You couldn’t get much more of a contrast in cultures than at Le Grenadier – a French restaurant set in a traditional Chinese courtyard building that’s tucked back in a quiet hutong.

On arrival we were confronted with a gaudy luminous blackboard and an enormous poster of the dishes that both seem to want to tempt the kind of diner that hunts for lunchtime deals during university breaks. Next, it’s an urban-style blackboard wall listing the menu in chalk, and then a wall of graffiti. Once inside, we found ourselves in a sophisticated wooden room that’s decorated with a clutter of ornaments and a magazine rack, at the top of which the nice menus were clumsily shoved.

Despite this clashing of appearances, however, the food itself had a seamlessness to it. Quality and style of presentation was consistent throughout the meal, and there was an elegant restraint to each dish.

The pasta (RMB 48) was perfectly cooked and dressed with just the right amount of pesto to coat but not drench it, and had a dash of chilli to add depth. The salmon with salsa (RMB 132) was also well done, cooked to a lovely, moist medium that flaked apart at the slightest nudge of our forks. On the side, we had a scrumptious – if a little undersized – portion of mashed potato (RMB 16), the duck rillettes (RMB 39), and a ham platter (RMB 46). To cap it all off and finish on a sweet note, we had a chocolate mousse (RMB 32), which had a light, foamy texture and seemed almost like a chocolate soufflé.

Also try: Luce, Eatalia

To read the April 2014 issue of the Beijinger online, click here.

Photos: Mitchell Pei Masilun

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