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A gaping hole had been left in Beijing’s French dining scene with the unexpected December departure of Daniel Boulud’s installment in the former American Embassy, according to international media. But we now wonder if 14-year-running Brasserie Flo is enough to fill it.
The French staple routinely amasses accolades from dining critics for its authenticity and dependability. It delivers a Parisian-style interior, impeccable service, and masterful cuisine, all with an air of effortlessness that’s still rare in Beijing’s unfledged dining scene. Just a few paces into Flo’s sparkling lobby alone is enough to please, mostly thanks to a glass case displaying dainty desserts and wines to tease you before dinner (and why not give in? The Flo Restaurant Group slogan maintains that life is a party, anyway.)
To keep pace, Chef Stephane Laurens has whipped up new dishes to better satisfy winter weather cravings. Start things off with the foie gras mi-cult facon flo (RMB 128), a sizable portion of liver atop a streak of fig brioche. The accompanying dollop of red wine-poached pear is like a canned, spiced apple ring in a tuxedo, bearing warming notes of cinnamon and clove. Alternatively on offer is the chilled, crunchy Alaskan King Crab salad (RMB 166), a starter subtly flavored with beetroot, avocado and pistachio. Laurens arouses the senses with fits of unexpected saltiness in what is otherwise a citrusy salade de roquette gourmande (RMB 108).
Flo is still serving its signature French onion soup (RMB 58). Though, we found it to be too sweet and preferred the more complex blend of marinated wild fungi and black truffle in the cream of mushroom (RMB 68). The real stew for the soul is the cassoulet, a trifecta of tender meats that nearly spoiled us. Round it all off with Flo’s degustation platter (RMB 96) – that is, if the foyer’s macaron counter didn’t get to you first.
Daily 11am-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm. 18 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang District (6595 5135)
900m northeast of Sanyuanqiao station (Line 10)
A version of this article appears in the February 2014 issue of the Beijinger
Photo: courtesy of Brasserie Flo