Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire Welcomes New Chef Ramses Navarro

By Sophie Steiner, May 11, 2024

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Celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire, a Frenchman studded with 14 Michelin stars at time of writing, opened his first Chinese mainland restaurant inside the Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li estate in 2017. Befitting of its stately surrounds, the restaurant 'Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire' – which broadly translates to 'Pierre Gagnaire's Bar’ – is a super casual, soup and sandwich sort of place, as you can imagine.


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image courtesy of Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire

70 seats. A menu filled with contemporary French luxury.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Caviar, oysters, hulking steaks swaddled in buttery beurre blanc sauce, and supple de-boned frog legs made easier to consume for manicured fingers without the hassle of extracting meat from bone! Ah, how the other half live.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chef Ramses NavarroImage courtesy of Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire

Though the menu was originally designed by Gagnaire himself, in the kitchen now is up-and-coming executive chef Ramses Navarro. Hailing from Mexico, Navarro attended culinary school in France and then worked there for a decade – at Michelin star Le Moulin de LAbbaye in Périgord as executive chef and alongside Pierre Gagnaire himself in his three Michelin star restaurant in Paris. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Navarro is an artist at heart, conceptualizing his dishes through drawing and bringing his ideas to life – from pen and paper to the artistry that arrives tableside on the plate. 

Said artistry weaves its way through the 3-Course Lunch Menu (RMB488), a starter, main, and dessert plus a coffee or tea, available daily until 3pm.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Starters include Broccoli Soup, poured as a moat surrounding a water chestnut, fresh strawberry and green pea salad. Sheathed by a vegetable stock jelly, lemon-laced Normandy cheese dots further augment the soup’s velvety mouthfeel. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

An ode to Shanghainese flavors, Roche Prawns – prized for their thin skin and meatier makeup – are tossed in a smarmy beurre blanc crowning turmeric sticky rice.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Prawns in a second form are swimming in a lime leaf prawn emulsion alongside cauliflower, fava beans and aloe vera, the optimal balance of sweet umami. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Onto the mains, thick stacked slabs of Roasted Iberico Pork Loin are seasoned with herbs de Provence, crowned with a pan-fried mushroom fricassee. Flanked by a golden thread mushroom-topped creamy roasted sweet potato mash, braised pork belly is dribbled with a mango peel and coriander seed jus. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Vibrantly ruby-hued beetroot and beef jus reduction pools around succulent M5 Wagyu Beef Flap (RMB388 supplement) dusted with pink peppercorns, contributing both savory and earthy undertones to this bovine course.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Lunch desserts range from Rice Pudding – a lasagna-like layering of crunchy meringue, salted caramel drizzle, a scoop of lemon sorbet, a tuft rice foam, and a Buddha’s hand veil, all encircled by a mandarin sauce…

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...to a Muscovado Biscuit tart piped with 67% chocolate ganache, milk jam, yogurt ice cream and soft vanilla panna cotta, crispy shards of chocolate imparting a textural crunch. 

In addition to the lunch set, a hefty lineup of à la carte options – available at both lunch and dinner – offer classically French fare, many of which have remained on the menu since opening, and for good reason. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Namely, the Casserole of Poulette-style Frogs (RMB239) à la Provençale is a ceramic pot filled to the brim with de-boned frog legs, fried in a buttery herb sauce with Italian vermouth. A lush mushroom gravy anchors the tender meat morsels to the plate, adorned with a fresh watercress salad. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Cooked in papillote, the Sea Bass Steak (RMB429) is capped with a blend of red bell peppers and anchovies before being wrapped in baking parchment and roasted over Shanghainese bok choy. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The resulting fish flakes away with the mere nudge of a fork, supplemented by alternating splotches of olive tapenade and preserved lemon that lend a balancing briny salinity and a bitter sour pop, respectively. 

DSC03985.jpgBlue Lobster Salad (RMB369) – Fresh coriander, lime, olive oil, bamboo, mango. Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Dinner sees a six-course Menu Esprit Pierre Gagnaire (RMB988) with an optional six glass Wine Pairing (RMB2,088) spanning traditionally French plates like Blue Lobster Fricassee, Hainan Grouper Ballotine, M9 Mayura Wagyu Beef Heart Filet, and more.

Image courtesy of Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The ambiance of Le Comptoir features tasteful neutral tones and restrained design decisions, with the backdrop of sultry jazz renditions of Top 50 tunes. There are none of the ostentatiously flashy chandeliers or gleaming marble floors that characterize luxury in Shanghai; in fact the place feels more like a living room than celebrity chef temple.

Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, 480 Jianguo Xi Lu, by Yueyang Lu, 建国西路480号, 近岳阳路.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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