18 Xiaoyun Road, 霄云路18号, Beijing
Tel: 6595-5135 www.flo.cn
There is nothing exciting about Brasserie Flo. The food is predictable and reminds you a bit of your mother’s cooking. But that isn’t always a problem, is it? Sometimes you go to restaurants not to be excited or titillated, but to treat yourself to a familiar experience. Flo is a chain of upscale eateries originally from Europe, setting up shop in Beijing in 1999. It prides itself on serving classic French food in an oriental capital and does so with confidence. Also signature to the restaurant is its seafood counter, replete with air-flown oysters from France, fresh and plump as a baby’s bottom but never mind the carbon footprint.
All this familiarity is a major selling point, especially with its recent move to spanking new premises along Xiaoyun Road, the heart of the diplomatic district in Beijing. The vaulted interior, spacious booths and ceiling-to-floor glass panels give a real sensation of space and a European charm.
Foie Gras, Plum Jelly, Fig Toast (not pictured)
We went for the Classic set menu (RMB 298), a selection of the restaurant’s best-sellers. The escargots were decent, meaning they were drowned in a lip-smackingly tasty herb butter, but not a terribly value-for-money dish. A much better option was the foie-gras, which was perfectly matched with fig toast and plum jelly.
Beef Tournade, Plum Tomatoes, Potatoes and Greens
Suckling Pig, Truffle Mash, Plum Tomatoes
The conservative ethos of the kitchen was clearly evident in its main offerings. The beef tournade was a simple and elegant plate of food. The meat came perfectly done (medium), with the plum tomatoes adding a splash of colour and freshness to the dish. The suckling pig was brilliant. The Chinese really know their pork belly, and Flo’s was some of the best we’ve had. The truffle mash actually had discernible slices of the black treasure in it, and went well with the pool of pork jus that had been cleverly “ponded” in the middle.
Belgian Waffles, Chantilly Cream, Strawberries
To end it off, Gloria had a slice of the Belgian waffles with Chantilly cream and strawberries. The waffle had a slightly chewy bread-like texture, not really what we’re used to but pleasant as well. The crème brulee, like the escargots, was good but not terribly value-for-money.
Of course there are better restaurants around, but one will find comfort in Brasserie Flo’s attentive service and ambiance. For a more affordable alternative, go on a weekday for their set lunch and power lunch options. (128 and 148 RMB respectively)