Page 25

WHAT’S NEW restaurants


hi is the apex of careful curation. The walls of its intimate space have been constructed of repurposed doors and windows frames, the produce and products meticulously sourced. Even its opening is well-timed: the sun pulled low by approaching winter, dappling the table with light. Eating requires that you sur render to the kitchen. Its decree is “fresh, local, organic,” an admirable, challenging and increasingly popular aspiration. They’ve met success. Coffee (RMB 30) from local roaster Uncle Bean comes in small individual French presses. Others like Tavalin Bagels, Andy’s Craft Sausages, and the brewery 京A make appearances, too. Offerings rotate depending on availability, and on one late morning the lunch offerings were two: a bagel with a smearing of avocado and paprika-dusted shrimp, and spaghetti with a delicate tomato sauce and mussels skirting the edges. On each dish (RMB 80), elegant spindly greens of one small fuchsia radish draped over an arugula salad. With these verdant young things in front of you, it was easy to ignore the pumpkin soup, a cousin closer to zhou (porridge) than what you might have hoped for. Lunch encouraged us to return several hours later for the evening meal. The single menu (RMB 220) offers no luxury of choice, but you’ll find that this is a luxury unneeded. Lunch might have been a three-hour affair of basking in the sunlight over a bagel, but dinner requires a different pace for its seven courses. Two ends of toasted farmer’s bread help transport the streak of red pepper dip from plate to mouth before quarters of fresh figs festooned in thin Serrano ham arrive. Lincolnshire sausages bed down in soft tomatoes and resilient white beans, which have survived boiling water and maintained their crispness. Scallops seem implausibly local in this landlocked city, but we aren’t ones to argue when they are seared and meltingly tender. The sweet corn puree beneath seems a more likely native – sweet and forthright like any of the hutong’s neighboring residents. An octopus dish raised questions for those accustomed to cephalopods that have been beaten on the Italian coast for eight hours until tender. Here, the tentacles are chewy, chopped with olives and oil. Finally, you might think you’ve tired of lamb – coated in cumin and served on the roadside – but let your love be revived by a different incarnation: two roasted lamb chops glistening against couscous and dainty spears of asparagus and carrot. Cat Nelson Also try: The Vineleaf, Saffron


December 2013

the Beijinger December 2013  
the Beijinger December 2013  

Party People. Learn to Host With the Most