Dining In Beijing is a game increasingly dominated by the big dogs. As many of our favourite local haunts either bite the dust or are relegated to life behind walls made of bricks of the stuff, some restaurant families are popping out new offspring faster than we can digest our own food babies. Bottega has just opened a new branch in Liangmaqiao, there’s a new Zhang Mama in Gongti and Migas has landed at the new China World Mall in the CBD.
This mall-to-end-all-malls is also the home of F Bistronome, the latest offering from the team behind the très chic and très reliable Maison Flo and its patisserie-perfect sister, Café Flo. Situated on the seventh floor, F Bistronome offers hardcore urban views of the surrounding CBD – in particular the CCTV tower, which looms so closely over the restaurant, reflecting off every available polished surface within (and there are many), that it feels a bit like you’re floating in some kind of futuristic surveillance spacecraft that just happens to be paying homage to the romantic glory days of Paris in the art-deco 1920s.
It’s a stylish combination, made even more so by the sleek service that seats us on the terrace and puts an ice-cold and incredibly smooth martini in our hands before we even think about ordering food. We get there though, plumping for quenelles of cod and béchamel and steak tartare to start. The quenelles are served with thin slices of chorizo, whose saltiness helps to cut through the creamy croquettes, the fishiness of which is unfortunately not apparent. The steak tartare hits closer to the mark, laced as it is with oils and mouth- puckering herbs.
With an almost unbelievable speed for dishes that are supposed to take some time to cook, our bavette de boeuf and salmon steak arrive mere breaths after our starters have been cleared. The Norwegian salmon is tender and flaky, although the walnut crust could have been crustier and more walnutty, and is served on a thoroughly decent smattering of summer vegetables in a tomato sauce. The steak is rather more momentous. Served on a rustic board with gravy, mustard sauce and braised vegetables, this is meat cooked by and for people who love meat. Red, juicy and chewy enough to make you feel as though you’re up against a beast over which victory shall truly – and deliciously – be earned, this is the kind of dish you eat when you’ve come to a Beijing bistronome and are looking to feel French AF (as France).
One drawback of F Bistronome’s location in Beijing’s hottest new mall address is that said mall is still being built, which becomes very obvious towards the end of our meal when the bangs and crashes of the nocturnal construction workers punctuate our otherwise leisurely finish. Also, it’s in a mall, which maybe is a fact of life when you’re eating in shiny new Beijing restaurants, but there’s no getting around the fact that such environs put an upper limit on an otherwise carefully constructed ambience that the interior of the restaurant works so hard to establish. But with thoughtful and well- executed dishes, the Flo family’s status as one of the best French names in Beijing has only been strengthened by the arrival of this newest member.
Three course dinner for two with drinks: 939RMB
By Amy Hawkins