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August 30, 2009

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Top floor diner steps up a level

IT is often a case that, while a view can be a major draw card for a restaurant, it can also be its Achilles heal. With a guaranteed clientele ticking through to soak up the ambience, the kitchen can rest easy on its laurels and start to produce food that is adequate but unmemorable.
Before its recent facelift, Bund balcony landmark New Heights was starting to look a little tired around the edges. It had an early noughties feel that was more dated fusion bistro than innovative, sleek eatery.
The facelift opened up the interior, lifting the ceiling and providing more natural light and clearer views from inside the restaurant of the spectacular sights north along the Bund and across the Huangpu River.
Along with the new look has come a revamp of the menu, with a focus on fresh light flavors, driven by fresh seasonal produce.
New Heights?French Executive Chef Xavier Mauerhofer has created a menu of global contemporary cuisine with a focus on Asian flavors that stays true to the restaurantís established genre for approachable casual food with a touch of style.
Mauerhofer has been steering New Heights for the past 18 months and his menu shows his strong background in North America and London for more than 10 years.
Having trained in London during the growth of the fusion food movement, Mauerhofer can artfully avoid the cliched fusion for fusionís sake and instead uses Asian influences to provide a twist that adds a creative intrigue to his dishes.
This light touch was on display in the entree we chose, a Tuna Tataki (110 yuan/US$16) served on daikon with guacamole, a light, fragrant ginger dressing and rice paper crisp. The dish had a well thought out mix of textures with the crisps, tender rare tuna and the fresh vibrant green guacamole giving it a burst of color.
Of the mains we chose one of the new dishes, a spice crusted salmon served in a tomato and lemon grass broth laden with vegetables (185 yuan) and a staple classic, a gnocchi rolled in a tomato sauce (155 yuan).
The salmon was a good summer dish with a light clear broth with Chinese cabbage, shitake mushrooms and lifted with a burst of color and flavor with sweet fresh baby peas. The spice crust was cooked light and crispy without drying out the salmon.
The gnocchi was light and fluffy. The sauce came with porcini and red peppers and had more of a soupy consistency. While it could have benefited from being reduced further to bring out the intensity of flavors, it seems that Asian diners like their pastas with this consistency of sauce.
Desserts include a collection of handmade ice cream and an excellent, light poached peach that was light and fresh and a good demonstration of what can be done with seasonal produce.
With a new general manager focused on tightening up service and Mauerhofer taking the menu up a notch, New Heights is a hospitality stalwart worth a second look.
Address: 7/F, Three on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Rd E1
Tel: 6321-0909


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