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Courtyard 4 Gongti Bei Lu

The simple white exterior and floor-to-ceiling glass façade of Tienstiens stands out against the drab, brown masonry that surrounds the modern bakery. Even from the outside, each and every pastry, macaroon and parfait is presented in gallery-like lighting; the shop’s alabaster motif and minimalist display cases smack of a high-end boutique. The last thing this highly stylised space feels like is a bakery-cum-café, but a bakery-cum-café it is – and a serious one at that.

The white-on-white motif stands up well and contributes to the excitement of perusing the well-stocked display cases that bank the entrance. Electric yellows, robin’s egg blue and neon greens punctuate the blank canvas. The confections practically scream out, begging to be bought, if only to bring a bit of colour into Courtyard 4’s grey surrounds.

The offerings at Tienstiens, however, offer more than just a bit of colour. Baguettes (20RMB) are baked fresh daily and deliver a dark brown crust and fragrant, open crumb, while the canneles (8RMB) are wonderfully chewy, with a caramelised bark of sugar and fat encasing a soft custardy crumb that coats the mouth like a spoonful of rich pudding you wish mum could have mustered.


The puff pastry offerings are no less worthy, with flaky pain au chocolate (18RMB) and croissants (16RMB) exhibiting the classic irony present in all quality pastry: light and airy in spite of a dark, buttery secret. The macaroons are less exciting, with muted flavours that yield to dramatic colour schemes and staggering tags (18RMB a piece). The signature financier is likewise underwhelming, hard, dry and expensive (24RMB for two). Caramel squares of grapefruit, vanilla and ginger fare much better and would make for an impressive gift (8RMB each or 192RMB for 24).

The daily assortment of confections run out early, so be sure to duck in before lunch if you’re after classics like chocolate fondant (58RMB), raspberry diplomatic (12RMB) or chaux sporting a variety of creams and colours (40RMB).

The Vietnamese (55RMB) and the Moroccan (58RMB) sandwich are both excellent, with strong flavours and fresh ingredients that defy the price, especially when measured against the diminutive sweets.

The menu – French and traditional Chinese characters only – is short and to the point, which leaves more time to sit back and enjoy authentic French baked goods in pleasing surroundings. This spring, you’ll mostly find us on the terrace sipping a latte (30RMB), nibbling a pain au chocolate and brushing up on our French.

Venue name: Tienstiens
Opening hours: 8.30am-11.30pm Mon-Thu, Sun; 8.30am-1.30am Fri-Sat
English address: Building 10, Courtyard 4, Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区工人体育场北路4号10号楼一层101号
  • 4 out of 5 stars

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