Osteria Pelecanus’ new location on Huanggushan Road is perfect for impatient and spontaneous people like me who could never find the opportunity to enjoy one of the Zhongshan Road location’s four tables. The interior of their new place is spacious, even managing to fit a bar—cocktails by the wonderful drinksmiths of Joy Bar no less—in the middle of the establishment.
Our meal was selected by Zan, their wonderful chef. Our appetizers were Asparagus with a Garlic and Parsley Alioli (炙芦笋佐蒜蓉欧芹蛋黄酱, 38RMB) which I nibbled on throughout the evening, and Deep-Fried Triple-Cheese Rolls with Wasabi Mayo and Pork Floss (炸三重奶酪肉松响铃配柠檬山葵蛋黄酱, 45RMB). I’m ashamed to say I wouldn’t normally order the asparagus; a straightforward description doesn’t do it justice. It’s a simple starter that never lost its charm no matter how full I became, and this night was an opportunity to be a total glutton. Try it. The Cheese Rolls were a delicious testament to the chef’s fusion-genuity.
Shortly after we enjoyed the South East Asian Style Cold Shrimps (东南亚式柠檬香茅冷渍大头虾, 88RMB) which are served in a clear, light Tom Yam broth with a satisfying zing of chili, lemongrass, and fish sauce we continued to spoon-sip after the shrimp were gone.
Our main dishes came starting with the Rucola Curdo Pizza (芝麻菜火腿披萨, 98RMB): this pie was delicious, with soft crust and huge translucent sheets of shaved ham. It had been so long since having a pizza without excessive grease that I almost didn’t notice how perfectly the pieces folded into neat triangles without saggy, oily tips; these were light, firm, delicious!
Arriving in tandem was the Porcini Risotto (鸡汁牛肝菌烩饭, 68RMB) with perfectly velvety smooth sauce and grains with an addictive earthy taste, and the Beef Stew of South France Style (南法乡村式杂蔬炖牛肋肉(澳洲谷饲牛肉), 98RMB); both of these were the most “normal” of the dishes we enjoyed, which pushed both of these to Comfort Food status after a single bite of both; they were familiar tastes elevated to perfection. The Beef Stew strained my self-control, and I again took a spoon to the sauce after the meat was gone.
Some more treats arrived: Braised Octopus Tentacles in Butter Garlic Sauce (经典香蒜黄油酱慢焗章鱼腿, 72RMB) which was completely covered in minced garlic and tender as barbecue; and the Grilled Fresh Matsutake Mushrooms with Grated Prosciutto (炙烤半熟当季鲜松茸, 168RMB), which have a soft, spongy texture after they shrink from roasting. The Matsutakes come from Yunnan; it’s a seasonal dish and only lasts about a month and a half, so now's the time to enjoy!
Finally our desserts: Saffron Panna Cotta with Citrus Syrup and Fresh Orange (藏红花奶冻配柠檬糖浆与鲜橙肉, 38RMB), and the Sticky Rice Sponge with Caramelized Pineapple Sauce & Vanilla Marscapone (自烤糯米蛋糕配焦糖凤梨酱与香草马斯卡彭, 42RMB). I’m panna cotta lover and kept that one to myself; rather than the shaped mold that I expected, this was softer and served in a deep glass; its lightness was a welcome finish to the—oh they asked if I wanted to try anything else? Uh, YEAH.
When you go to a place like this, when you trust the chef, always, ALWAYS take the opportunity to order extra food; try new things that you wouldn’t normally order, let the professionals show off! “Sour Spicy Eggplant Mush, Slow Cooked Pork & Pickled Onion Pizza” (酸辣茄子泥与慢烤猪腩肉披萨, 68RMB) sounded weird as hell and was amazing. Apparently it’s particularly popular with Chinese customers.
Last notes: the sauces at Pelecanus are invariably on point. Throughout the evening we were still sipping and scraping at sauces after the food was gone. Every taste I enjoyed made me curious about what else Zan can do. Particularly given that his menu changes with seasons and availability, regular visits are always fresh and rewarding.
Osteria Pelecanus is open every day from 5pm to 11pm, smoking after 8:30pm. Expect a crowd around 6pm, so go a little later if you’re queue-averse. Parking is available on the roadside.