai’s super-chic downtown near the Huangpu River and the gorgeous Bund district, not far from the Peninsula hotel and the Rockbund Art Museum. And while the building has undoubtedly seen slightly better days at its entrance and on the lower floors, it offers incomparably great views of the Shanghai rooftops and skyline all around. The fact there are very comfortable sofas and armchairs on pretty terraces and balconies at basically 360 degrees around the main dining room only adds to The Nest’s beauty and charm. The posh cocktail bar (not surprisingly, it specializes in vodka-based creations) is just dandy, really one of the more beautiful imbibing areas anywhere in Shanghai. Happily, this is no smallish, cramped speakeasy type dark room that answers to modernly fashionable but oh-so-boring (and uncomfortable) aesthetics; rather it’s reasonably well-lit, smartly designed and very refined. A nice touch are the quieter areas removed off to the side on smaller balcony areas behind glass doors where you can drink to your heart’s content but also smoke a cigar without bothering anyone else.

All that being true, it’s the main dining lounge area that is the main draw: quite simply, wine and food are spot on. No, this is not gourmet cooking that will be earning any stars soon or have you swooning over unforgettable food memories being made; but the menu is large enough to offer choices that will please just about anybody, and everything is extremely satisfactory, well-cooked, and tasty. On Sundays, there is one of the more enjoyable brunches available anywhere in the city: even better, it is very reasonably priced.

The food at The Nest has been thought out so it could match well with cocktails, not just wine, so you have many different drinks choices at your fingertips. And despite the tie in to Grey Goose, not just that brand in distilled spirits is served. Oysters and steaks are clearcut winners at The Nest, but everything from the venison carpaccio, to the salmon lox platter to the lamb stew to the inky fried calamari and the grilled mushrooms are just right. And if you want something simpler, be aware they serve one of the best fish and chips in town.

On this night the venison carpaccio, loaded with other ingredients had me worried that it might not taste much of venison, of meat even; but that was not at all the case, and the gamey but refined taste of the deer came through in spades. I mean, if you want venison, the thing shouldn’t taste like veal or pork, correct? The fried calamari were excellent, deposited on your table impaled on a pole in a highly decorative manner but one that is also very effective: just slide one squid after another off the pole just like you do with meat on a shiskabob. Our M5 Wagyu was tasty and flavourful, not to mention cooked to perfection: and while the mushrooms were also pleasantly chewy and rich in savouriness, the shoe-string fries were not good. On the coldish and limp side, this was just about the only food faux pas on the night, albeit a fairly serious one. The rice pudding however was excellent.

Recently I learned that the Muse restaurant group had made some changes to its wine service, such as removing a long-time really excellent wine sommelier who oversaw the group’s wine lists. Worried that things were being turned down a notch, I wanted to see for myself how things were going. For the time being, I am happy to report that the wine list is more or less as I remembered it. Which is a good thing, for if the place only sold cocktails or a handful of cheap wines from the usual Chilean and Australian suspects, my wine-loving friends and I wouldn’t be coming to The Nest.

The wines at The Nest run from the inexpensive to reasonable for the name tag attached (face it: the days of finding grand cru Burgundies in a restaurant at $200 are long gone). There are no ridiculously priced trophy wines that are unjustifiably priced into the greed stratosphere. On this night, we had a simple easy-going Henri Bourgeois 2022 Pouilly-Fumé that was nicely lemony and grassy and served us well as an aperitif and with the fried calamari. It’s not especially complex but it serves its purpose as an uncomplicated and inexpensive white wine well, and has more concentration than is readily apparent. With the rest of our meal (venison, mushrooms, grilled steak) we opted for the Burn Cottage 2021 Pinot Noir Moonlight Race Central Otago, a very juicy, easygoing, fruity and nicely creamy yet vibrant Pinot Noir that paired effortlessly with all of our dishes. Both wines were highly enjoyable and added another dimension to the food, and neither one cost us an arm and a leg.

This was another nice night out at The Nest, even though the place was not quite on top of its game this time around (certainly the fries were not those of an establishment worth recommending, and one wine we had chosen, as well as one Scotch Whisky we wanted a glass of, were not available: how the wine and spirits list shape out in the future will need to be followed), but overall things went smoothly and my guests enjoyed their time there. So I’d say that as far as nests go that one might want to make him or herself at home in, Shanghai’s The Nest is still a place worth nesting in for lunch or dinner.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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