Not so Petite… 2/3

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love my life in Shanghai for it is the scene for so many genres: romance, dramas, fictions… from a food perspective of course. If I was to become a writer I would probably be a biographer as the city is populated with amazing characters: Chefs, restaurateurs, venues owners, waitstaff, food critics, wine distributors, famous spirits brand managers, food bloggers, photographers and of course, the biggest group, the one you are certainly part of: food and drinks consumers.

Last week, my agency, SKIN marketing, was signing a new account with Sam Li, a successful private banking consultant, a wealthy, smart and surprisingly shy young shanghai gentleman. The first time I met with him, we were supposed to talk about his restaurant “La Petite Fleur”, located on Anfu Road (Shanghai, PRC), a beautiful little eatery that I already very shortly introduced last month in this blog. Usually, professional restaurateurs like to remind you how many shops they opened manage, consult for… Sam was totally the opposite and wouldn’t show any pride but an authentic interest in the business. I was even more greatly disconcerted when eventually he would mention about these four other restaurants of his… For those who are not in the Food & Beverage industry, to run a restaurant, whatever the size is, is already a tough job, but to operate five of them is calls for my admiration. It took us few minutes to decide to work together and we spent the rest of the conversation talking about… antiques!

At Sam’s restaurants: La Petite Fleur, Le Petit Chateau, Le Jardin Secret, Le Petit Jardin (and a fifth one to open in April on Wukang Road), were all created by the same designer: Dang Dang Li, Sam’s wife.

The five venues are totally unique for Shanghai. The couple seemed to have identified very carefully the locations that would fit their projects – usually an old apartment at the ground floor of a lane house-. Dang Dang would then infuse life into the rooms, guided by an amazing sense of style, her excellent knowledge of the 18th and 19th century European design, and… more eccentrically, her admiration for some Japanese animation movies.

Dang Dang is in her early thirties, a child from Shanghai who traveled all over the world, lived in Canada and worked in Japan. On the very day of interviewing her I remember I was quite down for some reasons, and had hard time readjusting on one of these grey much too urban Shanghai days and I wasn’t expecting too much from it. How wrong was I.

My dearest assistant, Mandy, had called Dang Dang to confirm the interview at her restaurant located on Fa Hua Zhen Road. The restaurant’s entrance is barely visible from outside, and I had to ask the way twice before I discover “Le Jardin Secret”, after all it is supposed to be secret. This is exactly what it is… a place that you can only reveal the existence to people that you know will appreciate its uniqueness and style. Personally I felt totally transported when stepping inside. At first I couldn’t realize why I felt this way about the place and it took me some times, walking around, in admiration with every corners, to realize that I was being caught by what people calls the “Madeleine de Proust” effect, to define the involuntary memory – the conception of human memory in which cues encountered in everyday life evoke recollections of the past, without conscious effort. Last month I was in Shanghai, and at the same time I was in France in the early 80’s, in my grand parents’ dining room. I was touched. Antique pieces from the old continent everywhere: frames, portraits of cherubim, botanical sketches, a Remington typewriter, old fans and an antic looking forged iron gate that could have been concealed from Pere-Lachaise cemetery. The walls painted in a very Mediterranean ocher color providing a warm and comfortable feel.

I couldn’t wait anymore to meet the creative mind behind this place and urged the waitstaff to let Mrs Li know that I was arrived.

(to be continued)

我爱上海的生活,因为这个城市有着太多不同的面貌:它浪漫,它充满戏剧性,它又让人充满遐想。。。当然,这些都是上海积极的一面。如果我是一名作家,也许我会专攻于记录一个城市,记录生活在这个城市里的主厨,餐馆主,场馆主,服务员,食评人,葡萄酒生产商,著名的酒类品牌经理,美食博主,摄影师;当然,还有一个城市最庞大的不可或缺的群体:餐饮消费者。

上周,我的公司SKIN marketing,与一位成功的私人银行顾问签署了新合同。他叫Sam Li,富有聪明,但让我没想到的是,他又有些害羞。但他无疑是一位年轻的上海绅士。第一次与他见面时,我们就谈到了他的饭店“La Petite Fleur”。它坐落于中国上海的安福路,是我在上个月就在博客中推荐过的一家美丽的小餐馆。通常,专业的餐馆主们总会告诉你他们开过多少家,配合经营过多少家。。。但Sam却完全不同,他不会自卖自夸,而是真正关注于餐馆的经营。而当最后他提到自己还拥有4家餐馆时,我震惊了。。。对于一个非餐饮行业的从业人员,能经营一家餐馆,无论其规模有多大,就已经是一项非常艰难的工作。而他却经营着5家,着实让我钦佩。我们花了些时间讨论,于是决定一起合作。另外,我们还聊到了一些有趣的小物件!Sam的餐馆分别为:La Petite Fleur, Le Petit Chateau, Le Jardin Secret, Le Petit Jardin(第5家将于4月在武康路开幕),所有餐馆都是由Sam的妻子当当(小名)设计。

这五家餐馆为上海量身定制,夫妇俩根据定位非常仔细地挑选地址,多为老房子的底层。当当会给房间注入生机,她有着强烈的时尚感,对18和19世纪的欧式建筑有着充分的了解。另外,她还很喜欢日本卡通片。

. 当当三十多岁,是一个周游世界的上海人,在加拿大居住过,也在日本工作过。我记得第一次和她交谈时,自己有多么难受。那时我实在不习惯上海的城市生活,并未期待能深入这个城市。如今看来当时的想法是多么荒谬啊!

我最贴心的助理Mandy已经和当当相约,拜访她坐落于法华镇路上的餐馆。餐馆的入口非常不起眼,在我找到Le Jardin Secret前,我不得不询问两次路线,毕竟它很隐秘。这就是Le Jardin Secret,一个你只能向你确定一定会喜欢其独特和个性的朋友所推荐的地方。当我走进它时,我感到非常振奋。起先,我并未意识到为何自己会有这样的感受,但我四处走了走看了看,慢慢喜欢起这里的每一个角落,产生了所谓的Madeleine de Proust效应。这是一种迸出式记忆,日常中的有些琐事下意识地使你想起许多已经淡忘的往事。虽然我身在上海,但就如同我身在80年代早期的法国,在我外公外婆的会客室里。我很感动。这里有来自世界各地的有趣古老元素:橱架,天使画像,植物素描,Remington打字机,古老的电扇和一扇会让人联想到拉雪兹神父公墓的古老铁门。墙壁刷成了十分地中海味道的土黄色,给人温馨舒适的感觉。

我已经迫不及待想要会见餐馆出色的设计师,并请服务员告诉李先生我已到达。

(to be continued 待续)

LE JARDIN SECRET
525 Fahuazhen Lu, near Dingxi Lu
法华镇路525号 近定息路
6082 1775

LA PETITE FLEUR
25 Anfu Lu, near Changshu Lu
安福路25号,近常数路
5403 3247

Below:

– Le Jardin Secret (photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
– La Petite Fleur (photos 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

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