Second Helping: elEfante
What: Mediterranean-style fare from the El Willy Group
Where: 20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu. Tel: 5404 8085
Why: To sample the new summer specials from Chef Carlos Sotomayor
Although a solid choice all year round, this restaurant really comes into its own during the summer months, when guests can sit leisurely in the large terrace area, whilst sipping on wine and grazing on tapas. Peruvian Chef Sotomayor has well and truly put his stamp on this tapas joint, and with his new menu, known as elEfante Menu Number Nine, he has injected a little bit more South American panache to the Mediterranean vibe.
The Peruvian inspired mixed seafood ceviche (RMB 75) is a perfect example of this marriage of flavours, with its rich, tart and slightly spicy, citrus marinade. The ceviche comes brimming with fresh, cured octopus, shrimp, scallops and seabass.
Other highlights on the menu are the more typical El Willy-style “gin and tonic” cured salmon explosion (RMB 82), with spicy onion relish and avocado bursting out of each bite – in the same vein as El Willy’s exploding Baltic salmon. The baby sardines (RMB 82), with tomato concassé, basil, aged balsamic and Iberian ham lardo; seared foie gras (RMB 98), with apple and ginger tarte Tatin, pistachio and five-spice jus; and house suckling pig (RMB 90) were also welcomed additions to the table.
You can’t go to elEfante and not order paella, and the Boston lobster dry paella (RMB 498) is the most extravagant and satisfying of the lot, from seeing the lobster tableside before cooking, to the excitement of the cracked claws and body piled high atop the rice afterwards.
Finish you meal with a “Sexy Napoleon” (RMB 72), because no meal is complete at an El Willy Group restaurant without something “sexy”. This, somewhat healthy, dessert includes seasonal fruits, mango mousse and sour cream ice cream.
Two sharing style menus available, priced at RMB 249 or RMB 349 per person, which we think are incredibly good value for money. See you on the terrace.