Grab a chair, but they've only got 12

Grab a chair, but they've only got 12

Shanghai chef and entrepreneur David Laris’ newest -- and smallest -- venture, 12 Chairs, opens in Sinan Mansions

12 Chairs - David Laris - opens - Sinan ManionsDo your dinner parties look this good?One of the most exclusive dining experiences in town is now officially open: David Laris’ 12 Chairs at Sinan Mansions.

The concept is simple: a dozen seats occupied by guests dining on food personally created by David Laris (on most nights) -- and you can sit and watch the whole process from beginning to end.

For Laris, choosing a venue that could only hold a dozen people gave 12 Chairs a unique flexibility, offering the possibility of a personal group dining experience as well as a very social one.

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“The group setting,” says Laris, “where everyone knows each other is about celebration, sharing of great food and wine."

"It is an intimate setting where I hope guests are transported to a place that is their own." he continues. "I have received guest comments [during 12 Chairs' soft opening] saying things like ‘I feel like a king, in my very own castle,’ which is exactly what I want them to feel. The room is theirs and the host is the king or queen.”

For guests who don’t want to bring a posse, dining in a small group allows for a “communal fine dining experience,” according to Laris.

“Every experience can be different when eating with a small group so you meet other diners,” he says. “Some people may talk to others outside their group, some may not, people may end up knowing each other.”

More private than most private kitchens, 12 Chairs is like eating in your own dining room -- that is, if your dining room offers the culinary wonders of one of Shanghai’s favorite entrepreneur-chefs.

“I hope people leave feeling special, that their bodies and minds have been nourished with elegance, fine food and wine,” says Laris. “I hope that we have made them happy and that they feel they have experienced something unique.”

The menu will change every month, so the emphasis will be on clean, seasonal ingredients, something showcased in another of Laris’ restaurants, Downstairs.

The luxury of David Laris being your private chef does not come cheap though, with the menu starting at RMB 880 per person for 10 tasting courses. Wine pairings can be added at RMB 500 per person for the basic pairing, or RMB 900 for the “premium” pairing.

The opening March menu includes such dishes as “Scallop with liver mayonnaise, Shaoxing butterscotch sauce, aged sherry vinegar,” “White truffle honey bread and butter pudding,” “Foie gras-stuffed pigeon and truffles with pancetta” and “Slow-cooked New Zealand lamb rack with black garlic puree, braised prunes, and Jerusalem artichokes.”

All in all, rather more interesting than what you could cook up in your own kitchen.

12 Chairs, 3/F, Bldg. 26A, Sinan Mansions, 519 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Sinan Lu 复兴中路519号思南公关26A号楼3楼, 近思南路, +86 21 3330 3920

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

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